We bought a new dishwasher from Sears and it’s been a very, very, very, very bad customer experience. Part of that terrible Sears terrible customer experience and Sears poor customer satisfaction is my experience with the Sears Call Center.
Soon, I’ll post about my experience buying an appliance from Sears, waiting 3 weeks for arrival and installation, nothing arrived, nothing was installed, and waited an additional 10 days to get my $600.00 back. Oh, throw in 3 phone calls, 15 call transfers, and a total of 83 minutes on the phone. All for nothing. I’m still washing dishes by hand – and I do not have a small family. Anyway, stay posted for my post on my experience with Sears
So, as part of the “7 Wastes” series, here are the Seven Wastes of Contact Centers (Call Centers):
Movement of product that does not add value
- [see Motion].
More material information than the customer needs
- Abandonment Rate is a measure of how many customers are not willing to wait. The number of customers waiting can be considered inventory. The goal is zero inventory – or some manageable level based on workforce.
Bodily or mental motion that does not add value
- Who enjoys being transferred from one customer service agent to another, to another, to another, to another? This unnecessary motion just adds to wait time, burden on the customer, and potentially loss of business or poor satisfaction.
Idle time when people, material, information, or equipment is not ready
- Waiting for anything – people, paper, machines, the FAX machine, copier, information.
- Waiting for a customer service agent.
Effort that does not add value from the customer’s perspective
- In my Sears poor customer experience, I was asked for my phone number, name, and address – 6 TIMES.
Producing more than the customer needs or wants
- No, I’m not interested in your other services or products. Don’t peddle merchandise to me – just please solve my problem.
- I know customer service agents have a hard job – they are often the messengers getting blamed for the problems of the company. That’s not fair. But, one type of overproduction is when the agent tells the customer how hard of a day he’s had – the customer doesn’t need to know you’ve had a hard day. Just please try to resolve the customer’s problem.
- The reason why I’m calling in the first place – service wasn’t done right the first time. In my case, it wasnt’ done right the second time, third time either.
- As a customer, being treated nice and respectfully is expected; when not, that’s a defect.
It’s Your Turn
What other examples do you have? Do you agree or disagree? What other examples of the Seven Wastes do you see and experience in your experience with Call Centers? I don’t agree with the statement that “Call Centers are the epitome of Waste” – I disagree with that statement. I believe that Call Centers can actually add tremendous value to the customer experience. What do you think?
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To Pete Abilla,
First allow me to apologize for the delay in finding this post. I’m also very sorry to read about this issue about your experiences with both the delivery of your dishwasher and our call center(s). It’s hard to know exactly how we failed you, but we did. We are very interested in finding out more about this situation and making sure that everything gets resolved to your satisfaction. We can help alleviate your frustrations. We can also help with the purchase and delivery of a dishwasher in a manner that will be much easier than this last one. At your convenience, please contact my office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss this situation in more detail. In the email, please provide a contact phone number and we will call you directly. Also, in your email, please provide the screen name (Pete Abilla) you used to post on this site, for reference to your issue, and we do look forward to talking to you soon.
Senior Case Manager
At least 2 of these wastes can be fixed using good technology. Overprocessing can be easily fixed by implementing good CTI on the call centers.
Waiting is even better: With the right tool, you can let the customer know what it the expected wait time and offer him a call back at the time he wants to be reached. It reduces line usage and gives a better customer experiences.
You should come consult the management of VECC which is the 911 center for most of the Salt Lake City valley. They don’t understand how any of this works.
philippine call center says
Customer service should eliminate the seven wastes of a call center. Agents must be gone through several trainings and seminars on how to deal with clients and they should have enough knowledge about the product they are rendering to their customers. Agents must solve the problems of their customers as soon as possible.
“the customer doesn’t need to know you’ve had a hard day. Just please try to resolve the customer’s problem.”
I work in customer service (not Sears) & we get to hear all about how hard a day the customer has had. We hear about their health problems, relationship problems, and/or other personal issues that have no relevance to the service we are trying to provide. We get people trying to bend our ear with sob stories. One comment about a tough day to a customer every now & then is not acceptable? We have to care about every little detail of the customer’s life? I don’t mind helping someone out within the realm of my job, but why aren’t CS representatives allowed to be human as well? I find this to be a double-standard that has to change. If you want someone to provide you with polite, courteous service its a lot easier to do that when someone isn’t shrieking in your ear about how awful the rest of their life is. Its one thing if the company that you work for messed up. Then you (the CS rep) apologize and make it right, but if a customer has a bad day then they are allowed to take it out on you! It is endlessly frustrating to really do your best and try to help someone while being cursed at, insulted and essentially made to feel as though you are less than human because you are doing your job. I will gladly provide the best service possible. The customers need to understand that we are people and we WILL try to help you. A smile, a polite tone & patience is the best weapon a customer has to get what they want.
Also, sometimes you can’t always get what you want NOW NOW NOW. Sometimes, you just have to wait. I’m sorry. I have to wait as a customer when I call customer service lines. I do it and I don’t complain because I know what it is like to be that PERSON on the other end of the telephone. I think everyone on the planet should work at least ONE CS job in their life. Then you will understand that for every 15 minutes you’ve spent on the phone a CS rep has taken 3 calls or more. They’ve dealt with very irate people over short spans of time. Yes, it is our job. Yes we are highly trained individuals. Yes, we deserve to be treated with respect and some modicum of dignity. I truly value the customers I serve which is why it is so sad to try to help someone who just has their mind made up that you are going to be the recipient of their venom today. It is SO hard to help someone who is already dead set on being angry and unwilling to work with you.
With regards to the account-finding issue. Do you know how many phone numbers the average person has in the last 5 years? There are cell phones, landlines, work numbers, etc. Often people will purchase many different items with various phone numbers they own. Each phone number is tied to a product that they purchase. That is why there are multiple accounts available to choose from. When a CS rep tells you there are multiple accounts to choose from (based on last name etc. probably your address and most likely the phone number) they mean that at one time or another you have used a cell phone or some other form of contact to purchase an item.
If you want things to be consolidated then the best thing to do is use the SAME number on every purchase. If you change your number please call the companies that have your number and update them. Companies cannot be responsible for change of information from the customer. It is not reasonable to be upset when you’ve changed phone numbers, purchased items under different names (spouses, sisters, mothers names) and changed houses 3 times over the last two years. If we have a hard time finding you (the CS reps at any call center) it is because your information is spread out. The individual person working that phone call has no idea how you have purchased your items, under what number etc. Also, the reason the CS reps ask you for all that information is to PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION. Should someone call up and have one of your old numbers you wouldn’t want a CS rep to give them information about your account would you? You know, just because the person that called in is a “customer” too? We want to “save them the trouble” of repeating information so then your personal information (possible credit information, address, phone numbers and full name) are available to this person because the average person is put out by repeating information with each new representative? There would be an uproar if this was the case. THAT is why each person is verifying your information. It may be annoying for you, but it is also done to protect you and in your best interest. Much like traffic rules & legal laws that are in place. Yes, going the speed limit is annoying, but its better than crashing and dying, no?
On the issue with the technicians/service calls: I don’t know about Sears by I know in my call center when we send technicians for repair we have to work out the service with availability of the tech. Sometimes they don’t work certain days (they need their days off, sick days and family time just like any of you customers do. They are PEOPLE).
I just think that there are people that are way too quick to believe themselves to be the very center of the universe. I sincerely appreciate the customers I serve. From 8-6pm every single day (including Sundays) they are the center of my universe. I will do everything I can to help you provided that I can at least get a word in edgewise, avoid personal attacks, & verbal abuse. EVEN THEN I will still do my best to help someone. Sometimes there is nothing else to be done and the customer is just going to have to wait. No manager or supervisor can create service dates when there are none. When a date books up that is it. First calls get first service dates.
Also regarding time windows (our company does time window scheduling as well): the time windows are estimates! That is so that the tech has ample time to finish the last job before they get to service your situation. You wouldn’t want a technician to stop in the middle of your repair because they had to “be on time” to the next repair job, would you? Absolutely not! If a service person shows up late to your house it is because he has had a long job at the previous address and wanted to make sure that customer’s repair was done properly. You would want the same consideration, yes? So that is what I try to communicate to customers that complain bitterly about a service person being 20 minutes late. Yes, I understand your time is valuable and that you need a repair on your item (our company does sound systems and video equipment), but so does every other customer that calls us. We know that EVERYONE’S time is valuable.
Often a CS rep is one of the most patient, understanding, empathetic people you will ever meet. We HAVE to be cope in this type of job. Often we enjoy our jobs, but when we read stuff like this it really makes it hard for us to slap a smile on our faces to help customers that really don’t seem to care about anyone else but themselves. Our entire job is dedicated to putting customer’s first. They keep us in a job. We know this and we appreciate it, but at the same time I think that everyone forgets that there is a real human with emotions on the other end of that phone. Our job is to help you with courtesy & accuracy. Your responsibility as a customer is simply let us do our jobs without cursing at us, or belittling us.
If I make a passing comment to a customer about a long day I don’t think I am inconveniencing them at all. I think I am creating a rapport. Odds are the comment is made to acknowledge that its sounds like the customer (through tone, word choice and inflection) might also be experiencing a bad day. It may also be a less skilled or novice CS rep asking the customer (indirectly) for mercy. Essentially, “I’ve had a really long day, you are the 100 (literally) customer that has yelled at me, and it would be great if you could take it easy.”. You may not care about our bad day, but it does have relevance for you as a customer. The way it pertains to you is that your CS rep could use some politesse & maybe a thank you. Expressions of kindness and appreciation of what we do goes a lot further than telling me how ridiculous you think it all is. Odds are I agree with you in the long run and I would be upset if it were I were in your shoes too. I’ve been there. I understand, but the difference between myself & the avg customer is that I save my venting for after I get off the phone with the representative. It doesn’t help your case or situation to give the rep an ear full. If anything else it makes them want to get off the phone a lot faster. How would you feel if someone called you asking for help and then yelled at you? Yeah, you would want to hang up too.
So yeah, Sears CS may stink, but really take a moment to walk a moon in someone else’s moccasins before you lob us all together. I truly love my customers (even the truly atrocious verbally abusive ones) because I know without them I wouldn’t have a job. However, I hope that by reading my situation people will realize that approaching a CS rep over the phone with an upbeat attitude (even if you are upset. Even if we are upset we have to sound chipper & interested. If we can express dissatisfaction without getting ugly we know its possible for customers) and a polite word it really will help them help you.
PS- get information on when your warranty’s expire. You are all adults and no one should have to remind you. If items fall out of warranty its not the company’s fault for “not reminding you”. DPS doesn’t remind you to renew your license right and neither does Homeland Security for your Passport– is it their fault if you don’t have either & can’t drive/travel? No, adults need to remember they are responsible for themselves.