Monday, October 8, 2007

Lower Customer Service Standards

Have you felt like the customer services at your favorite corporate stores and such is lacking recently? Perhaps your favorite airline -- the one where you have all of your airmiles -- isn't going the distance for you continued service?

Marketplace's segment on Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, breaks down the new buzz word with companies looking to increase their bottom line. Instead of rewarding loyal customers with excellent service, they now work extra hard to troubleshoot customer service. That is, if they've treated you badly historically and suspect that one more incident might send your business elsewhere, then they ramp up the smiles and deals to keep you from writing them off for good.

The article's example:
"If I've already had two flights canceled in the past six months, the airline might predict that any further mistreatment might cause me to take my business elsewhere. In fact, having tons of frequent-flier points might even hurt your chances, because airlines don't have to worry as much about giving inferior service to loyal flyers who will tolerate just about anything to earn more miles."
The problem, as Ian Ayres points out, is that companies aren't using data to keep you happy, they're using it to keep you from leaving. It's just another sad truth about our society today. Everything and everyone is so disconnected that we really don't see each other as people, but numbers. It's nice to go into a little mom and pop shop and get advice, a smile, and a wooden toy. It might cost a little more money than the big box stores, but keeping places like these in business is what will keep that balance in our daily lives.