Customer Service Personified

Have you ever simply wanted to get some good in-person customer service when making a product decision? Yesterday my son and I were in search of just that at our cellphone provider. Our contracts were up for renewal and with Fall routines beginning in mere days, we decided to go update our plans. Nobody wanted to deal with us in person as we were told to call for the promotions. Both of our phones were broken and we wanted to transfer my son's plan over to his name. We urgently needed to replace his phone. "You have to do it by telephone," came the refrain from two separate service outlets of this well-known provider. We had two frustrating visits to downtown outlets. At the main Montreal service outlet, after taking a number and waiting for an hour, the female sales rep told me that all the phones were the same, to just choose one as she waved her hand magically over the display of shiny rectangles. She was looking ahead to the next customer in a long line. But I wanted to be sold a phone! If I could just choose one, I would be online and doing the transaction over the telephone. Sometimes we need the tactile experience of the product before buying it, and the in-person sale is the chance to educate the customer.

So we decided to stop by another service outlet where we'd experienced good old-fashioned customer service in the past. What others had all lacked in creativity, we made up for in our own quick thinking with the Sales Representative, Mathieu: call the provider while standing at the phone distribution kiosk. All it took was the cliche of thinking outside the box. While my son sorted out his plan over the phone, our wonderful sales rep showed me his own cellphone, one of the shiny rectangles on display that I hadn't considered. I was sold. He also found one for my son. And he even stayed 10 minutes late to finish up the sale. Using my accumulated plan dollars, we walked away satisfied and with new cell phones.

Now, why I am complaining? I facilitate a college course called The Customer Approach, that's why! And these people need to learn how to help customers! Why can we not get personalized and enthusiastic service any more? Why is it that I have to club the sales rep into awareness? Why did I have to work so hard as a client to get my needs heard and met? And that is what burned me yesterday. Here were two loyal customers, in need of phones and willing to sign 2-year agreements, and the best these first sales reps could do was tell us to call, that they did not want or have the creativity to deal with us in person.

Today as we have our plans and phones in place, Mathieu is our hero. And his boss who was standing right there knows it! Thank you, Mathieu at Fido in Ville LaSalle!


  1. I think I can help here because I work customer service too (In all truth I work IT, but we have to do a lot of polite customer relationships curves to our language all the time), I'm pretty sure I know what went on.

    You met one of those two types:

    1) The estranged

    That rep just got nailed by one or many clients before you. His motivation is at ZERO. In times of great affluences of people this happens a lot.

    2) The new rep

    He doesn't know anything about his product yet, but he's been thrown to the front lines because of the great affluence of people. Getting him is pure bad luck.

    Of course there's a chance that you've just hit an asshole. There are some in every company. But most of the time, that person is just overwhelmed and the asshole hides in an office at the back

  2. LOL Ben! Thank you for sharing your wonderful insights on customer service types. I think we hit a harried sales rep who was more concerned with moving the line along! But still...a little training goes a long way. I used to teach call centre students too. It's common enough to throw them to the lions with little training. I expected more yesterday. In the end, we had a really good sales rep. who saved the day.

  3. See, it's another pointer right there that the person was undertrained. She didn't know where to put her priorities and was probably pressured by her boss.

    In the end, she lost a sale and a more seasoned salesman made the most of it. I can understand your frustration though, but you can work the system in your favor when you know the insides.

    I had a beef with a DHL agent once (terrible delivery service btw). I could tell her didn't know much and he was looking to end the call to keep his stats. I went to the website and logged a complaint. They go directly to team leads. Then I could have those damn books I ordered.

    The higher you get in customer service hierarchy, the more you have a responsibility to please your client: "I'd like to speak to your supervisor" is a winning sentence.

  4. So true, Ben! I like that we always have the option of going higher.


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