Why is Poor Customer Service So Common?

I’m often amazed at how so many businesses and their customer-facing employees provide such poor customer service. As a web developer/consultant, almost everything I do is about customer service. Deadlines are to be met, work provided should meet/exceed expectations and stated requirements, and basically client needs should be taken care of. I really don’t know why/how businesses out there perpetually provide poor customer service and don’t do anything about it – I just know it’s really frustrating. Here are just some recent examples:

United States Post Office
If you’ve ever had to do ANYTHING at the post office, you know you’re going to be waiting on line. For a long time. Without exception. I think this is mainly because the post office doesn’t have competition. It’s a government sanctioned monopoly. I get so mad when the workers behind that thick bullet-proof glass are joking or talking to each other when there’s a long line waiting to be serviced. A lot of times they’re working so casually in almost a smug manner. Good thing there’s that glass protecting them.

HSBC
I do all my banking at HSBC and there’s really not that much wrong with their customer service. But recently I applied for HSBC Direct’s “Online Payment” account. It’s like a checking account except you manage it online, there’s no printed checks, and they pay interest on your balance. I had an error on their online application at the very end so I emailed them about it. I got a canned, copy-and-paste response with some instructions. I reply, explaining to them this is exactly what I’m doing but it’s still giving me an error message and not letting me through. The next response contained the SAME copy-and-paste directions. Like the rep did not even read what I wrote. I mean it’s ridiculous, they call themselves customer support when they can’t even just READ what I’m writing.

Auto Repair Shops
My father has a truck at a repair shop in Long Island called Hassett Truckstop. They’ve done a decent job but one gripe I have is that every time the service guy says he’ll call me back, he doesn’t call me back. I have to call him the next day to get an update. I mean, when you tell a customer you’re going to do something, like call them back, you should actually do it.

Property Management
I live in a co-op property and I recently called in to have my front door and storm door replaced because both are rather old. They said they’d send out the super to take a look and then schedule an appointment to replace it. But instead of the super, a regular maintenance guy comes. He takes a look and says he needs to report back to the super and we’ll go from there. A week goes by and I hear nothing. I call the office and explain the situation. She tells me she’ll check with the super (who already left for the day at 4:00pm) and get back to me. Well I’m still waiting for them to call back. I’m giving them a call today but again, when you tell a customer you’re going to do something, you should actually do it in a timely manner. I’m kind of pissed off that I’m paying a maintenance fee every month and they can’t even call me back.

Update on the door thing: Without prior notice, they just sent another maintenance guy over at 8am to look at the door again. At least this time, they called back in an hour and scheduled an appointment to replace the door.

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