I've been a customer of Time Warner Cable for nearly 30 years. Not because of I love the company, but because they're really the only game in town for cable television and Internet service.
And as the data reveal, the cable industry is usually dead-last in customer satisfaction. According to the Consumerist, "Time Warner Cable Has Lowest Customer Satisfaction Score Of All U.S. Companies, Not Just Cable Providers." That's based on data from a Consumer Reports survey.
But during my 30 years' experience as a customer, there has been one consistently shining star in Time Warner's dark customer service sky, and that's the elder customer service representatives (CSR's). I've noticed a pattern among them - they're authentically kind people - not "scripted-kind" - and they don't defend those unfriendly policies that cable companies are very good at creating.
Take Bud, for example. During a recent customer service experience, I was making changes to my account. I tried to do it twice over the phone, and each time, dealt with a younger CSR that defended Time Warner's unfriendly policies - the kind of policies that make life inconvenient for the customer. Out of frustration, I decided to drive out to the Time Warner office, and wait in line so I could resolve the situation face-to-face with a flesh-and-blood human.
That's when I met Bud - a gentleman presumably in his early 70's - calm, confident, and not afraid of losing his job for empathizing with the customer. In those same situations where the CSR on the phone read me a company policy, Bud would say, "Unfortunately, we don't make this easy for you..." or even, "I apologize for the inconvenience." Those are phrases I never heard from the younger CSR's. And that's too bad, because just hearing those words from another human being made Time Warner Cable, even for one bright shining moment, seem like a customer-friendly company.
Hey Time Warner, you guys should teach all your CSR's' to be more like Bud.
Tell them that it's ok to apologize to a customer for inconveniencing them.
Tell them that's it's ok to admit that a policy isn't very customer-friendly.
Tell them that they won't get fired for showing a little more empathy to the customer.
And perhaps, have your young new-hires shadow your senior statesmen like Bud, to learn what empathy is, how it works, and why it's important in customer service.