When customer service fails

It is sad. It has happened again. What is it? The failure of customer service. I see it happen all the time in all sorts of organizations. Companies start out as small organizations. They will do anything for customers and build a loyal following. Then the organization grows and starts to put policies and procedures in place. This is absolutely necessary. Without these measures the organization will collapse inwards and no one will be served.

Down the line the organization grows and what was a team of ten becomes fifteen and even twenty. The original people who felt they company was a part of their flesh and blood leave. Replacements are hired. Employees start going to the job instead of going to their careers. And you end up with a situation like I once again encountered yesterday.

Returning from a meeting I went to check email. It was down. I tried contacting the server and it was unreachable. I call support and the person I talk to has heard somebody else mention that they shut down the account. Indeed my connection has been dropped by my ISP. It turns out that a large institution, who is a tenant of one of my clients, has machines infected with SASSER. They'd been notified and cleaned them on October 20 and the ISP acknowledged the response. Then nothing until yesterday. It seems the disinfection wasn't effective.

Without notice or any sort of consultation the ISP that I've been with since the mid-90s shut down the connection. Once they did they didn't even bother to email me and let me know or do anything. Just shut it down. Throughout the move I've given them contact information several times, they've called my new number on other issues. So what happens when I point out that it's unacceptable to have a service provider that cuts you off without any sort of notice.

The appropriate thing to do at this point is to look at the situation and see what is necessary to contact the client. Especially when you see a long-time (in the ISP game) client who has been loyal and has provided between $30-$300 a month of income over time, you try to contact them. Instead what happened (and so often does) is that a person in the organization sits back with the satisfied "we fixed it" pose and sips their coffee. It becomes an office gossip for a few minutes, man we had this really bad box and we killed it.

Then the customer calls and points out that this wasn't the best way to handle the situation. Out comes the policy and procedure book that says "we call and don't send email in this situation". Nevermind that the reality is they already had sent email. Nevermind that they didn't even try to call until after the customer reported the problem. Nevermind that they had lost the customer contact information. Nope. None of that matters. Instead of saying 'Gee we're sorry,' or 'We'll make it right,' the answer is "you provided invalid contact information." What? I've only provided it a half dozen times. You've successfully contacted me via email dozens of times. You didn't do what you say you will. You caused problems for several customers (one direct and several indirect) and the best answer you can come up with is "you provided invalid contact information."

If you're a shareholder it's time to get out. Companies cannot long survive with customer disservice.