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Mahes Visvalingam
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Customer Talk

This subweb seeks to provide case studies and observations for those undertaking research on Customer Services.  The author is not qualified to give any advice and shall not be held liable for any action or outcome arising from readers mistaking the observations and cases provided herein as advice.   Readers should consult official sources and seek the advice and assistance of specialist professionals.

Customer Services

Praise and Complain
Complex problems
Useful links - I hope they have not moved
Associated blog site

Customer Service, also known as Customer Care, refers to the support provided by a supplier to those who buy its products or services.  Customers enjoy legal protection.  Those customers, who are not buying in the course of a business, are classed as consumers and have additional rights, especially when they buy goods and services through the internet, mail order or telephone.


Given the number and variety of goods and services we purchase, occasional defects are likely to occur.  The Feb 2007 draft Wiki page on Customer Service (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_service) points out that Customers tend to be more forgiving of organizations who acknowledge and apologize for their mistakes rather than denying them. Taking responsibility for mistakes and correcting them is considered an important aspect of good customer service.  Most companies have a Customer Service section to resolve these problems in an amicable and fair way.  There are others who leave us feeling exasperated and only seem to respond (if at all) when third parties become involved.  They know that because of the anxiety, stress and cost involved in engaging third parties, never mind the courts, many customers will eventually shut up and put up with a poor buy/service.  It is not just the fly-by-night characters, who are unconcerned about customer loyalty.  Even some market leaders seem to take an arrogant take-it or leave-it attitude, talk down to their customers and/or set unnecessary hurdles to put off those seeking redress.   


What are the aims of this site?

Disgruntled consumers often react by taking their custom elsewhere.  However, this is not always possible nor is it desirable.  Sometimes, problems arise because of an intransigent employee rather than company policy and consumers often find that they need to go to extraordinary lengths and run up a huge phone bill to get redress.  We have had some success in resolving a number of stressful disagreements.  This website does not provide advice - it is merely intended to pass on our observations and experiences (which may not represent the experience of others) to a wider audience than just our families and friends and to provide case studies for those undertaking research on Customer Services. 

What will this site cover?  This site will seek to:

Record some consumer observations.
Highlight practices which appear to penalise customers.  One example is the long queues for Customer Services on non-geographic telephone numbers. 

Praise and Complain
publicly those companies who have given outstanding after-sales service, sometimes well beyond expectations.  They set a high standard for others.  I will start with these.
Regret cases where customer care has been deficient; for example, where the company refuses to accept that the product does not function as one would expect from the stated specifications and, particularly, when it does not reply to letters addressed to its Customer Services section.

Raise complex problems involving multiple providers, such as with loss of satellite signal with Freesat.  Post some of my riddles, such as, why my telephone will not ring when there are incoming calls when I fit a microfilter for broadband access.

Describe  approaches which have worked better than others in our case.  Please note from our various case studies that it is important to keep good notes and file all correspondence.  Having failed to resolve matters through the usual Customer Services telephone number, we had to write polite but firm letters to Managing Directors to get problems resolved.  All this is time consuming and not always easy.  Agencies which offer practical help are noted in the item below. 

Include pointers to some sources of information and practical help that we have come across; for example, regular columns in Newspapers which seek redress on behalf of customers after they have failed to get satisfactory responses from providers.  It is deplorable that government funding for Citizens Advice Bureaus, Consumer Direct, The Law Centre etc. are being cut back at a time when billions of tax payers funds are being gambled on Northern Rock for political purposes.
There are many forums (eg on Amazon) where people can informally 'voice' their praises and complaints.  You can also lodge a formal complaints through the government's Consumer Direct service and the RipOffTipOff site, which it refers to.  This web does not replicate their functions. 


Mahes Visvalingam 24 June 2007

Last updated on 02/12/11