It seems like some companies are using the title of “customer service” for their departments that deal with customers… but aren’t actually providing much in the way of service. Some of the treatment I’ve recently received falls more appropriately under terms like handling, redirecting or ignoring. While I tend to be extremely brand loyal, poor customer service is a really quick way to turn me off to a company.
Although the disappointing interactions have been with both large companies and individual small-business owners, I’ll relate just one example.
I have a nasty habit of falling in love with products that are destined to be discontinued. My preferred body wash, Dial Healthy Moisture Soy and Almond Milk Restoring Body Wash, went from being difficult to impossible to find, locally. After searching online I found that the few (third-party) sites that carried the body wash had prices starting at $13. (In a local store it would be around $3.)
I visited Dial’s website, hoping for a general “where to find our products” link. No such luck. However, since the product was (and is) still advertised on their site, I felt hopeful about soon getting my hands on some of it. Using the “contact us” link, I sent an email:
Arguably more than any of their customer service reps would ever need to know, but I wanted to make it clear that I was a believer in the product and truly interested in continuing to use their brand. Having done this before, (like I said, Products I Love = Discontinued) I had an idea of what sort of response to expect.
Generally, the brand will thank me for enjoying the product. If the item has not been discontinued, they may offer big-name stores that carry their line and suggest I check with those spots locally. If the item has, in fact, been discontinued, they will break the news to me and then suggest one of their other products, perhaps even detailing why it is similar. Although it’s standard stuff, I appreciate the time and assistance it takes for someone to provide that information.
Dial? Not so standard.
So… I guess this means it’s not discontinued? And, yes, at first I was put off by what a short response it was, but at least they pointed me in the right direction!
Walmart.com has a listing for the body wash, but it’s marked as “not available at this time.” Soap.com doesn’t have the body wash listed on their site at all.
Why I thought going back to Dial’s customer service would be a good idea, I don’t know. But I did. I sent another email.
Perhaps being more specific in my request would give the responder more to go on.
Clearly I was able to use my computer, and Google, to make it to the Dial website and contact them. In my emails I indicated having already searched online for the product. Why the responder thinks that blindly suggesting online third-party sites would be helpful, I truly don’t know. Do they not have records of the places to which they are currently (minimally) distributing this product?
Also, in each of my emails I specifically asked whether it was possible to purchase directly through Dial. If that’s not a possibility, that’s fine, but it would be good to have the question actually answered.
And although I’ve been thanked (admittedly twice, but in the exact same language – so I’m suspicious it’s auto-populated into the response email form) for contacting them for information, my loyalty to their product/brand was never acknowledged.
As for the information I requested, I’m not convinced what I received was information of any true value.
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by stellar interactions with the customer service at other companies, in the past. Like Bath & Body Works.
When my (first) favorite scent was discontinued, I wrote a letter to Bath & Body Works. It was a little more animated and dramatic (in a humorous manner) than my emails above, but it was – essentially – the same underlying idea. I love this product, I can’t find this product, is there any way you can help? Bath & Body Works responded to me with a full-page letter. It referenced points in my own letter. It was signed by a real human being. They thanked me for my patronage and expressed their hope that I would find another scent at their store. They provided me with discount coupons. They also told me that they would let me know if “my” scent ever returned.
I was over the moon. Not because of the coupons, but because of the personal response. It blew my mind that a company so large took the time to respond to me. Just one person.
Fast forward four years. Out of the blue, I received correspondence from Bath & Body Works, letting me know that “my” scent would be available, online only, in just a few months.
My original correspondence was sent my freshman year of college. I used the dorm address. The new correspondence somehow made it to my new address. Not my freshman dorm. Not my “permanent” (parents home) address. My current (at that time) address.
THAT is customer service.
Then again, perhaps the fact that the correspondence I’ve received from Dial is coming from “Consumer Affairs,” and not “customer service,” was an indicator of the level of assistance I could expect.