Is Good Customer Service a Thing Of the Past?


One of my friends has been having problems with her clothes dryer. It doesn’t work. She has had the company she bought the dryer from out five (5) different times in the past two weeks with no resolution of the issue.  The dryer still does not work.

Her expereince has got me to thinking.

Customer service seem to be a concept from the past, and good customer service does not seem to exist at all these days.

All businesses want your business. Read: they want your money. But they don’t seem to want YOU. You are a problem. You are a nuisance. You want service if and when some thing goes wrong.

Automated telephone systems Are NOT Customer Service
They are customer avoidance systems.

One of the chief ways we as customers are told that we are not welcome is the automated telephone system. I mean God forbid any company hire real people to deal with real customers.

Instead we get a recorded message to push this number or that number while some computer tries to guess what your problem is and offer a generic recorded message on how YOU must solve your own problem with the shoddy item they sold you in the first place.

I mean how cold and unwelcoming is that? That is not customer service.

The first line of good customer service is making a good product or service in the first place. Too many companies today make shoddy cheap products and then provide poor service when it beaks down.  It is all about GREED. They want your money. That is all.

How To Get Around Automated Systems

This is an aside, but if you get as upset with automated phone ‘customer service’ as I do here are a few tricks of the trade to get around them.

One:  Don’t answer ANY of the automated recorded questions. Remain silent. Totally and completely silent. After three or four tries to get you to say some thing the recording will say some thing like, “I am having difficulty understanding you. Wait on the line and some one will be with you shortly.”

Or you can wait for the first prompt to answer their question and again, do not answer but instead press “0” on your telephone key pad. That will often get you to a live person. 

Another thing you can do if you are not getting satisfaction from the first person you talk with is to ask to speak to their supervisor or the next higher up person in the office. Keep doing that until they tell you there is no one higher.

I had a problem once with a company notorious for giving poor service and finally after talking to four different people got a real decision maker using this process. He wanted to send some one out to check the problem in two weeks. I kept telling him that was not acceptable. This problem has been going on for five months, it must be taken care of now. I must have said that ten times; firmly but never in anger. Finally he said, you are in luck, we just had a cancellation come in for tomorrow, we can have some one there at 8:30 a.m.” Perfect I said. And the person who came out was far more knowledgeable than any previous person sent out and he found issue in 10 minutes, fixed it, and no problem since. That was four months ago.  Some times you just have to stand your ground.

Recent Survey

This survey and research is from a year ago, but this is what an American Express survey discovered:

*Americans Will Spend 9% More With Companies That Provide Excellent Service

*But Two-Thirds Feel Companies Aren’t Doing Enough to Earn Their Business

*Service Is Even More Important in Tough Economic Times

The gist of the article is that when customers receive good service Americans are willing to spend more for the product or service. So it is really in every company’s best interests to give outstanding service.

You can read the entire article by clicking the following link: American Express.

Another interesting article on this subject is The Customer Service Hall of Shame. This is a list of the top ten companies rated as having the worst customer service in the nation. Of interest, the company I mentioned above that I had problems with is one of the top ten on this list. The list is about two-thirds down the page on the right in a box graphic.

A Fortune Can Be Made

In this economy any company that begins to provide outstanding customer service will stand to make a fortune not only now, but for years after the recession ends.

People do not forget.

What Do You Think? Get It Off Your Chest!

Tell us your worst customer service nightmare – or- tell us your best customer service story.

Featured Recipe       Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce

This is such a delicious recipe. I love the sweetness of the bacon with the sweet-sour of the cider vinegar and onions.  It is a great fall recipe when the weather begins to cool down. It is a relatively easy recipe as well.

This is a great recipe for when company is coming too. It looks so elegant. And for something so elegant it comes in under $2.00 per serving.

The recipe is for 4, but I only used 3 chicken breasts today. That simply means more cider and bacon sauce for each piece of chicken.

I also use apple cider vinegar instead of the apple cider as the cider make the dish sweeter than I like.

I also use four (4) slices of bacon and instead of two, and I used half a medium onion which is a bit more than called for in the actual recipe.

I also use less salt than the recipe calls for as the bacon is salty enough for me.

I use regular chicken broth as well which means my version probably has a few more calories. [see below]

I found this little gem of a recipe in a Fall 2008 special edition magazine titled: The Best of Cooking Light ~ Kitchen Secrets for Quick and Easy Meals.

It is also, despite the bacon, relative low in calories; only 269 with 24% from fat. Of course that is as written, not with the extra bacon I used.

However you decide to make it, with cider or vinegar, for 3 or for 4 people I think this recipe will be one of your very favorites.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

4 – 6 ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 bacon slices

¼ cup minced onions

¾ cup apple-cider

½ cup fat free chicken broth

Here is what you do:

Place the chicken breast between 2 sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap………..

Cover the chicken…………………

……………….and using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or heavy small skillet pound the chicken breasts to ½ inch thickness.

Dice the onions.

Dice the bacon…………………………..

……….and place in a large nonstick skillet over medium heart until crisp.

Remove the bacon from pan and set aside.

Add chicken to the drippings in the pan and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until done.

While the chicken is cooking you may want to get the cider or cider vinegar and the chicken broth measured out and ready to pour into the skillet.

When cooked through remove the chicken and place on a baking sheet and place in a oven on “warm,” or “low” to keep warm.

Add onion to the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly.

Now add the apple cider (or apple cider vinegar) and the chicken broth to the pan. Bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Cook until broth mixture is reduced to about ½ cup, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked bacon.

Serve the cider-bacon sauce over the chicken. I served the chicken on a bed of white and wild rice and with a side of broccoli as shown in the Cooking Light magazine.

Bon appétit!!!


4 chicken breast halves                    $5.80  (3 = $4.35)

¼ teaspoon of salt                          $—–

¼ teaspoon black pepper                $—–

2 bacon slices                                 $0.32  (4 = $0.64)                                        

¼ cup minced onions                      $0.35                         

¾ cup apple-cider                          $0.66  (vinegar = $0.42)

½ cup fat free chicken broth           $0.30

Total cost for 4 servings following recipe = $7.43
Cost per serving = $1.86

NOTE: The total cost making the changes I made in this recipe is about the same.

Quote of the Day

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.

Donald Porter


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3 comments to Is Good Customer Service a Thing Of the Past?

  • Yep customer services is on life support.some darn automated systen just does not getit in my book.I want to talk to t real live humanbeing here in the GOOD OLD USA,and not to some asshat in India!

  • Melissa Creamer

    It depends on who you are dealing with. If you are dealing with a large company, you probably won’t have great customer service. I have found, however, that when you are dealing with a small business, you get great customer service. I recently bought a birthday gift from a small business in NY (I live in TX) for a friend of mine. In asking the small mom and pop to ship to a different address than my billing, I mentioned it was for my friends birthday. Not only were my items shipped with the prompt customer service I have come to expect from this business, but they also included a hand written birthday card to my friend. Now that’s service!

    • Roberta

      You are right. That was great customer service.

      I think you make a very valid point, Melissa. Many times smaller businesses are far more likely to give much better and more personal service. Thanks for reminding me of that. Great Comment. 🙂