London's Cooperative Bank states each of us "suffer 246 incidences of bad customer service" during our lifetime. This includes lousy service and less than helpful customer service agents. Cooperative Bank's poll has named the five worst types of companies for customer service. Can we as consumers always fight back?
Topping the list of worst customer service experiences are those at restaurants and bars. Probably everyone reading this will have had at least one or more bad experience with staff, food, or both. Competition for restaurants is still steep, so bad reviews can be devastating. Listen to friends, family members, and read online or newspaper reviews before deciding where to dine. Discount coupons are available for a majority of restaurants during the week. Don't just make Saturday night the only evening to go out and eat.
With bars, however lousy customer service presents a more complicated problem. It might be hard to walk away from the most popular spots, and they tend to be very busy and congested. Drinks are commonly overpriced, service is practically non-existent because you can not find anyone in the crowd, and the establishment doesn't care. Why? The place is the current trend, and the establishment need not worry at this time whether you like to be treated like cattle or if the bartender gave you the house wine instead of another brand you ordered. About the only solution to poor customer service in a popular night spot is just to grow older when going to places like this are no longer your first priority.
Poor bank service came in a close second with unreasonable bank fees and long waiting lines. Smaller banks can be more service oriented and more competitive and flexible with bank fees. Banks appreciate customers who actually have money saved, so in this respect, anyone with a nest-egg is considered highly desirable. Compare rates, compare services, and don't hesitate to speak up to a supervisor. Bank managers are far more accessible nowadays than in the past.
Mobile phone networks and broadband services didn't fare well in the poll for customer service. If you are heading to the end of your contract, chances are good that a rival company will offer to buy your previous provider out and welcome you as a new customer. Where to switch will require some research on your part, and sometimes smaller companies shine because they are competing with the larger companies. As with broadband providers, smaller companies don't necessarily mean inferior service. These are the very companies who want to build their reputations; chances are it will be easier to get in touch with someone when something goes awry with your service.
The last provider that scored poorly in customer service is the energy company. Long waiting lines on the phone when something goes wrong, prerecorded messages when there is a local outage, curt service representatives, and the list goes on. If you are in an area where multiple service providers are in competition with each other, it is likely the customer service will be better. One of the local utility companies advised me to hold my complaints until after the emergency has been corrected. Then call and write the appropriate customer service department calmly expressing your dissatisfaction with your personal experience. Chances are much better that you will receive a response and even possibly an apology or solution.
Although most of us have probably not encountered our full 246 bad expected customer service experiences, we can hope that changes will continue to improve our world.