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Why is Great Customer Service So Hard to Find?

I have never figured out why so few firms deliver great service. In 1979 I wrote the world’s first customer service program because customer service was awful. Feelings was released in January 1980. Customer service probably is worse today than when I started. All firms in the US believe they deliver great service. Almost everyone in the US believes customer service sucks. The CEO’s never experience what happens during the day and how ineffective most employees are at handling customer service.

These firms are unwilling to spend the money to train their staff to deliver awesome service. Instead, they spend millions on phony customer satisfaction surveys that few people respond to and nobody internally does anything with. If they spent this money training their staff on how to deliver great service, the money would be better spent.

Every day I get several requests to do a survey. I ignore them. I know that it is just a ritual to make someone internally be able to check a box.  I have the Proven Process for Driving a Service Culture ( that every organization should adopt. It is not complicated. You must invest in your employees, and you have to really love customers.

Companies have a lot of stupid rules and policies. All to protect the company. The hell with the customer.  I had a tenant whose gas was turned off Friday. About 9 PM Friday night, we found out her gas meter was turned off and locked by Center Point Energy. She had no hot water. Only cold showers. Center Point turned off the wrong tenants’ meter, and when we called the emergency line, they said we had to wait until Monday morning at 7 am to call them. This is a $29.7 billion dollar utility operating in Minnesota and 7 other states. They only operate Monday -Friday, 7 AM- 7 PM This is a monopoly. They do not care. They locked the wrong meter. A major screw-up. We spent 21 minutes on the phone with Edwin on their emergency line, and we accomplished nothing.  How can a gas utility only operate these days of the week and hours is beyond incompetence. In Minnesota, it can get really cold in the winter. What happens when your gas is off when it is -10 F or -25 C. The pipes would all freeze, and you would have $12,000 – $20,000 in damages. If it happened on a holiday, they would be closed for 3 days. NO empowerment. NO service recovery. Rule-driven employees who act and think like robots.

Netflix stock price is down from $699.69 to $174.45 as of July 10. They lost 200,000 subscribers from January – March.  When they publish April – June results, it could be worse. You would think they would want to hang on to customers. They erased 4 years’ worth of growth. My daughter, who lives in Malaysia, wanted Netflix for her family, so we signed up. In May, we kept getting emails saying the account was going to expire while I was out of the country. If you pay every month, why would you want to close accounts on customers? I guess if you don’t value customers and stock prices. I gave her my credit card and told her to renew. The problem is she no longer had access in Malaysia after renewing.

When I got back to Minnesota, I called Netflix. They could not solve the problem. They would NOT refund the $14.99 and had NO service recovery. The employee was fighting with me on the phone over $14.99. I was shocked at their stupidity. I tried to register again, but it NO longer allowed my daughter’s kids to watch Netflix in Malaysia. After canceling online, they sent me a refund. This is a $30.4 billion-dollar company. I can see why they lost 200,000 customers over 90 days.

The most important employee in every company is the front-line employee who has 99% of the customer contact. Consistently these employees are the least paid, least trained, and least valued everywhere in the world. If you want great customer service, you need to train all employees with something new and fresh every 4 months. At Center Point Energy and Netflix, it is obvious no one in the last few years has been trained. They are losing customers and their brand.