[personal|culture] Me and customer service just lately

Like most white men of a certain height, class and educational standing, I wander through life in a cloud of largely invisible-to-me privilege. This privilege often expresses itself as good customer service. Sometimes it’s earned (for some value of “earned”) such as my frequent flyer status, sometimes it’s situational. I do make a serious effort to notice this sort of thing, so that, for example, if I walk up to a busy deli counter and am called next, I defer to the people who were waiting before me.

Lately the customer service levels which affect my life have been noticeably compromised in various ways. Yesterday I was talking to Lisa Costello about this. As I said to her, am I more needy due to my recent disabilities? Am I more demanding due to being shorter-tempered and fussier? Or am I really just bumping into increasingly weird problems at a higher rate than usual?

Her response was to comment that I’d become a strange attractor for customer service problems. Which doesn’t really answer my question, but was kind of funny. It was helpful to me in confirming that I’m not just experiencing observer bias or enjoying a version of the recency illusion.

I actually think it’s a combination of all three of my theories. My recent travel difficulties with wheelchair service wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if I didn’t need wheelchair service, for example — my recent issues with American Airlines. I am crankier than I used to be, what with the whole dying of cancer thing going on — yesterday’s noisy restaurant problem. And some of the problems I’ve encountered have been categorically weird, outside the usual run of issues — the whole CarMax power-of-attorney thing.

Being white, male and well-spoken didn’t really help me with any of these issues, though it certainly helped me resolve them post facto. Being disabled, well…

One more set of things to burn spoons on and have to deal with.

2 thoughts on “[personal|culture] Me and customer service just lately

  1. I think the CarMax problem is somewhat typical for anyone handling another’s estate through Power of Attorney. I have several similar stories while dealing with my parent’s estate. One bank would not acknowledge my parents’ durable power of attorney; they insisted I bring my mother (who I had to coach to say anything useful) to the bank before they would allow me to conduct any financial transactions. So, your choice of activities (as if Lisa had a “choice” to help settle her father’s affairs!) has something to do with the customer service issues you encounter.

  2. shaeconnor says:

    About whether your social media imprint makes a difference in customer service responses (from the CarMax post): I’ve gone to Twitter a couple of times with CS problems, with a much smaller imprint, and I’ve still gotten great responses. (Delta fixed a problem with a seat assignment via Twitter in about an hour a couple of weeks ago.) I think your larger imprint does help with the signal boost aspect, especially with ongoing/intractable problems. But for more self-contained problems, at least, social media makes it easier for customers to complain quickly (and briefly), and easier for companies to respond. It also gives the companies more of an incentive to do so, social media being mostly out in public and so easy to share with others.

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