Is Covid a customer service scapegoat?

One of the keys to maintaining good client relationships is an excellent line of communication. Let us face it, poor communication in any lifestyle presents barriers, frustration and lost transactional value, whether that be personally in relationships with family friends or business. 

The banks were the first to introduce their confusing behaviour back in the 10’s with their mass branch closures and reliance on the digital world.  

A long-term friend and ex-colleague of mine Dean Mason MD of Teqex, echoed my frustration with his similar comments on Linked-in this week, in that the deteriorating levels of customer service across all industry in the last 18 months, citing ‘Covid-19’ as a barrier to being able to provide an answer to a reasonable request; is quite alarming! 

You will have heard it on any one of your calls to your customer accounts or general home/business utility supplier. “Due to Covid-19, we are experiencing a ‘higher than normal’ number of calls and a member of our team will get to you as quickly as possible. Suitably patronised, you will ignore the next request directing you to the FAQ section of the company website and wait longer, normally without an option to speak about your account with a human being. 

I understood this in the first wave of the pandemic, and I will let them off in the second. But why is this still a thing? I believe the mass use of furlough has presented a customer service nightmare for large corporates which is storing itself up for a huge shift to the competition. 

Either companies put staff on the phones and get them back in the office, or they continue to distance manage Steve, ‘Head of customer relations’ who is eating a late breakfast from his kitchen; but not before his next ZOOM call which unfortunately for you and me, was also interrupted due to ‘internet issues’ (Steve takes the rest of the day off to visit the beach). 

Isn’t it time companies stop using Covid as the scapegoat to reduce costs and begin to demonstrate proper ethics by addressing their standards of service sooner rather than later and quite possibly before the next round of forecasts in the board room? 

The office really is not dead.