How NOT to fix customer service

Every day of every week, I get mail and e-mails from Americans who want help fighting corruption and stupidity in government and business.

Today, for example, I heard from Bill, who has been trying for weeks to get someone from a local hospital to help him with a bill that he says he doesn’t owe.

I heard from Cecelia, an 80-year-old woman who has called her satellite TV company many times without success to complain about poor wiring. When she finally cancelled, they sent a collection agency to harass her “with daily calls, morning, noon and night. I have medical conditions that have been aggravated by these calls.”

And I heard from Gwen, 88, whose cable TV company assured her the installation charge would be $9.99. Instead, she got a bill for $149.95.

Fortunately, I’ve been doing this long enough so that I know key executives at each of these companies. I’ve already sent copies of letters from Bill, Cecelia and Gwen. I expect all three will hear from these companies in the next few days.

But this silly procedure of mine – taking complaints and passing them on – doesn’t get to the root of the problem. It’s a temporary fix. I help one, but thousands suffer from the same problem.

Each of these companies has broken or struggling customer-service cultures. OK, that’s putting it kindly. They stink. They rot to hell. They ruin days and nights for their customers with their never-ending incompetence.

And that’s the reason I can’t get David Avrin’s story out of my mind. I always wondered what happens behind the secretive doors of America’s top corporations when top executives figure out that they need to bring somebody in from the outside to help their employees see the light.

David Avrin | The Visibility Coach

David Avrin | The Visibility Coach

Avrin, known as The Visibility Coach, is one of the smartest people I’ve met when it comes to image-building and branding. He understands the trinity of media, public relations and advertising as well as anyonee’s a classy guy, too – Don Draper without the adultery. His specialty is coaching chief executive officers.

And that’s how he ended up telling the story about how he was called into a major corporation to help settle internal customer-service issues. But then, as he explains, he walks into a huge trap of his own making. He’s sitting there, facing the CEO, and because of his own boneheaded move, he has nothing left to give.

Avrin’s brutal honestly in his story helps me see how Bill, Cecelia and Gwen can’t get satisfaction. Please read David Avrin’s moving story here – and find out how he became part of the problem he was supposed to fix.

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  1. May I offer my words of satisfaction, hat tip, and recommmendation for Dave Lieber, top dog at Watchdog Nation. When I casually referred my tale of woe Dell Solutions Stations (now all closed) to Dave, he promptly offered the courtesy of forwarding my correspondence to a contact of his in an effort to facilitate a mutually beneficial resolution.

    The response was stunning. I quickly received a call from Dell assuring me that a full refund was due and how to proceed. In fact, I received a full refund with no further difficulty. The gratifying aspect of Dave’s help was that even when folks have a bona fide and justified complaint, it is often difficult to know where to go for redress, or worse, suffer the indignities of bureaucracy and inertia of large organizations.

    Dave was able to open the door to complete resolution in a short email based just on my casual remarks and his desire to help. While it is impossible to know if his magic touch applies equally in all situations, it is important that folks know that Dave is as much about rectifying as he is publicizing consumer troubles.


  2. when running a business, the first thing you should do is always establish a good customer service*:.