Has COVID-19 become an excuse for everything? 

It seems that almost every company or governmental entity I have called for assistance the last few months always starts with the disclaimer, “due to the COVID-19 pandemic…”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic…:

…you may experience a longer wait time.

…we will not be able to take your call.

…we are limiting inquiries via email only.

…we are unable to guarantee you will receive a response at all.

…we won’t be able to do this.

…and we won’t be able to do that.

Please tell me why customer service should be affected…, when these people are on the phone and can work safely from their homes?

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin

David Lazarus, Business Columnist for The Los Angeles Times reports, “Among the various things the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, and not for the better, is customer service. Just ask anyone who has tried to contact California’s Employment Development Department with questions about unemployment benefits.”

That goes for the Unemployment Benefits Departments in any state, as well.

“A study last year in the Harvard Business Review found that the average American consumer spends 13 hours a year stuck on hold trying to resolve problems.”

And that seems like a conservative estimate to me.

“A third of disgruntled customers have to make two or more calls to resolve their issue, the study said. Many just give up.”

“More than three-quarters of consumers come away ‘less than satisfied’ with a company’s customer service.”

“And to no one’s surprise, the study found that in many cases, companies design their customer service departments to prevent irate customers from solving their problems.”

Now wait a minute there, Mr. Lazarus, I am surprised by this.

Why would a company design their customer service to prevent customers from solving their problems?

‘“This structure, we argue, keeps a lid on the amount of redress customers are willing to seek,’ the researchers determined. ‘In other words, by forcing customers to jump through hoops, the organization helps curb its redress payouts.’”

Ohhh, I can see that…, but not all customers seeking help are looking to get money back.

What about these customers?

“The Harvard Business Review study found that the larger a company’s market share, the less it cares what customers think of it, in any case. It cited in particular ‘airlines, internet, cable and telephone service providers.’”

‘“This may help us understand why some of the most hated companies in America are so profitable and why customer service, unfortunately, remains so frustrating,’ the study concluded.”

And the COVID-19 pandemic was just sitting there as an excuse too good to pass up.

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