Customer Service - thoughts? Is it getting better or worse?

By : Administrator
Published 13th May 2014 |
Read latest comment - 17th January 2017

Older folk often lament about the good old days when you had good old fashioned customer service.

Then the internet was born, along with the overseas outsourced call centres and customer service seemed to exit stage right

But more recently, there seems to have been a backlash, largely I suspect due to customer complaints, and the modern review driven culture.

Companies now proudly claim to use local call centres, staffed with regional accents, and shout the customer service message loudly from the roof tops.

I called BT (residential) recently and had the happiest Indian based chap in the world, who was falling over himself to make me happy, and finally even resolved my problem. Phoning back 30 minutes later just to make sure I was still happy...

Compared to years ago where you would sit patiently in the queue. I think the worst used to be NTL broadband (what happened to them?) and trying to talk to their patronising support department

With the power in consumers hands via reviews and social media, have things changed?

What are peoples perceptions? Is customer service in general getting better or worse? Or is customer service better with smaller companies who are quick to react, versus the large PLC's who are still playing catch up?

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn
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Customer service around these parts seems to work along the lines of what mood the consultant is in, how much experience they have with whatever they're working with, and their own personalities, and the clients they have to deal with on a daily basis.

I guess for someone new to that area, its hard to separate your own mood from professionalism (I say that loosely because its still quite possible to get ye old stalwarts in the industry all hot and bothered). You get good natured clients, and ones that would hellfire and brimstone look like an arctic vacation at the North Pole, and you're left with one rule; The customer/client is always right.

I think its a lot due to online media these days, even with businesses targeting local clients instead of an international client-base? Although, I have to laugh though, over here at some point the big thing was to use the net for a complaint system. Whether it was Twitter or Facebook or forums, if you had a way to get your rant across and still name the company in question, you had power in your hands.


Just been into the Apple store at Lakeside to purchase an ipad. Could not find any fault with them whatsoever, plenty of knowledgeable sales and technical reps on the shop floor willing to help and all smiling (not surprising considering their prices) was in an out within 15 minutes.

An hour before that I was in a plumbing merchants, I usually give this merchant around £150k a year in business, no customers or sales assistants on the shop floor, everyone outside smoking. I waited 5 minutes and left without buying anything.

From my own business point of view, I'd like to think that we offer an excellent customer service both before and after any sale. All customers are told that they can call or email at anytime and will be given free advice or even a service visit. The problem is though you always get one or two customers who abuse this and will try to get you running through hoops, which ends up costing more money than what the original job was valued. Sometimes I end up being rude to them, just to get them to stop being a nuisance.  

I think also there is a problem of many businesses getting a balance of employing enough people to operate. Those that employ too few end up employing stressed out headless chickens, who have no idea about customer service, its all about getting the next sale. 


I think it's getting better in many ways, because it's more important to people now, the whole company image and how it operates is more important now, and this is conveyed in the customer service.  

Especially online, it's very easy to offer good customer service to a lot of people quickly and develop good strong relationships with customers and potential customers.


I think finally people are standing up for their Rights more and businesses are taking note.

Even my Bank recently bent over backwards to help when i stupidly left my debit card at home, letting me move money around my accounts with just my ID. Thats how it should be, but by doing their job properly you are compelled to feel warm & fuzzy 

Find myself complaining far less lately, maybe thats because i dont go to Tescos .... 

Clive, My Local Services
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There have been some interesting points raised. Our company (Concept Vehicle Leasing) has been finalists for Best Customer Service in the London area for a few years running now. We are still awaiting a win in this category (fingers crossed for this Junes Award ceremony with Prospects Business award - The London Business Awards 2014). This shows that there are still companies out there giving it their all, which feels me with some comfort that there are actually some business still working to an extremely high standard in the Customer Service Department. I know our team work very hard and always give 100%. I would like to think the vast majority of business do the same, however I know that there are times when I personally have experienced poor customer service (and the same goes for extremely great customer service).  


I think it's getting worse in my opinion. If you ever have to call a big company call centre, and you have a major problem you often feel powerless. Recent example, I have 3 Vodafone contracts. One for my iPhone, one for my iPad Mini, and I also have a separate data tariff for my laptop. Oh, I also have 2 business phones with them on top. So I do spend money with them and I have been with them a while. Anyway, a contract which I signed up to accidently almost 2 years, that I am not using, but paying for anyway, to see it though. So it came to an end. So I sent a letter as they said they needed it in writing to cancel. So I sent a letter and cancelled my direct debit. 2 months later, I get a debt collectors letter from Vodafone. They had passed it to an external company. It's only a small amount, so although I know I am in the right, I pay it. Then I call Vodafone and explain what happened. They cancel my contract again. With small apology, paying lip service, no refund. A week later phone, just to make sure. Guess what, I learn that my contract still hasn't been cancelled. This time, I think they finally cancel it. Still no refund. So I paid an extra money, wasted a lot of time for something that was their fault.

This has affected my credit report. I try and keep a pristine credit score, although I don't really loan money. It's just something thats important to me. 

Now I have learnt, when I remember to record calls. However, the problem is, if I tell the agent that I am recording the call, they will nearly always end the call. It's OK for them to record the call but not me? I am supposed to legally tell someone before I record a call. However, if I tell them and no one will speak to me then I can really record the call can I?

Coming back to online reviews. Most of them are made up and manipulated. Reviews like mine won't touch a company like Vodafone. There is no independent review site or company. Most of review services are profit driven. Even the Google Places reviews are full of fake reviews. So I don't really trust it. Yes, businesses are more aware of getting bad online reviews or criticisms. But it mainly affects small businesses. However, small businesses are some of the best at giving great service anyway.

I wish someone would create a great site, where you could document and upload these customer service experiences. Most of the ones I have seen aren't that good. Maybe then they will stand up and listen. It needs to get powerful a bit like trip adviser. Then they will stand up and listen.

There is nothing worse then the feeling of powerlessness. 


Funnily enough I've just been sent some spam at the bottom of the emails are lots of impressive logo's which the spammer belongs too. One of them is ICS which up until now I never even heard of... Institute of Customer Services just goes to show you live and learn all the time and of course there's a fee to be a member....


Reviews like mine won't touch a company like Vodafone. There is no independent review site or company. Most of review services are profit driven”

Profit driven, can't argue with that, most review sites including us are a business not a charity. 

Don't know if you have come across the Rip Off Report? Never used it myself, but know of people who have, and also seen some interesting threads from companies trying to get their reviews removed, without success.

Barney started a thread about reviews recently which you might find of interest.

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn

I have heard of Rip Off Report. I am talking about something more high quality. It's not so much a business, rather than social action. However, I don't have the time or the energy.

Regarding reviews. I have this review idea that I like. If reviews were like this I would trust it. I will tell you about it another time. 

If you can instill public confidence that your reviews are most trust worthy and most vetted, then companies will consider using them. However, over the recent year I have seen a number of heavily backed review companies start up. So the competition is very fierce. The truth is most people don't trust most of them. If you could make one of them that had that very high confidence level, then you may have something. And I think I know a way to do that. However, I am not in that business. 


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