Thursday, March 03, 2011

Not great customer service

We all say that providing great customer service is important to us and our businesses, but how many of us really mean it? Sometimes words and actions just don't align, and I have what I consider a great example. Ready for a short rant? Read on! 

I use a Citibank credit card, so I can collect airline miles for occasional trips to go and see the family in London, and its been fine. How hard can it be? I buy things, pay the bill and Citi credits me with some miles. So this week (despite the date of February 18th) I received this letter, which in summary (and jest) said:
On January 1st, you tried to buy some flowers for you mother's birthday. We rejected your card a bunch of times. You assumed it was the fault of the vendor, as their site stopped accepting any card you owned. That's probably because we were providing merchant card services for them too. Though you can only guess at that. Anyway, almost two months later we are going to remind you of this bad experience and give you vague assurances that it won't happen again. Love and kisses, the CEO (who will claim he never even saw this letter if it comes down to it).
Now, thanks for reminding me of an unfortunate experience with your credit card, which I could have just assumed was somebody else's issue. Doing so, so long after the event is just crazy in my opinion. I'd forgotten about it long ago, and have been frankly more irritated by the incessant calling from your India based sales reps trying to sell me fraud detection services I don't want (to the point that I will dump the card if I see that Citi telemarketing call pop up on caller ID once more this month). Though you kindly reminded me that you can't be trusted to run a decent service, and that I'll receive more calls from Sales than for any useful customer services. And if you are going to send me a really personalized letter (wow - it addresses me by my full name), at least make it sound personal. That letter must have taken at least two minutes less than the time it took me to write this blog post (including the time to get it reviewed by Legal). Maybe you could learn something from my discussion of aligning employee development with business process improvement. You might get a meaningful letter out in a timely manner.

Sorry Citi, but you have no idea how bad the perception of your customers is over annoying telemarketing, and misjudged customer service like this (or maybe you don't care). I am not looking forward to the day when you screw up my bill or block my card due to "fraud detection" and I have to actually try and speak to somebody real to get it fixed. I think on that day all my eggs will be in one basket with Bank of America, who provide me really good service. If you would like me to help with an assessment of why this letter irritated me so badly, and whether other customers feel the same, just give me a call. I'm sure you have my phone number on file as your sales reps are going to wear it out.

A post from the Improving It blog
Let us help you improve your business today. Visit

No comments: