Showing posts with label Customer Service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Customer Service. Show all posts

Friday, September 10, 2010

New personal rule

I've had some pretty unfortunate customer service experiences this week, and I need to share. They weren't bad in so much that the service was horrible (well, it wasn't stellar, but average) but bad in the fact that it was SO INEFFICIENT.

First, I was at Correos Chile (the Post Office). I was coming back from a class and really looking forward to going home for an hour before heading out to my evening class. I had to mail something for my boss and I looked in to see that there was only one person waiting in line. Score! I thought and headed in. There were two people at the cash registers helping people. One woman was at a cash register that was closed, counting money. There was a man (maybe a manager?) running in and out of an office in the back. There was a security guard. So the man in front of me moved to the next available cash register. He had three envelopes to mail. I don't know why, but the guy processed each envelope individually, and each individual transaction took about five minutes. The other woman, who was supposedly open for service, was helping a man who was standing there (without mail) holding a 10.000 peso bill. The woman was on the phone and kept typing things into her computer. She looked very stressed. As I waited, more people entered. Soon, there were ten people waiting in line. Fifteen minutes had passed and the man in front of me being helped WAS STILL THERE. And to make matters worse, he tried to pay for the last transaction with a 20.000 peso bill and the cashier had no change, so he had to go look for some. I seriously wanted to pull my hair out. And what bothers me the most is that NO ONE COMPLAINS. The manager guy, who was running around doing God knows what, didn't assess the situation and say, hey! maybe the lady who is counting change should instead be ASSISTING CUSTOMERS. Nope. Nothing. Just silent waiting. When I finally got up to the counter my transaction took all of TWO SECONDS, so luckily I was out of there after only about twenty minutes (and remember: I was the second person in line!)

Next, I was at Unimarc today getting lunch from their salad bar. I took a number that was 6 away from the current number. Not so bad. Then, I realized there was only one person helping the salad bar people. There were three other women in the "Menu" line (which was empty) but they were just lounging around waiting for people to get into the "Menu" line, I guess. Then, to make matters worse, the woman with the number right in front of me hadn't decided what she wanted and proceeded to ask about the ingredients of every item in the salad bar.

I finally got my food and went to the checkout line. I don't know how, but I always pick the slowest line. I finally realized it was because an old lady was questioning EVERY single item that the cashier scanned. She called the manager over not once, not twice, but THREE times to ask about the price of lettuce, chorizos and margarine, respectively. Her problem was that she's not part of Club Unimarc and therefore wasn't receiving the discounted price and was complaining about that. Get with the program, lady. All the cool kids are in Club Unimarc. The only good thing about this experience was that the old man in front of me got PISSED and started yelling "Ya pues!" at the lady, so at least there was no resigned waiting in silence. I honestly wanted to hug that old man.

My last experience has to do with waiting and also just a down right rude person. I have to go to the photocopier at a certain facultad of the University of Chile to make photocopies quite frequently. There is one girl who works there who rivals Veronica Soto for the rudest chilena I've ever met. There are many examples, but I'll just stick with today's experience. I went to drop off quite a large order of photocopies at around 9:00 this morning. I was really happy when I walked in because rude girl wasn't there. I left them with a guy and told him I'd be back in a couple of hours to get them. I came back around 12:00 and the guy who I'd left them was wasn't there, but rude girl and another guy were. I asked for my photocopies. They looked at me like I had two heads.

"This morning I left some expense reports to be copied and now I'd like to pick them up." I explained.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" the rude girl said, "You didn't leave anything."

"Excuse me" I said, "But you weren't here when I dropped them off. I think I can remember my own actions. Besides, why would I lie about something like this?"

I mean, how ridiculous. Why would I LIE and say I dropped off something I hadn't? And to top it all off, when they actually looked for my photocopies (after I insisted they do so), they weren't ready. I had given them THREE HOURS. Sheesh.

So anyway, the point of all this is that I've made a new rule for myself. I will only submit myself to one potentially frustrating customer service experience per day. That means, that if at all possible, if I have to go to the photocopier, I won't also go to ServiPag or the post office or the Unimarc Salad bar or the Bank or Extranjeria later that same day. I think this will be good for my sanity, my mental health and my blood pressure.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Customer Service Contrast, Part II

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that customer service is always bad here in Chile and that it's always good in the U.S. I've had bad experiences in the U.S. and good experiences here in Chile. It just happens to be that yesterday it was Chile=horrible and U.S.=excellent.

So remember yesterday when Veronica Soto was a total biznatch to me?

Well, I got home after that whole ordeal and had an email from my loan agency. I was a bit confused about something, so I decided to call them right then to clear it up. I talked to a nice lady named Vicki at NelNet and she helped me clear up my question. I was so amazed by how helpful she was, and how nicely she explained everything. She even made a loan joke!

So, I decided to tell her.

"Thank you so much, Vicki. It's so nice to talk to someone friendly."

She seemed a bit taken aback. "Well, thanks! But I'm just doing my job, Abigail," she replied.

"Well, you've helped me a lot today and I just wanted to say thank you."

"Aren't you sweet," she said, "I really appreciate that. In fact, I'm going to send you an email survey about your customer service experience. Would you mind filling it out?"

So I of course filled it out and gave Vicki her well-deserved kudos.

Then, because of said loan issue, I had to transfer around some money in my US account. My bank, which is actually a credit union that only exists in Vermont (I think it has three branches), has an AMAZING website. They have this function, which I think is pure genius, where during business hours, you can chat with a customer service representative online. It's secure, because you have to be signed into your account to do so, and they ask for like 4000 passwords to access the account (which I appreciate).

So I chatted with Karen and she transferred some money for me and it was just peachy.

What a sigh of relief after having to deal with Veronica Soto. I still haven't heard back from her, by the way. I guess I'll have to call in a little bit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Customer Service Contrast, Part I

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that customer service is always bad here in Chile and that it's always good in the U.S. I've had bad experiences in the U.S. and good experiences here in Chile. It just happens to be that today it was Chile=horrible and U.S.=excellent.

Normally I like talking about the good first, but in order to understand the context of the good, I think it's necessary to understand how AWFUL the bad was.

Rewind to approximately one year ago. I decided to rent an apartment. I had an awful experience with the real estate agent. She acted very unprofessionally and I hate to admit, she made me cry. You can read this post here, but I think I must have written this awhile after it happened because it doesn't really reflect how frustrated and horrible this woman made me feel at the time.

So now fast forward to today, approximately two hours ago. I never received the contract to my apartment. I know, this is bad. I emailed this lady a bunch of times asking for it. One time, she responded and said she'd send it in the mail. I never got it. I should have followed up more, but life got in the way.

Now, the owner of my apartment wants to meet to review some things in the contract. She never received a copy of the contract either. So I called her today and offered to pick up her copy, because now I work two blocks from the real estate office, so I was going to go and talk to them directly to get the contract. I went around 2:30, because that's when I was finished working and when I had the free time to do so. The same woman who I had problems with, her name is Veronica Soto*, answered the door.

"We're on our lunch break now, but what do you need?" she said brusquely.

I explained about the contract. Then she said that I needed to have told her that I was coming before because the contracts are "in the warehouse" and she has to go look for them. So I said no problem, can I come get it tomorrow? She said no, that's impossible, because she has to take down my datos (information) and it takes a while to get it. So I asked if I could leave my datos now. She said no, because she was on her lunch break. She told me to email her. I told her I had emailed her many times (I think four, over the past year) and she had only responded once, so therefore I didn't trust email. She said she had never received an email from me and that she always responds to her emails. She shoved her business card in my face, and told me to email the address on the card. I looked at the address, and said "This is the email I've always used and I don't get a response." She again said she had never gotten an email from me. I again asked her if I could leave my datos right now, and even started to take out a pen to do so. She said no, and pointed to her business card and slowly said (as if I were stupid):

"You. Have. To. Write. Me. An. E-mail. I'm. On. My. LUNCH. BREAK. Right. Now."

I didn't want to give up, because I know I can be a push-over and I don't want people like her to take advantage of me. So I asked her how long it would take to get the contract. She said she didn't know, that it depended. I asked her what it depended on. She said that I really just needed to send her an email. I asked her for an estimate of time. She said a week. Then she took my arm and led me to the door, explaining again that she was on her lunch break. Then as soon as I was out the door, she closed it pretty roughly, almost slamming it.

It was very clear that she just wanted to get rid of me. She used her precious lunch break as an excuse, but I highly doubt she would have been any nicer or more accommodating if I had come at a non-lunch break time. Honestly, if you're on lunch break and don't want to be bothered, DON'T ANSWER THE DOOR.

So anyway, she made me pretty upset. My problem is that when I get angry, I cry, so it makes me look like a total weakling. Luckily I made it out the door before the tears began to fall. I think this is maybe because I hate confrontation, and it just completely overloads my emotional capacity.

When I got home, I wrote her an email and copied one of the emails that I hadn't gotten a response to. I considered forwarding her all four of the emails, but then I figured I didn't want to make her super mad so she wouldn't get me my contract.

What I do want to do is find her boss' email so that I can write to him and complain about her, but I can't find it. I think when I go to pick up the contract (this is assuming that she's not trying to swindle me and there actually is a contract to be had), I'll ask to either speak to her boss or for his email.

I also looked at to see if there were any complaints against ProCasa Jamie Moris (the name of the real estate agent) and lo and behold there was one against Veronica Soto in particular, and I am going to keep looking to see if there are more.

I'm emotionally exhausted after writing all this, but it helps me let it go. I'll write about the positive experiences I had (with my bank and loan agency) tomorrow.

*Usually I don't use names on my blog, but in this case, I think it's valid to call her out. She has absolutely ZERO customer service/interpersonal skills.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Back in the USA....err...almost

I’m writing this from the Toronto airport. There is a serious lack of outlets in this airport. Earlier I was sitting on the floor next to the payphones like a total sketchball.

My plane supposedly leaves at 11:35 for Boston. I’m hopeful, because unlike some other cities on the east coast (cough, DC, cough, cough), Boston knows how to handle a snow storm. The heaviest snow is supposed to stop by 12:00 and they’ll have an hour to clear the runways for us. Right??? I'm trying to have a positive outlook.

It’s weird to be around so many people speaking English. I legitimately went up to the lady at the news stand and asked for an “agua mineral” and she started talking to me in French. Oops. And as I’ve been walking around I keep thinking “WOW! So many gringos here.” Um, duh, Abby. You’re in Canada!

Oh, and I found out that according to US Customs, I’m a Chilean Resident. I told them that according to Chile, that wasn’t the case. The lady just glared at me and told me to change it on the form. I did, because I may or may not be carrying too many bottles of wine in my luggage and didn’t want her to mark my luggage to be checked because I pissed her off.

My first customer experience this morning had me thinking I was back in Chile, though. After a disgusting AirCanada breakfast (the dinner was good though), I was starving so I went to this little place to buy a muffin and coffee (the line for Starbucks was too long). The total came to $7.28 (ouch!) and I handed her exact change, in US currency. She started telling me how she’d have to give me change in Canadian dollars, asking me if I minded. I told her I had given her exact change so it shouldn’t matter. Then she explained to me about the exchange rate and how the US dollar was worth less than the Canadian dollar (thanks for the reminder, lady). I told her I understood. Then she said, “But you can pay with a credit card.” So I asked her, but what if I want to pay in cash? She said, yes, but I’ll have to give you change in Canadian dollars. “Okay,” I replied, “I gave you exact change. So, are you saying I need to give you more money?” She said, “Well, you can pay with a credit card.” OH MY GOD! So I calmly explained that I did not want to pay with a credit card and asked her how much I owed in US dollars. “Oh!” she piped up, “Let me just calculate that for you.” FINALLY. I owed 40 cents more. All that for 40 cents. Really?? One thing I have to say, though, is that although the whole exchange was very frustrating, she was relatively friendly.

Another observation, airport security has gotten waaaaaay more lax. Well, in Santiago it’s a joke, but it’s always been like that. When I went back through Security here in Toronto though, I had two containers of liquid outside my plastic baggie (one which is more than 3 oz) and they didn’t say anything. Maybe I was just lucky. I didn’t even realize myself until after.

OOOH! The pilot is getting on the plane! Good news folks. Here’s hoping I make it home relatively soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My love/hate relationship with Castaño (mostly love though, despite everything)

There is a chain bakery here in Santiago called Castaño which curiously enough doesn't sell castañas (I stand corrected: chestnuts) but does indeed sell pastries, bread, empanadas, etc. I should have a frequent buyer card (if such a thing existed) at Castaño because, well, I go there a lot. I love their muffins and their pan de molde (what we just call bread in the US) is the closest I've found to good whole-wheat bread here in Santiago.There are Castaños EVERYWHERE in Santiago, or at least in Providencia. It's like Starbucks in New York. Within a block of my apartment there are three or four. I love the smell of the bread baking and one of my favorite snacks is an empanada napolitana. They also make good little vegetarian sandwhiches with wholewheat bread, cheese, avocado and tomato. Yummy.

Although I go there a lot, the customer service is kind of hit or miss. Case in point. Today I went on my way back from class and bought muffins and a loaf of bread. The total came to $2.500 (around $5.00). I had a $10.000 peso bill, so I handed it to the lady. She said, "Don't you have anything smaller?" And I said no. Then she said, "Are you sure?" And so I opened my wallet to show her. Then (get this) she says, "Don't you have any coins?" So I shook out all my coins to reveal $385 pesos. Not helpful. So she sighed and gave me change.

Then, I looked in her change drawer. It was OVERFLOWING with money! Okay, so maybe she was low on $5.000 peso bills, but she had a ton of $2.000 peso bills and $1.000 peso bills, which added together, make a $5.000 peso bill! Chile does seem to have a lack of small change, especially at smaller businesses like the street carts. But Castaño is a large company that has a stocked change drawer, and probably a safe out back where they can go get more.

To top it all off, she asked the guy behind me, who was paying with a $5.000 bill (which she needed, by the way) if he had anything smaller (his total was less than $1.000). Does this make sense?

After bagging up my muffins in a little paper bag, I grabbed my loaf of bread and left the store. Previously, the lady had put a plastic bag on the counter for me to put my muffins and bread in. However, I live less than a block from this particular Castaño and the plastic bag was totally unnecessary.


Um, what??

She had a line of about 5 people waiting to check out and she's worried about me and my plastic bag?

So not only is the customer service bad at Castaño, it's also, well, strange.

That's not to say I'll stop going there. The muffins are too delicious.

Monday, August 31, 2009

All grown up in Chile

And today it hit me.

I am a grown up.


Okay, but seriously. By all definitions of the word, I'm an adult. I am over 18, I have a real job that pays me money, I have an apartment, I have to pay bills, buy groceries, figure out my own health insurance and remember to lock the door, shut off the lights and turn off the gas.

And not to toot my own horn, but I do this ALL IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY.

But to be honest, I don't think about the fact that I'm in a foreign country that much. The other day I was talking to my mom and she was wondering what to do with all the furniture she had saved for my first apartment, so I guess I've had to (and will keep having to) buy more stuff because of that.

Also I've of course worried about the infamous lack of customer service here in Chile, but (knock on wood) I've had excellent luck so far. In fact, my luck continued today when VTR was very prompt in responding to my request for internet.

I was afraid the language barrier would be a problem, but besides not understanding the delivery guys very well or asking the VTR lady to repeat stuff over the phone, nothing too drastic has gotten in my way.

So to sum, I feel like a superstar. I imagine this feeling will last until I have to pay my first round of bills in about two weeks. But for now, I'll just enjoy the euphoria.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two points for Chile

Saturday morning I had to wake up earlier than I do during the week (okay, so not that early, but I'm not a morning person) to go to my new apartment and wait for the delivery of my bed and refrigerator. I was somewhat dreading this, as the man (boy? he was like 12) at Homecenter who sold me the bed said that it would be delivered any time between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. I just imagined myself, sitting on the floor of my empty apartment twiddling my thumbs and bored out of my mind for six hours. So I packed a backpack full of "entertainment": a book, my computer (if there was no wireless at least I could play solitaire and listen to music), essays to correct and grade, lessons to plan and a blanket and pillow to take a nap on the floor.

Luckily, I needed none of that because as I was walking into the building, a woman from Homecenter called to say they would be there in 10 minutes. And they were! Everything was in place by 9:30. Then, since I knew the refrigerator wasn't coming until after 11:00 (I got the same kind of committment from this guy, "We'll be there sometime after 11:00 but defintely before 7:00 pm!") I decided to go to Casas&Ideas and buy some sheets and run some other errands.

It was bizarre to be out in Providencia on a Saturday morning. I can honestly say that never before in my life in Chile have I been up that early and out shopping on a weekend. If I'm up that early it's because I have to work. It felt kind of nice though. The air was fresher, or something. And the people were fewer and seemed friendlier. Maybe this is because the people who were out are morning people, and therefore get grumpier as the day goes on...haha.

But I digress. While I was waiting in line at some store, the man with the fridge called and said he would be there around 1:00pm. This was perfect, because it was 11:30 and it gave me time to finish my shopping and get back to my apartment. I was back a bit early, which was perfect, because he arrived a bit early! Early! In Chile! I almost fainted from the shock. I was done waiting before 1:00 pm when I had thought I would be there until 7:00 pm.

After everyone had told me horror stories about deliveries that never arrived until you called and harrassed the "customer service" representatives, or deliveries that arrived the next day and they wouldn't give them to you because you weren't there and the never called first, I was really happy that everything worked out.

Now, I can move! I think the big day will be Thursday if everything goes according to plan.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A plug for good customer service

I am in love with the Starbucks on the corner of Isidora Goyenechea and Magdalena. It's kind of small inside, so a table is not always guaranteed, but they have THE best customer service. I go there quite often (I have class every day in a building across the street) and I have never once had a bad experience. The service is efficient and the people who work there are so friendly. They always strike up conversations with me and ask me how to say things in English. They're cute. It makes me want to work there.

But don't worry, I'm not quitting my day job to become a barista. For now I'll just keep going back there and leaving tips.

Oh, and for the record, I'm not saying that other Starbucks have bad customer service. In fact, I haven't extensively patronized any other Starbucks locations, but this one sticks out in my mind as taking great care of its customers.

Monday, September 15, 2008


So last night F. came up with his own get rich quick scheme after he learned how much I make an hour working at my current job.

"Weon! Estoy puro parando el dedo aquí!" he exclaimed and then decided he would abandon his job (doing what he actually went to school for) to come work at my entry-level seasonal job dealing with tourists.

He asked me if he would be able to do my job. I replied that yes, as long as he practiced his English a little bit.

Then I added, "Oh, you would have to learn some customer service skills too."
"Customer service? What's that?" He replied.

(Okay, so that last part didn't really happen but it would have been funny if it did. Haha.)

He told me that the money I make now is as much as R. (who is a civil industrial engineer) makes. That is sad. I told F. that here, my earnings are not that much and that in fact I qualify for the poor-people's health insurance plan. I then told him that poor-people's insurance requires me to pay $60 a month. He didn't understand. Heck, I don't even understand.

It is so mind boggling to me that in Chile the salaries are so low but most everything costs the same as it does here! I just don't understand how certain parts of Santiago appear so prosperous, with new apartment buildings going up on every block, huge shopping malls teeming with people on the weekends, etc etc, but a college-educated engineer is making $1600/month! Who is buying these apartments? Who is shopping at the mall? Does everyone just go into debt to pay for things?

I think it's going to be an interesting lesson in frugality for me to survive on a Chilean salary. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Either that or I'll have to start growing that money tree in the back yard...