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Do you have a customer service protocol in your business? What’s the standard amount of time you would make a new client wait for a price quote? How long does it take to apply a refund to an unhappy customer?

I’m asking because customer service is such a HUGE part of your business, especially us small business owners or solopreneurs. If people feel like they’re being cared for and their concerns are heard, you still have a chance to win them over in the future.

If they get frustrated at the lack of communication, they will likely charge back their purchase or submit a PayPal complaint and may even tell their friends about your lack of customer service. Goodness knows what kind of reputation damage a negative online review can cause a small business owner! Customer service is everything to small business success.

But are big companies immune to these ‘good customer service’ rules? Sometimes I think so, because last night my husband spent 90 minutes (yes, that number is correct) on the phone with Sirius XM and the majority of that time was on hold.

Granted, it got to a point where I think he truly wanted to see how long it would take someone to get back on the line. But when no one was on the line with him at 12:30am, he finally gave in and hung up.

There’s no resolution to our problem (it’s a small one but still) and now we’re both leery about making that phone call again. I guarantee whichever customer service rep is so lucky to answer our call, they will still put us on hold while trying to find ways to NOT resolve our problem.

But when companies get SO big that they don’t care about their customers, what is the consumer’s alternative? Sure, we could cancel our account but that’s not hurting Sirius. I’m not aware of any other satellite radio companies so it’s not like there’s tons of competition and we could threaten to leave them.

For all intents and purposes, they know they have the customers by the you-know-whats and quite simply do not care. Do companies even train their employees about how to give good customer service?

It’s a pet peeve of mine when cashiers don’t talk to you or at least look you in the eye. When I was a teenager and working various jobs, I was ALWAYS trained to move quickly but accurately so there wouldn’t be a line. Step in to help others if it meant moving the customers through quickly. After all, a waiting customer can very quickly turn into a nasty customer.

But I don’t think companies of any size teach that any more. Actually, I stand corrected. My teenage daughter just started working at our grocery store and she was told that the cashiers are timed to be sure they’re moving quickly enough. Of course, that may be just trying to get the most money & productivity out of them as opposed to actually taking care of the customer, but I’ve been in plenty of retail lines where it moves slow as molasses.

What are your thoughts on the lack of customer service in this country? Do you find that anyone cares about the consumer any more? Maybe it’s a cyclical thing with me because I just found this post from last summer when I wrote about another bad customer service experience. What’s a consumer to do?