When we think of customer support, we generally think of the important role that our front-line sales and service people play, but it’s critical to think carefully about the role that every person plays in supporting your customer experience.

I mentioned that my new car broke down a few weeks ago (Give your Customers a Break).  The breakdown was one thing, but when they damaged the car trying to get it out of my garage, the issue became a lot more complex.

After 5 weeks, 4 re-sprays, 3 attempts to collect the car only to find it wasn’t up to scratch, 2 customer rants and 1 ‘premium’ car still in the bodyshop, I decided it was time to escalate my concerns.

After repeated requests for the head of the dealership to give me a call without success, I decided to contact the manufacturer’s Australian Head Office.  Knowing that the problem with my car was serious, and that by this stage I had pages of issues to discuss, I refused to tell the whole story to the receptionist.  Instead, I asked who took customer complaints (a Customer Relations Officer), and then asked who their manager was.

Receptionist: “That would be xxx, Head of Customer Relations”.

Me: “Great, could I please speak with him?”

Receptionist: “Oh no, he doesn’t deal with Customers”

Huh?  The Head of Customer Relations doesn’t deal with customers?  What?

I have two issues here… a) why have ‘Customer Relations’ in your title if you don’t do it? And b) Where do customers go instead?

Of course, I’ve questioned this, thinking maybe it was just a mistake, but I’ve now had it confirmed on three occasions that the Head of Customer Relations doesn’t deal with Customers.  Wow.

Ultimately, I decided to comply with their customer relations system, and outlined my issues to the Customer Relations Officer, only to find that he didn’t have the capacity or capability to help with my issue.  Another hour wasted.

So I escalated even higher… and asked to speak to the General Manager of After Sales.  Seems he doesn’t deal with customers either, but he did ask one of his staff to give me a call – the Head of Customer Relations.  The saga continues…

Who is empowered to speak to customers in your organisation?  Do your Customer support team have Customers as their top priority, or do they just react to a problem?  Do your front-line avoid referring customers up the line for fear of retribution?  Do your leaders embrace the opportunity, or do they continually seek to push customers down the line?

The message this organisation have sent me is a clear ‘We don’t care about customers – they’re just a problem’.  What’s the message your organisation sends?  Who cares?