Quest for Customer Service
It is all about customer service these days. I left my surly and poorly communicative cable company (Comcast) for DirectTV satellite, which so far has been exceptional. DirectTV was a breaze to set up service and has answered questions along the way with ease, honesty (they had to go check to verify the correct answet), and kindness.
We has a similar experience at IKEA at Potomac Mill last weekend as we were piecing together elements for our office. The woman who was helping us there took her time explaining things we may need and may save us money. She verified we had all the parts we needed and coordinated a pick-up for us that day as well as tied missing items together from other stores to be delived a little later. She also walked us over and introduced us to another employee who was equally helpful that tied kitchen cabinets into our office plan to neatly store items above the desk. I have had a string of horrible customer service of late that this really stood out. Some of the higher-end furniture stores have offered or provided similar service, but we did not expect it from IKEA. Actually the guy at Best Buy was equally as helpful and offered the best price options when I picked up the hardware for satellite TV.
On the Web there used to be great sites that were well thought though and had great customer service. Fat Brain books was fantastic, but hit the other end of the spectrum when Barnes and Noble took over (I have had horrible experiences with B&N on-line, but their physical stores are rather good). The Verizon site is utterly miserable with no contingency planning at all. The USA.net e-mail service is horrible with out American Express customer service behind it. It seems that many of the well thought through services sites that privide what you need we gobbled up by large entities that do not care about their sites or those that use them.
I still love Amazon as they still have a rather well thought trough service and their customer service is nearly always very good to excellent. I have had excellent service and support from nearly every Apple site or related site I have run across. The Apple store are great, but so are the Apple local stores. The understanding of the product and the people is lost at PC based stores, there is no passion or caring in the PC community, or maybe it is just burried somewhere.
Part of the poor customer service could be attributed to lack of paying for good customer service or not training for customer service properly. Over extended support teams and people can quickly lead to poor or lacking customer service. These elements can quickly lead to a miserable experience, but having people in a service world that are not truely passionate about product and the customer seems to be a common trait everywhere. Where I find great customer service, there is support from top to bottom in the organization for training and caring for the employees, but the biggest factor is passion. Passionate service folks will knock your socks off everytime, given they are not over stretched or worn down.
Follow the passion