The Arrogance of Excellence

There are companies I call, like my cable company, where service is so bad that getting a human being in less than five rings is a successful call no matter what happens from there. When service is bad, even a small success is worth noting.

The flip side occurs with those rare companies where service is almost always outstanding. In my experience Wells Fargo Bank fits this category. The flip side? Their telephones system. My last three calls have been disasters until I have worked my way beyond “the system” and gotten to a human being.

Three times over several weeks I have gotten a recorded greeting and then periods of silence followed by snippets of words and finally comments that make it sound like it is my fault that I haven’t taken the appropriate action. What action? I don’t know how to react to silence. I haven’t had a good experience with their phone system in so long that I’m not sure how it works. After some fumbling around I eventually get to the point where the only option is to speak with a banker. Why couldn’t we just start there?

Yesterday I called to find a nearby branch. How did that go? “May I have your account number?” Why do you need an account number to tell me where your branches are? Do you have a secret unlisted branch for account holders? Do I have to give you my Social Security Number to find out when it is open?

The arrogance? There is no way to communicate with them to let them know that the phone system isn’t working. The Web site has a place to participate in a survey about their service but the survey is now closed. Apparently they know everything they want to know about their service. Most of the time their service is great but the phone system isn’t working. I am not about to deal with the hassle of a broken phone system to tell them the phone system isn’t working.

When service is mediocre, anything that works is good news. When service is outstanding it seems to carry an arrogance that has no interest in keeping it good or making it better. How about a link from the Web site: “How are we doing?” “How can we serve you better?” How about a simple way to let customers help you keep your service outstanding and letting us know that somebody in your organization cares?

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