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CSR Bashing


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#1 OFFLINE   MrMojoJojo

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:04 PM

As I'm sure you all know, its not just the installers that peruse this site. There's quite a few CSRs (from both companies) that do as well. Some of us, like myself, do our best to help and learn from you guys what's going on, to identify trends, and use tricks that are mentioned here when dealing with the remainder of our customers. Granted, there are some that just don't care and want to get their forty hours, their paycheck, and roll out; this is the minority, not the majority.

Now, even though I don't see it as much as I used to, I still see threads and posts that basically portray CSRs to be nothing more than higher-paid McDonald's employees. Yes, there are some out there that just don't understand the finer details and technological aspects of satellite systems, and that's not their fault. The training is there, but some just don't understand it. Is this a reason to paint them into the corners that many do?

Believe it or not, we are sympathetic to your plights 95% of the time. We know what it's like to not have something work and be frustrated with it because, guess what? We're human beings too! Sure, there may be times when we just can't connect with the fact that you are upset that the volume on seven different channels is 5% lower than all the remaining ones. We still try to do our best to help you.

And as far as doing the same troubleshooting steps that you've done a million times? Guess what, we've had it drilled into our heads to do those things because experience proves that most of the time those steps work. Those with problems never take into consideration those without. There are millions of DBS customers, and its never even pondered that those who call in with issues (and I freely admit that its often forgotten on our end) are vastly outnumbered by the ones who aren't.

Most of us are just working schmucks, trying to make our way through life and support our families. In many towns and smaller cities a call center for billing/tech support/etc. through a satellite company (be it directly owned or subcontracted) is one of the best jobs in town. Me personally, I worked every retail, restaurant, and fast food job possible. Hell, I even attempted to work for a Kirby dealership (what a sham operation that was). When my local company came around, I decided it was time to get out of the greasepits, stop smelling like eggs and french fries even after showering for twenty minutes (scrubbing the entire time), and generally having no life as I worked overnights at a Perkins. I started out on the floor, and felt generally helpless and like I had failed in some way when I couldn't resolve the problem the customer was having. Over time, I got to where I am. If you pay attention to any of the posts that I briefly mention what I do, you'd figure out both who I work for and what part of the company I'm involved in. Sure, I got called more than my fair share of names along the way, and that's understandable.

What's not understandable, however, is how its generally thought we aren't human, in some cases less than. We have performance metrics we need to meet in order to keep our jobs, so if it ever seems rushed, that's why. Most believe in the fact that we can help and that we can take care of the customer, but it hurts just slightly when that feeling does not seem to be reciprocated. I can't begin to count how many times I've been told "You don't give a %^$% what I'm doing just as long as you get your check on payday." And that may be so on some days.... or when you've had to listen to a 45-minute rant before the issue's even been addressed.

And don't even get me started on Retention abuse. Those systems are in place for customer's who have had terrible experiences beyond the limits of acceptability, bringing customers back into the fold that left for whatever reason, trying to keep the customers that may be looking to leave for financial reasons, or to sway you from jumping to the other guy (or even, god forbid, cable). It is not in place to give you that free HDDVR that you feel you are entitled to, or the 9 months of all the premium packages because a call was accidentally dropped.

This isn't some kind of "pity" thread. Just something to keep in mind the next time you want to blame a CSR for anything and everything that's wrong. We are bound by what we can tell you, bound by our avenues to help you, and bound by the fact that we don't have the answers all the time.

[/rant]
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#2 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:19 PM

In my 14 years with DirecTV, I've only dealt with 2 CSRs who I felt had some "issues", either in a lack of training or professional communication skills. Otherwise, I've dealt with many of them over the years and found them to be professional courteous, and having the customers good will in mind.

I've taken the view that for every one bad CSR there are probably 1000 bad customers...you know...those who want everything now, everything free, and everything their way every time...whether or not its "reasonable" to the rest of the world.

In any case...I've also found that having a calm reasonable discussion typically results in a calm reasonable response. Who woulda thought? :D

Personally, I don't have the stomach to do CSR-type work. There's way too much temptation to tell obnoxious and arrogant customers off. To those who do it - they're a better man than I Gunga Din.
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#3 OFFLINE   MrMojoJojo

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:26 PM

In any case...I've also found that having a calm reasonable discussion typically results in a calm reasonable response. Who woulda thought? :D


Often I want to tell the ones that start accusing us of being "snotty," dismissive" or even plain rude "Sir/Madam, I must not have been reflecting your speech patterns to match this conversation and not realized it... Many apologies on my end"

There's way too much temptation to tell obnoxious and arrogant customers off.


It was a battle at first to not sound off, but every time I've been tempted to tell someone just where to stick it, I remember my daughter and the urge fades.
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#4 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:29 PM

In a nutshell, I suspect that Customer Service discussions (both ways) somewhat echo the general population's inability to calmly or rationally communicate on almost any topic.

Someone's yelling, accusing, threatening, arguing, or some other thing on TV, on the radio, at sporting events, and almost anywhere. I've seen ugly arguments at 5-star restaurants just in the past 30 days.

These are hyper times we live in... :eek2:
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#5 OFFLINE   MrMojoJojo

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:48 PM

I've seen ugly arguments at 5-star restaurants just in the past 30 days.



"I said Canard L'Orange with Rosemary not Parsley you damn Frog! And how dare you give me the September 1983 Les Snootee Shiraz when I said October 1983 Les Snootee Merlot! Come on Buffy, we are never coming back to this restaurant again!"
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#6 OFFLINE   ironwood

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:11 AM

I hate this "customer-is-always-right" policy. You know dam well that there are syckos out there who got no life, no friends, nothing to do between paydays when they collect welfare. So they will call and enjoy a conversation with nice people on the phone trying to please them for 30 minutes or so. Now that when sycko is in a good mood. Next day sycko is in a bad mood and it will call and throw fits and cuss and threaten, use faul language untill maybe a high rank supervisor will finally hang up on it. This is wrong and companies should change policy just a little bit.

#7 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 01:26 AM

Now, even though I don't see it as much as I used to, I still see threads and posts that basically portray CSRs to be nothing more than higher-paid McDonald's employees.

...

Most of us are just working schmucks, trying to make our way through life and support our families. In many towns and smaller cities a call center for billing/tech support/etc. through a satellite company (be it directly owned or subcontracted) is one of the best jobs in town. Me personally, I worked every retail, restaurant, and fast food job possible. Hell, I even attempted to work for a Kirby dealership (what a sham operation that was). When my local company came around, I decided it was time to get out of the greasepits, stop smelling like eggs and french fries even after showering for twenty minutes (scrubbing the entire time), and generally having no life as I worked overnights at a Perkins.


I really hate to do this... and I'm one of the ones who almost always posts in those CSR-rant-a-thon threads to defend CSRs from the over-generalization...

But it is kind of ironic that you took a jab at McDonald's employees while talking about how unfair it is when people go off on you because they think they are better than you.

I remember when I was in high school and at a McDonald's for lunch.. one of the guys with me didn't get his fries, and instead of politely reminding the person behind the counter of this mistake he went into a tirade of how incompetent they were. I was very embarassed for the employee, and basically never went to lunch with that guy again!

I'm always against generalized bashing... and I'm also against putting one job above another. People like to talk down to the "trash man" for instance... and yet no one wants to take out their own trash... so that "lowly" trash man is a very valuable part of society and earns his wage honorably.

At all levels in all walks of life there are people who fall down on the job... this goes from CEOs to the kid working his first minimum wage job and everything in between. A good worker earns his pay. IF he feels he is worth more, then he gets a better job or works harder or quits on principle. I see lots of folks who complain that they aren't paid enough and they take longer breaks to "make it even" or something.. but nobody ever gives back their paychecks.

Customers sometimes have legitimate complaints, and sometimes get crappy service... Customers also go nuts and are way off-base and even make things personal with a CSR sometimes.

Anyway... I'm in support of your intended message, just wanted to point out that you yourself may have unintentionally slighted people who you think work jobs that are beneath you at the moment.

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#8 OFFLINE   Brandon428

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 02:53 AM

I've only spoken to one CSR that frustrated me,but all other times I've been treated like royalty. Last year I called in and asked if I could get some kind of deal for Sunday Ticket. I currently had Premier and really couldn't afford anymore than that which was still expensive for me. When I told him my financial situation he told me I could have the new customer offer which was 4 free months of Premier and 4 payments of 70.00 for ST and SF. I didn't expect to get this deal based on the fact I had been with Directv for 5 years and I had just renewed my contract with the purchase of an HR-20,but I got it anyway and when I asked for a deal this year they gave me 100.00 off ST and free SF. In my experience if you just be kind and fair the majority of CSRs will be kind and fair also. I'm happy though that there are CSRs that care about their job and take interest in it.

#9 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:50 PM

In one way or another, everyone's job is customer service. Certainly mine is.

To the original poster, you are absolutely right. There are excellent CSRs. There are also some real "pieces of work" out there. By and large I've found DIRECTV CSRs to be helpful and friendly, and I certainly can't fault them for being less knowledgeable than I am.

However, if I may say this, echoing ironwood: The customer is not always right. In fact, in my experience talking with customers, almost 100% of them are incorrect in some way or another. They do not know about my processes, they do not know how long things take or what they cost, they do not know the reasoned decision that led to them not getting what they want.

The other side of that is that the customer is never wrong. I do believe that. He is misguided quite frequently, and I know that sounds like nitpicking. I try to remember that the customer is never wrong, because if he is wrong and I am right, I have a moral imperative over him. I am superior to him. That could not be further from the truth.

The excellent CSR is the one who looks to the root of the customer's frustration and answers his real questions, almost to the point of ignoring his actual words if necessary. A customer who comes to me and says, "I don't know why you people can't just use what I sent you" is really saying, "Please help me figure out how to avoid spending more money."

Often times, the CSR's job is to reach out to the customer, figure out the real issue and address it. This is even more true with a hardware CSR. A customer may be telling you "I can't record Dirty Jobs" but he is not telling you why. Does he have no picture on Discovery? Are there any episodes scheduled? Did he misspell the name when searching? Does ne not even get Discovery? Finding the core issue can be so hard.

Finally, the hardest thing to do is to understand that "we're not like other people." We DBSTalkers tend to be a lot more tech-savvy, and so level one tech support is extremely annoying. Yes, we reset the box. Yes, it's plugged in. Yes we are sure. Yes, we reset it again. But remember, script-based customer service works in 90% of calls and keeps the real experts from going insane. It's just annoying when we have to muck on through it. Try to be patient with the level one CSR, and a bit of advice.. don't play that game where you know what's wrong but you wait for them to tell you.

I tip my hat to DIRECTV and Dish CSRs who read this site, and on behalf of the millions of helpless users, I wish you patience and compassion. To the millions of helpless users, I suggest you remember that every CSR is someone's mother or someone's child. Someone somewhere would be aghast at how you treat them.

Finally, a true story from the early days of computer customer service: a lady calls the support desk in a fright, and tells the CSR, "I've been pushing the help button ALL DAY and no one's here yet!!!"
Opinions expressed by me are my own and do not necessarily reflect
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#10 OFFLINE   dshu82

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 01:52 PM

I rarely have had to call, and every time I do I have recieved good service from D* CSR's. I ususally helps that I can tell them all the troubleshooting steps I have taken, etc. from this website! LOL.

I have managed call centers for 13 years, and certainly understand the nuances of customer service, hiring the right people, retention, etc. I also understand the how call center jobs are desirable in certain areas of the country where there may not be many other options. Typically these people embrace and appreciate the opportunity to work for a larger company.

I also always want to say Kudos to all the CSR's and Installers that participate and read this site, as they help all of us, and probably learn something along the way.
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#11 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 02:13 PM

Frequently, I feel sorry for the CSR's at Dish where I get my service.

It's hard to get mad at a CSR when the company issues a news release about new HD channels and a complete revision in the HD packages without at least advance-copying that release to all CSRs with some additional information like "we'll be training you on this in two weeks, so if you get a call tell them to call back after...."

But then the news release, which was favorably significant from a market competition standpoint, wasn't sent to shareholders via the usual newsletter system.

#12 OFFLINE   Sharkie_Fan

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 02:57 PM

However, if I may say this, echoing ironwood: The customer is not always right. In fact, in my experience talking with customers, almost 100% of them are incorrect in some way or another. They do not know about my processes, they do not know how long things take or what they cost, they do not know the reasoned decision that led to them not getting what they want.

The other side of that is that the customer is never wrong. I do believe that. He is misguided quite frequently, and I know that sounds like nitpicking. [...]


I mostly agree with you here Stuart. And, maybe I'm the one nitpicking a little... ;)

But to me, the customer is always right - even when the customer clearly isn't right! :D That doesn't mean you roll over and give them anything they ask for. "The customer is always right" has more to do with attitude than the actual resolution to a problem.

I understand 100% where you're coming from - being the same line of work, I get all the same questions you do. In fact, today, I walked a customer through the "production process" from start to finish because he couldn't understand why one configuration of his job cost 3 times as much as a different configuration.

The trick to "good customer service", as you pointed out, is to get to the root of the problem without alienating the customer - even if that means ignoring, for all intents and purposes, the words coming out of the customers mouth.

I'm not as good at it as I could be, but "customer service" to great extent is treating the customer like they're "right", while educating them as to why they "aren't actually right".

In my experience, 9 times out of 10, if you take the "customer is always right" attitude while educating the customer as to why they're misguided, they'll continue to be a customer.... which in any "service industry" is vital. Keep the customers you have, cause the good ones are hard to replace!

As to the OP.... I think that the "customer service bashing" falls into the same category as general product bashing. People with bad experiences are more likely to come talk about them. I've talked to quite a few DirecTV CSRs over the years. Most of them were very nice and helpful. I remember very little about those experiences! Of course, the one guy who tried to tell me that I couldn't get FSN Bay Area in HD because DirecTV only had 'HD rights to some games for my hometown'. I can quote you almost verbatim every excuse he tried to pass off on me! I think most of us realize that by and large, the CSRs are a helpful bunch. But, the bad experiences are the ones that are going to get talked about, unfortunately. Pile up enough bad experiences, and people start to generalize that ALL the customer service experiences are bad (the same way ALL the HR2x's in the world suck ;)).

Most of us know you guys are a good bunch... even if we do pile on from time to time! ;)
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#13 OFFLINE   tcusta00

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:41 PM

I mostly agree with you here Stuart. And, maybe I'm the one nitpicking a little... ;)

But to me, the customer is always right - even when the customer clearly isn't right! :D That doesn't mean you roll over and give them anything they ask for. "The customer is always right" has more to do with attitude than the actual resolution to a problem.

I understand 100% where you're coming from - being the same line of work, I get all the same questions you do. In fact, today, I walked a customer through the "production process" from start to finish because he couldn't understand why one configuration of his job cost 3 times as much as a different configuration.

The trick to "good customer service", as you pointed out, is to get to the root of the problem without alienating the customer - even if that means ignoring, for all intents and purposes, the words coming out of the customers mouth.

I'm not as good at it as I could be, but "customer service" to great extent is treating the customer like they're "right", while educating them as to why they "aren't actually right".

In my experience, 9 times out of 10, if you take the "customer is always right" attitude while educating the customer as to why they're misguided, they'll continue to be a customer.... which in any "service industry" is vital. Keep the customers you have, cause the good ones are hard to replace!

As to the OP.... I think that the "customer service bashing" falls into the same category as general product bashing. People with bad experiences are more likely to come talk about them. I've talked to quite a few DirecTV CSRs over the years. Most of them were very nice and helpful. I remember very little about those experiences! Of course, the one guy who tried to tell me that I couldn't get FSN Bay Area in HD because DirecTV only had 'HD rights to some games for my hometown'. I can quote you almost verbatim every excuse he tried to pass off on me! I think most of us realize that by and large, the CSRs are a helpful bunch. But, the bad experiences are the ones that are going to get talked about, unfortunately. Pile up enough bad experiences, and people start to generalize that ALL the customer service experiences are bad (the same way ALL the HR2x's in the world suck ;)).

Most of us know you guys are a good bunch... even if we do pile on from time to time! ;)


Anyone in any kind of sales or customer-facing position would do well to read and internalize this post. Spot on!

#14 OFFLINE   Draconis

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:43 PM

Having previously worked as a CSR for Dell, Earthlink, PeoplePC, Logitech, (just to name a few) I can sympathize with you completely.

It’s hard to put into words, I’ve been the irate customer, and I’ve been the person on the other side of the line. While I am an expert in some areas I understand that I am quite ignorant in others.

When people are happy they say nothing, when they do not get what they want in the manner they want it they complain, and their viewpoint is always correct.

Even when they have no understanding of how the process/technology works.

#15 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:54 PM

I believe the best depiction is not that the "customer is always right"...because that in inaccurate more times than not..they are wrong...

rather...

"The customer should be made whole whenever possible"...that's more of a customer service mantra.
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#16 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 04:13 PM

Here's a timely post. This is at the end of a bad experience. It is possible to get a good CSR.

So, I called customer service and lo & behold, I got the most helpful CSR ever. With her supervisor's approval, she waived the activation fee for the external drive and is having a tech come out to fix the connection to my DVD. AND, a sincere apology.



#17 OFFLINE   Sharkie_Fan

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 04:56 PM

I believe the best depiction is not that the "customer is always right"...because that in inaccurate more times than not..they are wrong...

rather...

"The customer should be made whole whenever possible"...that's more of a customer service mantra.


Sure. I think that would be a fair statement.

Perhaps an even better phrasing: "The customer is always most important". That's really what it boils down to, isn't it. Educating the customer as to why they're wrong while still making them feel as if you value them.

I stuck with "The customer is always right" (even though, taken literally, it's wrong) simply because that's the phrase that everyone knows and is familiar with. Really, did "The customer is always right" EVER mean that? Was it ever supposed to be taken literally? I don't think it was (though I could be wrong here). I think it was always just a way to remind people in customer service positions the proper way to treat a customer, even if they're rude, obnoxious, and dead wrong.

My employees know what I mean when I tell them "The customer is always right". It's not a literal thing, but it's the attitude I expect them to take when dealing with a customer.
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#18 OFFLINE   Richard King

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 06:53 PM

There's obviously something wrong with me. Of course people have told me that for years for other reasons, but, in the time that I have had Dish, which is from the big inning, I have never had to call a CSR for anything on my system. So, I can honestly say that I have NEVER had a problem with any Dish CSR's.
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#19 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 07:04 PM

There's obviously something wrong with me. Of course people have told me that for years for other reasons, but, in the time that I have had Dish, which is from the big inning, I have never had to call a CSR for anything on my system. So, I can honestly say that I have NEVER had a problem with any Dish CSR's.

On the DirecTV side, I've had perhaps 2-3 real "need" calls to the CSRs over 14 years or so...with the other calls consisting of me seeking something - change of service, adding new services, etc....long before the current ability to do those things were online as they are now.
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#20 OFFLINE   ironwood

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 01:44 AM

Churn rate at this company is 1.5% per MONTH. That translates to 18% a year. One in every 5 customers switches to competitors. Question is who are those people. How many of them had minor or major problems but never had a chance/time/patience/phone number to call and get help. Instead of giving them few minutes of help CSRs have to spend hours and hours with customers-who-are-always-right but in a sense customers-abusing-the-system.

There must be a set limit to how much customer is right. If there is no limit bottom line will suffer tremendously. You paying close attention to a select group of active customers while there is a huge number of regular folks fleeing the company and taking their subscriber fees to the competitor.




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