Respect Your Customers’ Time: Resolve Customer Service Complaints Quickly |

Did you ever stop to think about how much time people spend on the phone making calls to complain about bad customer service?A recent article in The Street pointed out that, on average, adults in the U.S. spend about 364 minutes every year placing calls to report complaints, waiting and hoping to talk to someone who will make things right. In other words, if you are one of the “average people,” you spend about six and a half hours each year on the phone. In six years’ time you lose almost an entire work week, and over 25 years, an entire month of your life will be dedicated to complaining about bad customer service. Much of that time will likely be spent “on hold” (which could in itself be considered bad customer service).The author of the article, Brian O’Connell, used data from Populus Research and Kana Software, which refer to the “complaint wait” as the “hidden price of doing business.” Here are some other interesting facts that the study produced:• More than 70 percent of consumers in the U.S. have taken the time to voice a customer service complaint in the last three years. The average time spent to lodge a complaint was one hour and four minutes – for just one complaint!
• In most cases, actually getting problem resolution didn’t just happen in one attempt. Sixty-nine percent of consumers had to repeat their complaint, and on average, it took three attempts to get a problem resolved.
• Thirty-nine percent of complaints were made by phone call, and 33 percent via e-mail.
• Despite its growing popularity, social media – such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp – was the channel for only 7 percent of the complaints.Personally, I expected the number for social media complaints to be higher. Other surveys show that more consumers are turning to social media to air customer service grievances. Even at 7 percent, however, complaints via social media have to be taken very seriously as they are visible not only to the company receiving the complaint, but also to the customer’s friends and followers, and in some cases (such as Yelp) to the public. Even if the overall percentage is low, customer service complaints via social media are definitely on the rise as consumers realize its effectiveness and companies’ desire to maintain a positive image.This article should be a wake-up call to all types of businesses, especially those that market to the general consumer. It’s surprising to learn just how much time is spent on the phone dealing with customer service issues. Time is a precious commodity, and if you “steal” it from a customer, you are showing a tremendous amount of disrespect.Customers have limited time and can’t afford to waste it with repeated calls or long waits on the phone. If you don’t have respect for their time, it won’t be long before they decide to find another company with better service and faster resolution when a problem does occur. Be smart. Respect your customers’ time and always fix problems quickly… and with the right attitude!

Five Tips For Choosing A Home Telephone Service Package |

Everyone has a cellphone these days, which means traditional home telephone service has sort of fallen by the wayside. But not so fast! Many national and local carriers have listened to the demands of their customers and have begun “bundling” phone packages in response to them. There are numerous benefits that come with having a landline, and listed below are five of them.Cost EfficiencyWe’re all looking for a bargain in this economy. After all, home telephone service options are up against some stiff competition; cell phones are becoming increasingly more expensive, but that could mean savings for the prudent consumer. With simple household packages starting as low as $9.99 per month, the decision to install a home phone hasn’t been this easy since the 90’s! In fact, many people are returning to land lines for this reason alone.BundlesFor consumers wanting to save money and have it all, “bundling” can be the perfect option. Typically, “bundling” means Internet, phone and cable TV service billed as a single entity. More and more entertainment providers are offering these types of packages because they offer consumers more choice and convenience when it comes to communications and entertainment. According to recent news articles, the public has responded in a big way. The report says consumers are being drawn away from giant conglomerates in favor of local providers; the exodus is due in part because small providers began adding home telephone service to their Internet and TV packages. Bigger companies are in turn are trying to respond to this trend by offering their own, more expensive packages.Pros and Cons-Local ProvidersThe pros of going with a local provider range from customer experiences to product familiarity. Many local providers have served their communities for decades and have built a reputation across generations. This could mean better customer service in the long run and more leverage for the consumer when it comes to making deals. However, if a customer moves they may not be able to take their existing service with them (like they would with a national company). For those not planning to move out of their service area anytime soon, perhaps their best bet is to support a local provider.Pros and Cons-National CompaniesNationals entice customers with their flexibility when it comes to moving out of a service area. Because these companies are national, relocating your service is easy most of the time. However, customers may get stuck in a sinuous stream of redirection when it comes to speaking with a representative. This is due in part to the overwhelming number of customers these companies deal with on a regular basis. If prompt customer service comes at the top of your list, perhaps doing business with a local company is your best bet.Do Your ResearchNeighbors, family and friends can be a great resource when it comes to deciding whether or not to get home telephone service. The industry relies on customer reviews, and the best way to get them is by asking around. The Internet is full of review sites as well; but like any review, use them for research purposes only, and take them with a grain of salt.For those of you looking for home telephone service, be sure to shop locally before calling the big guys about landline installation.

The Residential Plumbing Service Industry Is Under Attack |

We had pending legislation back in 2013 in Washington State that would have stopped false advertising of plumbing services to the consumer by those that were not licensed but… we never got it passed. The reason it failed was that nobody but the cheaters had any interest in the bill.Lack of effective plumber license enforcement in Washington State is transforming a skilled licensed trade into a commercial con game costing consumers and skilled craftsmen dearly.The Issues Affecting Licensed Plumbers and Plumbing Contractors:1. Unlicensed Plumbers – ineffective enforcement of plumber licensing2. Fake Plumbing Companies – General Contractors Advertising Plumbing Services3. The Cost of Advertising – Is incredibly high due to unfair competition from the unlicensed4. Lack of Consumer Awareness – They don’t know that real plumbers are a licensed trade. (Drain cleaners are not plumbers)5. Other trades wishing to perform plumbing services – i.e. Builders, General Contractors and the HVAC tradesThe plumbing trade is a regulated industry in Washington State. All plumbing work must be performed by those with a certificate of experience; in other words – a license. Over the years there can been a concerted effort by those not in the plumbing trade to violate the law that restricts who may engage in the trade. The attack on the plumber and the plumbing contractor has come from multiple directions.There is not one enemy of the licensed plumber, but many. The most significant root cause of the plumber license losing credibility and value over the years is the passivity and inattention of the licensed plumber. As a rule, once we have the license in our hand we don’t think much about it other than to complain about the renewal fees or the imposition of the continuing education requirement.A plumber license represents years of study, certified training and official permission to engage in a regulated profession. The dictionary defines license as “a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful”. A license excludes others by law.If enforcement of a law is weak or ineffective – nobody will obey the law.Today the plumbing industry is under attack from those that wish to be engaged in the business of plumbing without a license. The sad fact is that there hasn’t been much resistance from those of us that are most affected i.e. licensed plumbers, plumbing contractors and homeowners. The plumbing industry has been invaded by anybody that wants to represent themselves as plumbers without the license because nobody has had a keen interest in the enforcement of plumber licensing.Who is violating licensing laws? Answer: Anybody who wants to…The following trades and businesses all advertise plumbing services today – effectively violation of existing law:1. Rooter companies with no licensed plumbers or only a token plumber2. General contractors advertising plumbing services3. Plumber trainees that abandon their training and advertise as contractors4. Handymen with or without contractor registration5. Fraudulent website plumbing companies with fake registrations6. HVAC companies advertising water heater sales and installations7. Water heater companies advertising installation of water heaters8. Hardware stores offering water heater installations9. Building maintenance service companies providing plumbing repairs.10. Retail Stores – Home Depot, Lowe’s11. Marketing Companies with fake websites selling leads12. Third Party Referral Services that promote plumbing businesses with no licenses13. Website re-sellers14. Amazon is now selling plumbing services on their website (2016)It is a long list…As a licensed plumber for over thirty five years, I have to admit that I had no idea how easily my license could become a worthless piece of paper until I saw my phone traffic drop off and customers demanding that we match quotes from unlicensed competitors. I didn’t realize that the value of a license is based solely upon what others think it to be. It’s like money. Money is just a piece of paper with ink on it. It only has value if you and I agree that it has some representative value. A couple of hundred years ago a dollar was a day’s wages. Today a dollar might buy you a day-old doughnut. That dollar bill is only worth what we are willing to trade it for. My father described Italians during the Second World War hauling lira in wheelbarrows to exchange at the bank for a few US dollars.My fear today is that our plumber licenses will be worthless soon and we won’t even notice until it is too late. The homeowners don’t know that plumbers need licenses so the license is worth nothing to them. The rooter companies advertise plumbing with a contractor registration as cover (anybody can get a contractor registration) – the public assumes a contractor registration is a license. They don’t know the difference because the rooter companies, and others, have aggressively been substituting “plumbing technicians” instead of plumbers for years.So what is the solution?Well, I don’t know. It would help if the consumer knew that any plumber they hired needed to have a license in their pocket. It would also be helpful if there was a local business directory that wasn’t full of unlicensed plumbing advertisements.Luckily, there is a new local directory in Seattle that actually checks the contractor registration before allowing the listing to be published:… It’s a start