Copyright (c) 2008 Drew Stevens PhD
Another year is about to end and it is safe to assume many are thankful for it to take leave. 2008 was a year that had more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride at a national theme park. During 2008, Americans experienced a multitude of events, from continued terrorism and war in the Middle East, to celebrity guffaws such as Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, to one of the lengthiest political campaigns in United States history.
However, while many might want to forget natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes in China, there were some unforgettable moments such as the Olympics and the worldwide economic pandemic. Media certainly kept Americans knowledgeable, and as technology continues to proliferate, media surges with it. Today, Americans simply cannot get enough information.
As events continue to stimulate our thoughts and dinner conversations, it is time to recognize some additional 2008 memories. In recent years customer service has become a continued issue amongst individuals. The area is under-researched, yet widely discussed, scrutinized, and evaluated. In addition, while the concern for customer service continues to grow, many organizations ignore the issue completely. This year is no exception. 2008 presented a challenge but the panel of judges has decided.
The Hall of Shame Top Five 5) Oil Companies – Without exception these organizations could be the number one pick, let alone coming in fifth. It is incredible that these organizations found it plausible that the public would believe that five dollars for a gallon of gasoline was justified. I never thought I would live to see a tank of gasoline as expensive as a fine bottle of wine. Perhaps I will bring a gas card to my next dinner invitation. It will become laughable when prices tumble and executives cry over lost bonuses.
4) Credit Card Companies – The economic volatility of 2008 froze credit markets and regretfully deterred companies from doing business with each other. Yet while the federal government eased credit for business borrowers, little was done for the consumer. At press time, the federal funds rate lists at .25 percent. Consumers owe $971 billion, which is $3,184 of credit card debt per person, or $8,299 per household. (Source: Federal Reserve, G.19 Release, November 7, 2008) However, interest rates on credit cards continue to rise. It is always a treat to have Big Brother take care of Big Brother.
3) American Organizations – Third place is a posthumous award given to most organizations that use audible recording equipment to interface with clients. Any company that has a recording asking you to choose One for English, Two for Spanish, then plays lousy music, thus offering you more choices only to tell you that your hold time is significant must be on this list. In addition, these same companies request that you input your account number, the last four digits of your social security number, your pin code, and tell you to wait deserve this accolade. Those companies that request that you continue to hold yet when an operator picks up the call five days later requesting you to repeat your name, your account number, the last four digits of your social security number, your pin code, and your first dog’s haircut date must win this award!
2) Airlines – Without question the airline industry wins annual accolades in the customer service area. Truthfully, the economic crisis is at the pinnacle of disaster in an industry riddled with mismanagement, highly paid labor, and mistreatment of clients. Just when you thought customer service was poor, the recession brought an onslaught of new issues such as pricing for everything connected to the flight, including the printing costs for the air safety cards and the inaudible speaker that announces cancelled flight information. The airline industry, with mounting debt, lessening services, smaller aircraft, and lousy on-time performance, is a platinum member of the hall of shame.
And the winner of the 2008 Customer Service Hall of Shame is …
Stock Market Traders, Analysts, Portfolio Managers, Hedge Fund Advisors et. al. – This wonderful egregious class of characters consistently, mischievously, and deplorably depicted a decent market without worries. The malicious and unethical acts of corporate CEOs and numerous others begged, borrowed, and misappropriated monies for their own gain. In addition, while the bottom continued to fall like a meteor from the sky, many continued to take compensation. This wonderful cast of characters devalued the American Dollar, destroyed individual portfolios, and created a worldwide economic recession not experienced since 1929. Boesky, Capone, and Bundy will be in good company when many of these individuals check into Club Fed.