Monthly Archives: June 2012

You Want Me To Do What?

A friend of mine was asked some strange things in an interview. Well, I think they’re strange and some people think they’re perfectly normal. So, I went to go get a different perspective. Thanks to my love of LinkedIn, I’ve found some great HR/Career communities in there and I’ve been commenting and reading a lot of the things HR-Types look for and passing those on to friends.

So I posted the following question in one of the forums:

I had some questions from an actual interview. A friend interviewed for an Administrative Assistant-type job and the interviewer asked questions like: “Tell me about a time when you’ve lied.” “Tell me a time when you’ve been sent to the principal’s office.” Then, after hearing that the applicant went to school for an English major with a vocal minor, The interviewer asked the applicant to sing a song for him.

Does any of this sound legal?

Here are the responses from the community – Actual HR Directors and Recruiters.

CEO and Executive Director:

Nicholas – illegal, no. Incredibly stupid? this one takes the cake. If I were asked something like that (lying), I’d give some innocuous example of a white lie told to my kinds about Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. OR better yet, if as an Admin assistant, ‘I told someone my boss was not in the office after he told me to tell everyone he was out’ needing to finish a report or something official. As far as the song, I’d tell them ‘my vocal coach advises me not to sing unless I’m getting paid to do so’, or ‘in front of an audience of more than 25’.

I really enjoyed his response. I think, if you’re put in that position, you might have to respond with some sort of silly snark.

Sales Manager at a National Furniture Company:

If I were asked such questions, I would ask MYSELF if this is really a company that would be a good fit for me.

I wholeheartedly agree with the above sentiment. I think I’d have to walk away.

A Job-Seeker:

I have seen similar questions on personality exams. I do not see the questions being illegal, but I cannot see how singing a song is relevant to being an Administrative Assistant. Unless perhaps entertaining is part of the job description. The other questions seem like a catch-22. I agree with “Sales Manager” in wondering if that is a company I would want to work for.

I’m noticing a trend here, from manager and employee alike.

Store Manager at a National Clothing Company:

Tell your friend to run for his/her life.

It’s true, A real trend.

Human Resources Director – Education

Wait a minute…there’s no Santa, no Easter Bunny? I’m bummed. Love Steve’s response. I agree that they are questions probing for your reaction and creativity when faced with unforseen spur of the moment challenges, and how you would respond. I would’ve sung jingle bells!

Finally, A response in the other direction. I think this is a case of what you see, is all there is. While my personal reaction was that of shock, horror, amazement and extreme annoyance, my friend didn’t see anything wrong with it. Just part of the interview process.

I agree with a lot of people, and commenters above, is that somewhere you’d want to work everyday?


Another Example of Poor Customer Service by Uhaul

Wow. Another example of extremely poor customer service by Uhaul. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?


*** UPDATE ***
#freepalmer to #palmerfreed

Thanks so much to all who have lent your voices, posts, tweets, and most of all, your care and concern to this effort. We have a solution! In fact, as you may have seen in tweets and facebook links earlier, we have been able to get on the road, and we have made it to Ft. Worth, found some wifi and wanted to send an update. We’d have done it earlier, but to be honest, we wanted to get moving.

There are many to thank, but I’ll start with Mr. Don Chandler, the Regional Shop Manager for U-Haul in Abilene, TX. Don and his team (for he is not working alone) came up with a great plan that should get us to Nashville sometime tomorrow, Sunday. He has said that he wanted to find a solution that would be the way he’d like to…

View original post 3,659 more words

I Want You To Help Me!

Many times these last couple of days, I’ve seen people scream out into the Twittersphere, begging for customer service, expecting to get their problems solved, when help is just a phone call away.

Twitter isn’t always going to help you.

Razor Wire

Sure, the best companies may recognize that twitter is a quick-response option to small customer service requests, though I usually only seen these type of responses: “Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX or Email customer service for quicker response.” Which is great, you’ve gotten a response, but you still have work to do. What would have happened if you would have done one of those things in the first place? Quicker Service.

What You See Is All There Is.

The other day, a friend sent me this string of twitter responses from a Portland Bar/Restaurant. The customer was unhappy they were not moved to a different table in the establishment and took to twitter to explain their beleaguered plight. What they didn’t do is look back through the establishment’s tweet-stream. I did, I went back 4 pages of tweets, which is Twitter time could be four minutes or four months. What I noticed was the establishment’s stream was a real live person, responding to complaints; some reasonable and some not and the responses were, at most, in the tone of “stop bothering me.” Which, we would all say is horrible customer service, but, it’s consistent. And, when you’re consistent, it is what it is. Looking back over the numerous pages of tweets, they never once tried to quiet the customer, they never tried to solve the issue, they just explained their reasons and moved on.

Just Because You Want Help On Twitter Doesn’t Mean You’re Going To Get It.

Empty hallway

In customer service land we want to meet the customer wherever they reside. In my experience; however, 140 characters is rarely enough to solve the problem. Which means you need three or four messages to convey one quick answer. That’s not efficient, nor timely. Twitter isn’t staffed 24-7 and if you expect it to be, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Twitter isn’t always the best way to get results, sometimes, it’s only a way to feel more frustrated.

So many articles tell companies they must be on twitter to provide service. Yet, the better way to provide customer service would be to empower the front-line staff with the abilities and tools necessary to make decisions which affect the customer.

The back-and-forth banter on Twitter means that someone may still miss your company’s response and think you’re not providing service. And sometimes, there’s no action which will please the customer, so you’ll end up in a reoccurring quagmire of apologies until the person tires out.

Standing Tall

In my experience, there are far more effective means of getting great customer service: Pick up the phone. Email the Customer Service Help Team. Contact someone in Management. Write a letter. Write a blog. Then, after you’ve exhausted all other options, then find their Twitter or Facebook streams, see if they respond there, if so, reach out, direct them to your previous efforts and then expect service. Otherwise, you might just be spinning your mouse wheel.

Service Failure, Three Ways

Wow. We’ve all had experiences with a utility that makes us cringe. None have made me cringe more than the cable company. It’s a service many of us can’t really live without, yet, there’s no competition in that space. So, we’re forced to endure the worst of the worst when it comes to Customer Service. I’m certain my experience isn’t unique, just multiplied.

I moved across town recently, during this move I switched my internet service from Comcast to Centurylink (whom I’ve blogged about before because of their fantastic customer service at every turn,) and downgraded to the most basic of cable service. I knew this would mean that I would lose my @comcast email addresses, which also served as my log in to pay my bill. Easy enough. At the direction of the service agent who helped me transition my service, I changed my log in information to reflect my new email address and log in so I could have access once my email addresses terminated. Easy. …Or so I thought.

Old computers
(Used under creative commons, thanks eurlief)

First Fail: Fast-Forward: Chatting For Service
I went to log in last week and found that I couldn’t sign it. It said: “No account found.” So I used the “lost password” link, as you’re supposed to, and found my email was not in the system. Hmmm.

So I used the “Chat with a customer service specialist” option. After verifying my existence, the customer service representative had me try to sign in, (I’ve done that.) Try the lost password link (I’ve done that.) and then try the register a new log in link (I hadn’t tried that.) When I attempted to register a new account I received an “Account already registered to ID: ” error. Once I relayed that error to the customer service representative, the agent typed: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to do with that error, you’re going to have to call customer service: 1-800-XFINITY” and then the chat window terminated. (Wait, wasn’t I just talking to Customer Service?)

Neon Telephone

Second Fail: Calling Customer Service: Picking The Phone
So, after fuming about being terminated from “Customer Service” Chat. I stepped back into my issue and called Customer Service. After navigating their phone tree… I finally got to a live body, who said their name so fast I couldn’t write it down (I usually take note of a customer service representative’s name so I can thank them later,) and I then launched into my issue. After confirming my identity and my account (name is Nicholas Church,) he continued to address me as “ma’am.” Nothing gets under my collar quicker as being called ma’am on the phone. After the 3rd time, I corrected him, his reply:

…”I’m Sorry Ma’am.”

“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!” I was fuming. I relayed my issue again, that I couldn’t pay my bill, and after another 3 “ma’am”s, I paid my bill, after confirming I wouldn’t be charged the fee for paying on the phone (I sincerely hate paying fees for paying bills, I think it’s the stupidest business decision) and hung up the phone while still fuming and took to Twitter, what seemed to be the last bastion of respectable customer service.

Tweet Me
(used under creative commons, thanks TPorter2006!)

Third Fail: Twitter – 140 Characters of Service
Now, in the last couple of years, Comcast has been known for their Twitter customer service (@Comcastcares) – If you had an issue, you could reach out to them and see second-tier resolution. Not exactly first-call, but your problem would be solved. So I reached out. Explained the issue, my steps to resolution, omitting my frustration with being called “ma’am” since it wasn’t relevant to the discussion. I went through all the testing steps they suggested, (Same ones as above) and then was told that an internet specialist would follow up with me later. I waited 4 days, spanning a weekend, with no response. On the fifth day, I followed up with the Twitter Service Rep who was handling my issue. He had no recollection of my previous issue, I had to remind him of the situation, and I was told, again, there would be an internet service representative calling. The next day, now a week later, I received a call from the internet support rep, re-explained my issue and after three separate calls, finally was able to log into my Comcast account.

Where I noticed I have a pending charge for paying on the phone. That will be another call, for another day.

If you’re looking for a great way to fail at customer service, the above experience is a textbook example of how to do it in three separate modes of communication.

Failing at customer service, Xfinity’s triple play.