Economics and Customer Service

Have you tried to get a mower, chain saw, garden tractor or similar outdoor lawn equipment fixed lately? If the piece of equipment is old enough, you’re told to dump it and purchase a replacement. If a part is broken, you will probably have to wait until the manufacturer decides to make new parts on their schedule, not yours. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated instance with one company. The entire industry seems to have decided to adopt this model for “cost” reasons.

One dealer has gone so far as to put the manufacturer’s rep on a speaker phone in the shop to allow the customer to hear that explanation directly. Obviously, the customer was upset, as well as the dealer. When this dissatisfaction was voiced to the manufacturer, the response was a verbal shrug of the shoulders accompanied by a tepid apology.

As noted in a previous posting, this is another example of cost being used as an excuse to make a customer less than satisfied. When this policy is adopted industry wide, the initial apparent cost savings can be justified because “everybody is doing it.” Customer satisfaction and loyalty is taking a back seat because there will be similar policies in place and the risk of losing an unhappy customer is lessened.

Does this sound familiar?

The airline industry has been on a similar path for years, gradually cutting amenities and making the flying experience more uncomfortable as time goes on. Because of security issues and horrendous costs for fuel, airline trips are now something to be endured rather than enjoyed.

Recently, the result of this cost cutting and mistreatment of passengers made the news when a fight between passengers on an international flight out of Washington, DC forced the pilot to turn the plane around, dump thousands of pounds of fuel and be escorted back to the airport by Air Force fighter planes. What caused the fight? It turns out that a passenger reclined his seat so far back the passenger behind him slapped him in the head, leading to the scuffle that forced the plane to turn around. Neither passenger was charged with a crime and the flight left again following a police investigation.

News accounts of the story revealed that this incident was but the latest of its type and was described as being the result of rising passenger dissatisfaction and anger. The industry was then mildly taken to task for its declining standards in the treatment of passengers, or as one wag noted, “One no longer sees the motto, ‘Fly the FRIENDLY skies.'”

Is this a model other industries REALLY want to follow?


Steve Oviatt is President of Battlefield Telecom Consulting LLC ( and also writes about Telecom Expense Management issues at


About battlefieldtelecom

I'm an experience trainer and customer service consultant who has worked extensively in the high tech, telecom and call center arenas around the world.
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1 Response to Economics and Customer Service

  1. Susan Jacobs says:

    It’s not what happen as much as how they reacted to the situation. Unlike my experience at Battlefield Ford when I had to take our Explore back to the shop for the 3rd time for the same thing. I wouldn’t have been so fuming bad when I left if the service manager had at least show a little empathy rather than attacking me because I didn’t know how many miles or age of the vehicle.

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