Who's that Girl?


Customer Service- When to Fire the Provider

Originally posted: July 3, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

This is not going to be a rant.  It will be an observation.

In the last three days, I’ve either had conversations with friends about poor customer service experiences lately or read about them online.  Interestingly, none of these have been heated, negative exchanges.  For example, a colleague calmly relayed two negative customer service situations, one with a national rental car agency, the other with Coach.  Interestingly enough, Coach does appear to be the handbag of choice for female human resource professionals according to Laurie Ruettimann of Punk Rock HR.  I did an informal scan of the HR ladies I know and Laurie was right.  Myself included.  The other poor customer service experience I heard about this week came from China Gorman, former SHRM COO, on a guest post she wrote for Kris Dunn, The HR Capitalist.  Again, not a fiery rant, but an observation of some extremely poor customer service she witnessed on a recent flight.  Be sure to check out China’s post.  Another example came from the HR Maven as she discussed some extremely poor service from her doctor’s office staff.  And just this morning, Mike VanDervort at The Human Racehorses blog shares his poor experience with Delta airlines.


All of this has me thinking.  What does it take to decide to fire your provider, store, stylist/ barber, restaurant, or health care professional? How much has to go wrong or how many times do you have to experience service below your expectations before you stop going back?  I know the threshold is different for every one of us.  And, being that I am typically a glass-half-full kind of gal, I tend to give companies second or third chances.  For example, I have been a T-Mobile customer for at least nine or ten years.  Long story short, I have stuck with them through phones that stopped working, billing errors, and their complete failure on helping me with my trip to London earlier this year.  That little jaunt alone cost me approximately $1,000.  I’m still with them.


  • The customer remains hopeful that things will improve or that the situation is a one-time thing
  • It’s a hassle to change
  • We continue to shop at certain stores because they are close to home, even when they do not provide good service
  • The alternatives are sometimes no better

Well, I have decided to fire T-mobile.  The number of times my service just drops calls mid-discussion seems to be increasing, the prices keep going up, and the wait time to get to a live person when I call is just too much.  My phone also cuts in and out during calls and it’s a new 3G My Touch, so it should not be doing that.

In human resources, we support our managers and leaders when they decide to terminate employees who have performance that is just too horrible to ignore.  I say let’s take a little of our own advice and terminate the relationships of those companies who consistently disappoint and do not do their jobs.  And hey, T-mobile, YOU’RE FIRED!  Have a company you’re willing to fire?  Share it in the comments.

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