Opinion: Covid-19 not a good enough excuse for customer service failings

Businesses cannot be allowed to use the pandemic to cover for all of their failings.

It’s been a challenging few months for the nation’s businesses.

The small matter of a global pandemic has forced firms of all sizes to adapt the way they operate, to ensure that staff can work from home and that they can continue to meet the needs of customers who are similarly homebound.

But has Covid-19 become a bit of a convenient catch-all excuse businesses can use to justify their failings, whether they are related to the pandemic or not?

Have you tried looking online?

Here at loveMONEY we’ve been contacted by readers who have been on the receiving end of all sorts of dreadful customer service of late.

There’s the reader who received a damaged bed from a certain Swedish retailer, but who has been told that there will be no refund until it can be collected, which won’t happen for another month.

There’s also been the countless readers who have tried to contact banks, retailers and communication providers, from Barclays to John Lewis to Sky, only to find that their call centres are still not operating properly. 

In some cases this means humongous wait times just to speak to a staff member, while in others this isn’t even a possibility, with the call centre only dealing with vulnerable customers.

If you don’t happen to fall within that category you are simply pointed towards online help services and forums, irrespective of what your issue may be. 

Moving with the times

Now, it’s absolutely true that Covid-19 caught the nation on the hop, and I don’t just mean the Government.

All sorts of industries and employers were, virtually overnight, forced to change their way of operating. And understandably there were some teething issues there.

But let’s be clear, lockdown formally started back in March.

That’s six months ago. Having a few issues with customer service and communicating with your customers was somewhat excusable, and perhaps inevitable, when we were in the eye of the Covid storm. 

And while the storm has certainly not passed, it’s not really good enough to continue to blame the pandemic for customer service failings.

It’s also far too convenient an excuse, to point to a global pandemic as a catch-all explainer for failings large and small. 

We have long memories

Customers will remember companies that mistreated them (Image: Shutterstock)

This has been a learning curve, for shoppers as much as businesses.

We have seen first hand the businesses that were nimble enough to react to the Covid challenges, and who have treated their customers properly and with respect.

We’ve also seen the businesses that have panicked, that have seen the pandemic as the perfect cover for anything that goes wrong and who are attempting to bluff their way through.

It’s up to us as customers to remember those firms who have excelled and continue to back them if and when things return to something approaching normal.

Businesses need to understand that we won’t stand for it if they try to fob us off with excuses and fail to deliver adequate levels of customer service.

What do you think? Are companies hiding behind the pandemic or is the drop in customer service understandable given the realities they face? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

 

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