Customer satisfaction #331

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I can still write here if I turn the volume up and use a large fan.


If you shop and someone makes you an offer that’s where it starts.

The movie and the book are fantastic.  Have you ever seen the TV show The Paper Chase?  One of the nuggets is contract law.

An offer is made, it is accepted, and money changes hands.  That is where it starts.  But customer satisfaction goes so, so much farther.


“The epitome of customer service and satisfaction.”


How do you win at customer satisfaction?  You always win.  You always win because you are always free to leave.  It is like the stock market or a lot of things, if it is too stressful or risky, get out.

Maybe there are no great alternatives.  Maybe or even probably you are not thrilled.  If that’s the case you can still be satisfied.  Just forget it and accept it for what it is.

It is not about proving you are right, it is about making choices you are satisfied with.

And now, virtually everywhere, there are more choices and it is easier than ever.  You can go with the big guys or find niche offerings if you want.  You can quickly collect information.  And it works to make everyone better and in all directions.  It is really easy to complain.

The top companies are the ones who excel in this environment.  By now it is all in place and it is there to use if customers choose to.


T. Rowe Price.

It does remind me of ancient marketing 101 and market share.  I think the top three are Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab.  T. Rowe Price could have done it but they either chose not to or failed, and it is almost certainly the latter.  I was stunned to find they still conform to long, long ago “correspondence teams” for communication with customers.  For employees, they don’t let you use email or phones.  For customers, you are receiving email from someone you have never even spoken with or communicated with.  It is hearsay.  It is terribly unproductive and generally a pain in the ass for all involved.

You know how they say it is always wise to review your insurance policies every few years?  It is time to take the money and run.

In a broader sense, you can tell when they lie, hide, and cover up.  That is always a big clue.  Poke ’em a few times and see how they respond.  Are they state of the art or a fraud?

If you look closely you can see Bernie Madoff.  The SEC doesn’t prohibit email communication, customer service, and solutions.  Nor does it have to be behind a firewall on a website filled with your promotions.  About that…  you should make customers want to go there, if only your crummy Android app worked; BTW, you can’t log in on my Android browser either.

The reason they don’t do it is because their customer service representatives are too unskilled and enabled to handle it.  If they start putting things in writing they’re going to get caught.  A lot.  When you start arguing with customers about arbitrary and incorrect account naming, and how it affects arbitrary and inconsequential account handling which results in very real customer transactions–and then refuse to fix it–you are sleazy.  You are preventing customers from freely moving their money and you are just like Bernie Madoff.;  In years past I would have sent it but that would just be an unnecessary clue and that’s another reason why this business is so fascinating and why this one company is so dumb.  Also, for a number of reasons, I think it would just be pointless.  You can see it everywhere.  It is not a customer focused company.  It is the same company that not too long ago used to require faxes.  The ceo is a finance guy.

They don’t even provide email service or support.  They don’t have weekend or evening customer service hours.

Why build and operate a huge customer care center in Colorado Springs if you are not going to use it evenings and weekends?








pcp:  so what about this withholding of bond yields?




pcp:  but you didn’t correct it until I complained, did you?  and you still won’t explain.


Only 10% smartphone only.  That seems really low.

How hard is it to call T. Rowe Price?  Really hard.  It is hard with a lot of old/antiquated companies to call from a wireless device, get asked a lot of questions, and be put on hold.  For an investment company and their complicated, self-made mistakes it is doubly hard.  You literally have to be using a computer with a big screen, talking on a reliable or hands-free phone, writing things down, and arguing at the same time.  The arguing, or convincing, is probably because you are speaking with someone who doesn’t know what they are doing with a connection far worse than your own.  You have to call and convince them you have a problem.  You have to be prepared and articulate.  You have to be willing to a simple inform and correct message turn into a 20 minute, stress-producing ordeal.

Who wants to do that?  You’d have to be sitting in an office all day.

Blame Walmart.  Accuse websites like eBay where you can make an (arguably) guaranteed purchase in three clicks.  People would rather get in, get out, and do it themselves.

Or maybe you occupy a rare-today niche where really do provide service and customers are willing to pay for it.  That seems less common because you better know your customers really well and be very good at the value-added part.  And it is hard to do on a very wide scale and in an accounting-driven business or company.  It is really hard to do with machine heads.

Most people today would rather do it anonymously if possible, and good companies have obliged by making things simple and do it right the first time.  The whole infrastructure supports that vision.

And here’s the slightly complicated part.  People don’t expect service.  Or, put another way, if you expect me to do all these things myself…  I love it when it is random.  Call customer care out of the blue and see if they win you over.  Maybe it is the first or only time in 5 years.  If a customer has a problem, especially if it is your mistake, doing or haplessness, that may be your last or only chance.

For a company like T. Rowe Price, I have personally saved them quite a bit by converting to mostly paperless, as have others.  My portfolio has gone up and consequently so have my fees.  Now they want to provide less service?

That’s a real bind, a real class A, number one dilemma.



Update!!!  This is better.


It is all about perspective.  Another hypothetical:

pcp:  so you’re closing all these funds.  most of my money is in closed funds.




trp:  that’s right.  if we change any custodial information you would have to close the fund and couldn’t reopen it.  or if you wanted to invest outside of your ira you couldn’t do that either.

pcp:  i don’t get it.  i am still the same person.  how much money do you think i have?


It is all about perspective.


Maybe I can’t write.  But I can make notes.  Write a page a day and eventually you have a book.

  1. stealing from my account
  2. promoting and promising lifetime preferred services and reneging
  3. incorrect and arbitrary classification of personal accounts failure to correct it resulting in restricted access to funds
  4. threatening communications?  Communications designed to obscure, hide, lie, and cover-up.