Customer Service is Dead

When I was young the customer was always right, period. Customer Service reps, either on the phone or in person (I was young before the internet), bent over backwards for your satisfaction. Fast forward some 40 years and while there are still many excellent customer service reps who give superb service with courtesy and care for a happy resolution to your customer needs, there is also an eroding of common courtesy. Specifically, my recent experiences with companies that supply my diabetes devices have come up very short on common courtesy.

It seems to me that the customer service reps have a check list of questions and once they check off that list they are done with their “customer service”. I recently called Accu-Chek because my insurance company has dictated that I must use an Accu-Chek meter to be covered. That is a whole other subject but when I received the meter, I went to the Accu-Chek website for some generic information about my new meter. When I got to the website the only thing that was there was a link to receive a “Free Meter” (My meter was not free so this was a little annoying). The links to anything else except the free meter were all the way down at the bottom of the page in the smallest of blue link type. The “Chat Live Now” link at the top of the “Contact” page was out of service the several times I tried to access it. The website is not user friendly, but I digress.

The first several times I did a blood test with my new Nano meter the discrepancy between the meter and my Dexcom G5 Continuous Glucose Monitor was large, nearly 100 points difference on more than a couple of occasions. I posted about this on my twitter account, @DiabetesProject – and received a response from another user, not from Accu-Chek or Dexcom. This twitter follower noted that the meter should have been calibrated when I picked it up at the pharmacy. I went to my pharmacy to ask how to do this and was informed that I needed control solution which they would be happy to order for me at $11.61. Right then I remembered that my One Touch meter included control solution when I first received it. I also thought that Accu-Chek had totally dropped the ball by not including control solution in a new meter package. I had my pharmacist order the control solution and went back to pick it up the following day.

My pharmacist ordered the control solution for The Guide and I have a Nano. Since I am brand new to Accu-Chek meters (the last one I had was in 1983 right after I was diagnosed) I was not familiar with their different meters. I now had the wrong control solution and I have had the meter for nearly 2 weeks and the accuracy in comparison to my cgm is still in question so I called an Accu-Chek “Customer Service” representative.

First, I was on hold for over a half an hour. When I finally got a customer service agent on the line she was very nice but all she did was gather all of my personal information. Name, address, email, date of birth, doctor name, address and phone number. To me, that’s not customer service, that’s data collection. She then told me that she would have to get a “Product Specialist” to address my need for control solution.

I was on hold for another 30 minutes. My first rep came back twice to apologize for the long wait. She was trying to get an agent on the line. I have now been on the phone for over an hour and all that I’ve done is give Accu-Chek all my information. I was not happy.

Finally a “Product Specialist” came on the line and said that she would get me the control solution I needed but not before she asked me several questions and actually sounded annoyed in her demeanor. She asked me if I had the original box with me and implied that perhaps I had missed seeing the solution because it should have been in the box. Since I was at work, I did not have the box with me. The “Product Specialist” asked me 3 more condescending times if I was sure the solution was not in the box. Since I did not have the box it was probably in there. It was not. I had checked that box several times as I too assumed that the solution should have been included with the original purchase, a purchase that appears to be free for some but not me. The repeated assumption on the “Product Specialist’s” part that I must have been mistaken about not seeing the control solution further irritated me, the customer, but I maintained my courtesy as I had been taught. A lesson that was not taught to my “Product Specialist”.

The “Product Specialist” now assured me that she would send out a control solution BUT, the meter does not need to be calibrated. She told me the control solution will not change the meter’s readings but will just make sure it is accurate within the range of the control solution. While I know this because I have been living with diabetes for 36 years and have gone through several meters with control solutions and the need to know that my meters were accurate, I was treated like a child who must have been doing something wrong to cause this anomaly.

Now, the most insensitive and ignorant part of the conversation, the check list. First, I was asked, “Did you wash your hands before your blood test?” Really? Again, I have done close to a million finger-stick blood tests I am sure. Sometimes I do 2 in a row if the number seems off. While I do not expect the product specialist to know about my vast experience dealing with blood tests and diabetes, I do expect her to be kind and courteous during her interrogation. The snarky, “did you wash your hands?” question could have been easily stated as a, “of course, you washed your hands?” Or, “I know this sounds silly but I have to ask because it’s on my check list, did you wash your hands?” When I impatiently answered in the affirmative, she immediately asked, “and did you use an alcohol swab on your finger after you washed your hands?” Well, you can check that off your little list but no, and I never do and it has never ever even once made a lick of difference. I did not dip my finger in honey or maple syrup after I washed my hands. I did, however, answer in the affirmative because I know that would give Accu-Chek an out from my issue by calling it “operator error” and dismissing my legitimate issue. The next questions were all lot number, expiration date and the like. While I understand that as it pertained to my issue I go back to the attitude and demeanor of the “Product Specialist”. Almost accusatory. Assuming I had done something wrong that is causing this discrepancy. Clearly, it was my fault and she made no bones about making that assumption and communicating it to me through her attitude.

So this is “Customer Service” in 2019. Protect the company at all costs. Try to shift the blame to the customer so that the company is in no way, shape or form liable for any negative product issues. Never give an inch. Perhaps the proper company response would have been to ship me out a new meter since they offer them for free and I had to pay for mine. That would have eased all this accusatory rhetoric that I had to endure on a phone call that should have taken 5 minutes but took well over an hour.

In conclusion I think that companies whose customer service is dealing with people with diabetes should show some compassion and understanding toward their customers. I have singled out Accu-Chek here but the same goes for Dexcom (another story!). Does your “Product Specialist” have any clue what it is to live with diabetes? The answer for this particular person is obviously, no. I firmly believe the customer service reps at diabetes companies should be given a comprehensive program on what is like to live with diabetes. Clearly the ones I have dealt with haven’t a clue. I think doing this would give a little more sensitivity and a little more kindness when dealing with people who can be overwhelmed by the needs of their day-to-day healthcare.

We do multiple finger-stick blood tests every day. We count every morsel of food that passes through our lips. We often inject multiple times a day or insert ports and sensors into our bodies to help maintain control over our blood sugar. We are busy people, as are customer service personnel with one big difference, add to the level of busy an additional 24/7/365 responsibility that could lead to your death if you don’t properly manage it. Have some empathy. I’m being forced to use your product. Be nice.


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