Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Paramount Takes "Customer Service" To A Whole New Level

A couple of customer service stories, the first two from my not-so-recent past:

1) Back when I was working in the book store, we invited the local police to give us a few tips on how best to discourage shop-lifters. Two officers came by to give us the lecture, which included advice we immediately put into effect. Midway through the lecture, however, one of the officers offered this somewhat less than helpful bromide: "You basically gotta assume that anyone walking through that door is a potential thief." Hoo, boy — talk about a paradigm shift! Prior to that, I'd assumed anyone walking through the door was a potential customer for life (silly me).

2) Waaaaay back when, prior to working in the typewriter store, I worked in a camera store. Our crew consisted of two young pups (including yours truly) being "managed" by an older fella who took lengthy breaks. We're talking about a management style that was casual to the point of laissez faire. Consequently, it wasn't uncommon for us to get a little surly, a little Basil Fawlty if you will, with the occasional customer. One episode stands out in my memory of my co-worker getting huffy with a customer who'd come to make an exchange. The customer took it for a bit, then said, "You know, I have my own business, and I am here to tell you that if I took your attitude to any one of my customers, I would not be in business much longer. Now if you and I are going to get anywhere, your attitude simply has to change." He gave my friend 30 seconds of silence to digest this, then they got off on a fresh start.

Okay, now that I've regaled you with a couple of encounters that left a lasting impression on my professional demeanor ... who feels like going to a movie?

Some story, huh? When it comes to movies, music, books, etc. I'm one of those people who makes it a point to pay as I go. I have enough friends in the performing arts / publishing world to realize it's not (usually) the artist who's getting rich off the scheme, so I try to shunt the funds to them in any way I can. Consequently, I've never done the file-sharing thing, I'll take the physical book over a PDF file, even computer programs are something I'll shell out for because I figure it could mean the difference between peanuts and beer, or just plain peanuts for the artist in question. (Tangential observation: artists, particularly musicians, are some of the scurviest pirates on the planet. A sense of entitlement seems to come easily to performers.)

But the entertainment industry isn't primarily populated by performers: it's chiefly, overwhelmingly populated by business people. Given the seachange in digital media, these folks are facing some very tough questions. But rather than taking an honest stab at good answers, they'd prefer to visualize each and every potential customer-for-life with intense suspicion. I ask you: with customer service like this, how long do you expect them to stay in business?

H/t to TLD for the story. It puts me in mind of this anti-piracy send-up ad.

1 comment:

trentreimer said...

I gotta back you up on this one Whisky. MPAA and RIAA are proof of what happens when rich white men who've had it unbelievably good start seeing their kingdoms getting chipped away. Not a lot of people in this world expect to get paid for life for a few months work. Apparently those who do are willing to step on a lot of people.

Just waiting for the day the **AA's get their government to start dropping bombs on somebody.

Also agree with your conclusion: vote with your wallet. If the dog keeps biting when you feed it, let it starve.