Customer Detention Centers

I have been a customer for many years now. I’ve been to dentists, doctors, auto repair places, and other fine establishments where I might have to wait in the “customer detention center” for maybe a few minutes to several hours.

This is my rant. Too many companies overlook this very important aspect of their buyers’ “experience.” Of course, I am at these place to receive some sort of service, and that may or may not be acceptable, but while that service is being rendered, I am forced to endure deplorable conditions as an inmate in the customer detention center.

Let’s consider the modern “buyer.” We go into these places to have our services rendered. We understand we have to wait there on site. That’s cool. So, what do the companies do to provide a comfortable “experience”? Well, some do that. Many do not.

Let’s look at Monro Muffler. I have had service done at a Monro location in southern New York a few times. The service has been mostly good (except when they left my hood unlatched, which almost caused my death), but their customer detention center consisted of 3 dirty chairs assembled next to the door that kept blowing open. I suggested to the guy that they put in a table. It would be good to have a work space, because, while I am there, I could do my work, which is mostly on a laptop.

Speaking of Monro, I had an oil change in Utica, New York. I scheduled online but they never “downloaded” that so I had to endure 20 minutes of clickety-clack while they asked me for mileage, license plate numbers, etc. I did get my oil change, but had to endure 45 minutes sitting in their customer detention center that smelled like farts and piss, hoping I wouldn’t get knifed by the old guy muttering to himself next me.

Now, let’s examine the doctor’s office. This was several years ago, in Jensen Beach, Florida. I brought my kids to their doctor visit and we sat in their customer detention center for about an hour with more people than chairs. There was a giant TV in the room, that was turned up “to 11.” Not only was it loud, but it was playing some daytime show where they were discussing the merits of incest! I’m no prude, but I told the receptionist that I thought it was a bit inappropriate for their audience and way too loud. The response? “I have no control over that TV, that’s what I’m told to do.”

Not to just rant, I’ll review two locations where the customer detention center was “acceptable.”

Barstow Motors in Potsdam, New York. I bought a car there and I’ve had service there many times. Very pleasant, clean, and the CDC had workstations with outlets in a separate area, with no TV. Perfect for being able to work while getting service. In fact, I’ve stayed past my time there just to finish stuff up because it was so pleasant.

Northern Neck Chevrolet in Montross, Virginia. Similar situation. Pleasant people, informative, no blaring TV, ample work space, no smells of farts!

If you own a company that has a waiting room for your valued customers, then I implore you to review those accommodations from the customer viewpoint and fix them!

You’re welcome.

Director of Communications and Marketing at Corning Community College in Corning, New York. Writer/correspondent for Opensource.com. Google and Adobe certified.