There's a story over at the Local today....detailing a survey that basically says that Germans think (a German never thinks....he's absolute in his nature usually)....that customer service across the German countryside ...is going down drastically.
For an American, we are typically used to bad customer service. We do realize when we've been dealt with in a professional manner and it was a good experience. We remember that company, and go back to them again. Bad companies....we tend to avoid and never buy again from them.
For a German, customer service can be fifty percent of the deal. A German would be willing to pay 400 Euro ($500) for a really good coffee maker....if they knew the customer service branch works and if a warranty issue comes up....they know they will be handled correctly. When the product arrives at the front door....they immediately take the receipt and the warranty paperwork. There's a binder somewhere in that house and everything is maintained carefully.
In thirty-four months....if the item does break and there's still two months of warranty left....you can beat that customer service will be engaged. You as a German business have to have your customer relations team working right.....or you lose customers permanently. No German typically returns to a lousy business operation.
In all the years that I dealt with most German businesses....I'd give most a thumbs up. German government offices? That would be a totally different deal. The government offices don't care if you feel hostile or angry over their services. They know that you have no choice....but to return. I'd say roughly half of my visits to a German government office left a negative opinion about the situation.
I sat and watched a license office strike down a application from a Swiss guy who had moved into the district....for the second time....because the picture was not correctly taken. This was in this period when you had to hire a professional photographer to take license pictures. The guy had wasted two trips and spent at least thirty Euro on two separate shootings, and still couldn't get acceptance. The office handled the situation in a lousy way....they even had to call the cops because the guy just wouldn't leave.
The general thing I take home about German customer relations is that they tend to go by the book. If the situation is X, the book says you take only this action, and the German customer relations guy goes exactly by the book. It's hard to write a decent book of rules to cover every type of situation....so thing happen which aggravate people greatly.
The most negative experience I've seen? It's probably these episodes where someone calls and is put on a minute-by-minute charge, and they don't come back to you for ten minutes. You suddenly realize that even with 79-Euro cents....you've raced up 7.90 Euro and still not gotten a guy to respond to your question. For a German, that 7.90 Euro wasted on empty space, and it just makes them start wondering how they could have spent the money....like chocolate or a slice of cheese cake. So breeds hostility.