February 09, 2009

The Death of Customer Service

Just in case anyone was wondering great customer service is dead. It has migrated from being something that you expected to having become something that is a pleasant sort of surprise.

I have grown so accustomed to bad customer service that when it does happen I have to pinch myself. I expect that if I could see my face it would show me with some sort of dumbfounded look that would be more appropriate for having been kicked in the gut.

The funny thing is that whenever I have to deal with customer service I spend a few minutes psyching myself up for the experience. It kind of reminds me of the feeling I used to get right before a fist fight, except there is no pushing and shoving and no one on the playground egging us on.

The genesis of this post comes from having spent a chunk of time on the telephone trying to get some answers about a few bills. First I had to traverse the lonely and desolate voice jail systems. Automation is great....sometimes.

I love being given so many different options. Press 1 for billing, 2 for customer service, 3 to make a payment, 19 to be told that you are a dumbass for doing business with us etcetera. The best part of the system is that you are given 57 choices and none of them are to speak with a live person.

Side note. If it is a publicly traded company and I am unhappy with their response I almost always "Google" their corporate profile. There I can find a list of company executives and a telephone number to reach them. Sometimes it takes some doing, but even if I have to go through their IR or PR departments I find my way to the desk of some executive who doesn't want to speak to me.

Most of the time they will see that the appropriate flunky deals with me so that they don't have to speak with me everyday. If necessary I can be ruthless and relentless. Answer my call or the consequences will be swift and severe or prompt and persuasive.

Anyway, as I spoke with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum today I took great pains not to tear out giant clumps of hair. It was exceedingly hard because they were exceedingly stupid. I try not to call people stupid and it is not because the eight-year-old that lives here refers to it as the "s" word.

But sometimes it just fits. As I am speaking to the jackass in Solon I am wondering how hard it is to tell me what the balance is on my account. Apparently he thinks I am speaking about teeter-totters because he keeps mentioning something about tilting over or some sort of incomprehensible gibberish like that.

I ditched him for another native English speaker who can't speak English either. It is bizarre and incomprehensible. No accent, easy to understand the words, except they can't construct a simple sentence.

Midway through this experience I start laughing because I have lost my mind. I am laughing because I am thinking about them reciting "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" over and over again. And you know that if that was the only line in their script that is what they would say to you.

"Excuse me, can you tell me what my balance is?"
"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

It is such a dumb idea it is brilliant. I think that I am going to open my own call center just so that I can see this turn into a reality. That maniacal laughter you hear now, well that's me. I have slipped over the edge and am floating in the pool face down. Ok, can't be face down because then you wouldn't be able to understand me, but I think that you get the point.


Robyn said...

I sometimes think it's sad that when I get the occasional bit of good service I run and tell everyone or want to blog about how great that company is. Really, it shouldn't be such an amazing thing.
And it's amazing when you get an American on the phone and the are so poorly educated and have such a bad regional accent that you actually cannot understand them.

Jack said...

It is terrible. It should be the rule and not the exception.

Jay said...

The best part of the system is that you are given 57 choices and none of them are to speak with a live person.

- After a few calls to my cellphone company I decided to memorize the routine, so within 16 seconds I press 2,1,2,0 and then boom, I'm on the waiting list to speak to some human! And how great is that? Sometimes it takes more than 40 minutes to get through, and I actually waited. Pathetic.

So good luck with your future call center business.