Your Call Is Important To Us…

There was a great book out not to long ago entitled “Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit” by Laura Penny, which I had time to read the other day while holding on a tech service line to discuss why my graphics card and Microsoft XP don’t like each other.  I also had time to reflect on the walls that many of the technology companies have erected between themselves and their customers.

I remember back in the 90’s when the company I was working for installed a phonemail system.  The IT department and the customer service area went overboard hailing this as a wonderful advancement in our goal to create total quality.  My fellow cynics and I immediately grasped the bigger implication – we never have to answer the phone again.  Better still, we don’t need to be bothered in getting back to anyone who does leave a message.  Now, we can really get some work done, secure in the knowledge that we will not be bothered by pesky customers.

Of course there was much wailing and grinding of teeth and when we actually did have to talk to our customers in person they were not as enthusiastic as we were about the “new phone system”.

Phase Two of the new phone system came when we finally packed off our company operator – who had interrupted our naps by insisting that we take our calls for the past twenty two years – and replaced her with a new voice mail system that allowed our customers to use their touch tone phones to navigate our company directory and find their way into total oblivion without any human assistance.  But, heck when confronted directly, we could just blame it on a “glitch” or a “bug” in the system.

So, I guess it’s karma when I am stuck listening to an elevator version of Monday, Monday play over and over again, interrupted occassionaly by a recorded voice urging me to hang on for the next automated operator.  Then, when I finally did get through I was almost immediately cut off and had to go through the entire process again.

Today, we have progressed beyond the touch tone phone and now have voice response systems that artificially sound like they care – with just the right tone of manufactured concern in their voice.  Remember, you are still talking to a machine – it doesn’t care.  It has all the emphathy of The Terminator.

Finally, I got so frustrated that I demanded to speak to someone “human”. Now, it sounded a little more concerned and also slightly hurt as it asked me a series of questions to help the human operator who would eventually speak to me. However, I think that this is a deliberate stalling technique so that when I finally get to speak to someone human I will be so angry I will be incomprehensible and they will assume I am speaking French or Latvian and transfer me to a foreign speaking customer service rep.

Today, I have gotten a little smarter.  Before I purchase a big ticket item – a flat screen TV or computer component – I attempt to speak to someone in their customer service department.  If the call takes any longer than 1 minute I go to the next choice on my list until I am satisfied that they can provide great customer service.

Life is just too short for bad customer service.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.