Tuesday, May 8, 2012


We are in a customer service crisis. It can be intimate or aloof. It can take a long time or end quickly. But these days, it's most often frustrating and dysfunctional.

If a poll was conducted in this country to identify the most hated segment of the American population, customer service representatives would share top space with the likes of telemarketers, pedophiles, lawyers, car sales persons and survey pollsters. Just the mere mention of customer service is enough to send most people into a frothy rage.

And that's kind of understandable. When a customer feels wronged by a business or corporation, the lowly customer service rep is who gets tasked with fixing the problem. He or she becomes the de facto voice of the entire corporation at that point, and it's a thankless position to be in.

If they fail to solve the problem in less than 30 seconds, people get irate. If they do successfully solve the problem in question, people are still pissed that they had to call in the first place.

On top of all that, the general public has developed some common misconceptions about calling customer service that only serve to make matters worse for everyone involved.

Customer service representatives exist solely to pass the buck and collect a paycheck, right? They're just minions of the evil corporation that they work for and want nothing more than to stand by in awe as The Man ruins your life.

Wrong. In fact, there's a great chance that the customer service rep you're speaking to hates that fucking company as much as you do. Customer service is a shitty job, and a big reason for that is because at most companies, customer service is treated by management of being maybe one ladder rung higher than the janitorial service who comes through and cleans the bathrooms after everyone leaves for the night.

So, chances are, when you've been legitimately wronged and call to state your case, customer service is on your side. You think you hate it when your insurance or cable company raises your rates? Imagine how the people who have to take the resulting deluge of angry phone calls feel about it. Trust me, those increases aren't going toward giving them big raises and fat bonus checks.

Call center
Another thing that seriously bothers me, why is it that every time you call a customer service call center for any product or service you are immediately solicited with "will you participate in a brief questionnaire about, how we did"?

I mean seriously do you really think anyone in Corporate America pays attention or cares what you think about their usually shitty customer service. After all, these very same Corporations have outsourced their customer service departments to mostly foreign countries, where customer service agents are paid next to nothing in wages and can barely speak understandable English words.

Then they hide the customer service human being telephone number as if it's a national security secret. If you are lucky to navigate your way through all the automated dumb questions/options that go round and round in an endless kaleidoscopic loop.

Whenever I am trapped in an endless loop of automated hell, I begin to shout things like "Human! Person! Fuck You!" at the robotic recorded voice. It makes me feel better for a moment or two.

Most customer call centers have the pre-requisite requirements that their agents must mumble, mumble, speak garbled English at best, talk too low, and of course know nothing about how to answer you questions if it isn't in the prepared "script" they have in front of them.

Now don't get me wrong. As I previously said, the customer service front-line agents are nothing but the pawns of the company they represent, they are the expendable and easily replaceable.

Some of my best friends and family have worked as customer service Agents, it can be a tough job. Anyone who deals with the Public has a tough time based on the amount of morons who are calling to find out why their coffee cup doesn't fit into the DVD tray on their computer, or that they can't even spell their own names correctly. So this works both ways, neither side, whether the consumer or the customer service has much of a chance to succeed at successfully helping to easily find answers, or fix problems.

I especially "enjoy" the customer service departments who keep you waiting on a phone que for 30 minutes or more of phone hell, with an automated recording repeatedly telling you how important your business is to them, and they will be with you "shortly". Often when your call is finally answered by a human being, you get the "click of silence" which is total silence, as you have been disconnected after waiting all that time.

Corporations should be honest and what they truly want to say to you is, "I mean, I’m sure you get on the nerves of friends and family members. And we are no exception Sometimes you get on our nerves, too, and we don’t want to waste time talking to you. Especially when you call us with dumb questions. That drives us crazy and hurts the bottom line. To deal more efficiently with this problem and please our shareholders, we have introduced an automated attrition loop that leads to nowhere. It creates the illusion we care about you and are trying to help but really it’s like an extremely complicated rebate form that we have no intention of ever paying. In short ,we just don’t want to talk to you and your whatever it is you are calling about. We hope you understand and respect our boundaries. Thank You , have a good day, please continue to hold and we will be with you shortly."

In the old days customers could say things like,  "I don't take shit from anyone, please fix my problem" and be respected by the human being on the other end of the phone.

Today, we have to use automated phone loops that often lead to nowhere instead of to a live person.

                        PHONE HELL

If you actually don't get a hang up from customer service, they will start by telling how you are a valued customer, but only up to a point when they tell you that they don't have computer access, the capability to do anything to fix the tiny problem you are calling about, or "the computer won't let them put in the information.

Why call it customer service when they cannot provide any type of service?  It should be renamed to Customer Dis-Service. Want to fix the mistake in your address, ask a question about your bill, sorry, they don't have computer access to fix that.

A typical Customer (Dis)Service call center in New Delhi, India, reveals a group of employees who not only disguise their location and change their name to appear more “Western’, but are not given the tools to fully service their customers and everyone asks to “speak to a manager”.

Often the "Manager" you are then switched to is simply a different regular call service agent who is not a supervisor, but is simply sitting next to the representative you just spoke to a minute ago.

 call centre


Then they have the balls to always ask you: Is there I usually tell them, you didn't do a thing to help me with the problem I called about, so why are you asking me if there is anything else you can do to help me. Stop asking me meaningless words about assisting me when they can't do "jack shit" about anything. 

Of course, there is no way I am going to waste any more time at the end of the long frustrating call with them to answer a satisfaction survey, screw them.

I guess because few are bothering to answer these annoyance infringements on our time, the Company's should change tactics by sending e-mails and postal mail letters with a newer, better, solicitation for our survey opinions of, "how we did?"

I have a sample below of what this "How did we do"  letter which should say:

"Dear Jerry:
         Thank you for contacting [name of Agent in Service and Support Department). Our records indicate that [let's just call him John Smith] was the primary representative who assisted you. Because providing excellent customer service is our prime objective, we would greatly appreciate it if you took a few moments to rate your experience with [name of agent-ie-John Smith].

Please click on the link shown below to complete the short list of questions. It's that easy, and, with only a few moments of your time, you'll be helping us provide the absolute best service possible. Please also note that John has a wife and two small children. Your refusal to participate in this survey will be interpreted as a failure of John to do his job and will result in his immediate dismissal from employment. His accounts will be frozen and his children removed from their home, becoming wards of the state. In addition, his wife Marie will be shipped to a Chinese shoe factory and John will be forced to move back in with his elderly parents, one of whom, your choice, will be shot.Thank you for your time and assistance in this matter."

Maybe that will evoke a response from you the customer, to save poor John Smith, because Corporate America is not fooling around. They NEED to know how they are doing in helping you because they actually don't give a shit, makes sense right? It's all about fake caring and bull shit Corporate friendly images of being there to help you.

Just like Banks are our best friends who care deeply about us. Did you ever wonder why financial institutions even waste millions of dollars in advertising trying to portray their business as being on our side, soft and fuzzy. Sure, Banks are not evil, they are actually here to help us and need to always know IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN HELP YOU WITH TODAY?