Saturday, July 23, 2011

I need to call customer service and after being on hold for a half hour listening to a recording asking me to please hold, my business is important to them, I hear a heavy Indian accent from a guy who says he is Scott. I know and he knows his name is not Scott and as usual my problem is ultimately not solved. Does this happen to you? Why?
Thank you for holding. Admit it when you are on hold and they tell you the average wait is 45 minutes you just want to throw the phone away! When any customer calls a company, what we want is a response. A woman, Emily Yellin got so mad that she wrote a book about call center issues. Believe it , a girl whose name is Yellin wrote, ”Your Call Is (not that) Important to Us.”
In her research for the book, she has never interviewed a person that did not have problems with customer service calls. There is a TV show called “Outsourced” that sums up the stereotype source of phone help offered to Americans. As usual the problem lies with money. The cost to have a live American agent on the other side of your phone is about $7.50 per call. To outsource to a foreign country and have a live agent answer your call is about $2.35 per call. Hence, my Indian friend who for some reason changed his name from Persuad to Scott.
To use a voice response system, one of those press one for this press two for that etc. Is about 35 cents per call. So, now at least you know how much your company is spending on your comfort zone with the company. The companies save a lot of money while you are pressing numbers for different probable recorded answers. The only one not satisfied is you the customer!

There are still the customer service live people that have to clean up after all the irate customers have destroyed everything from their rage at still not getting their problems solved. None of this is new. Since the invention of the telephone, it has been a communication tool used for someone to complain about something. Men used to man the telephone services but they were rude and did not take complaints kindly. So, the female telephone operator got all the jobs because they were more tolerant. Yes, they were called ‘Hello Girls.”
In 1890 Mark Twain complained that his phone service was “the very worst on the face of the whole earth.” he also wrote ”And if you try to curse through the telephone, they shut you off.” As you can see, nothing much has changed in the past 100 years. Today, the feeling of helpless rage has become an American fact of life.
Michael Douglas in the film “Falling Down” could have been any of us. He gets so fed up when the customer service guy merely says he is sorry for you problem and doesn’t fix anything, he says he is sorry too and pulls a gun out and points it to the customer service guy. You’ll have to see the movie to find out what happens next. Yeah! Real frustrating when you don’t have answers.
There is a company called Customer Care Consulting that conducted four studies concerning the problem of poor customer service. 70% or more in each study said they experienced rage when they had a problem with customer service or rather the lack of satisfying service. Since 2003 together with Arizona State University, they have been publishing “The Customer Rage Study.” They ask people. “What did you get?” and 60% of people who complained about a problem with their product or service said they got “nothing” in response to their complaint.
Thanks to the internet, things may be changing. Yes, you can post a blog like this or start a website and inform people and unite against big companies who really do nothing for you but they make sure their billing department works like a dream. One such website is called “The Consumerist” Shoppers Bite Back. It lists the many airline faults and impersonal attitude towards customers while they loose your luggage, animals and stuff.
The goal of the website is to scoop up as many complaints they could find about any product or service and have the customers unite to try to get things done. Yes, there still is power in numbers. Not only money numbers but people numbers as well. If there is a human face to the problem, then hopefully the problem can be solved. Nobody wants an angry face in their face.
Two to three million people a month read the website and post problems with whoever. It was recently bought by the publisher of Consumer Reports. These days an irate customer can post their complaint and start a fire storm leading to the faulty company. “The Consumerist” is just one of many websites forcing corporate America to pay attention.
Fed Ex is one of the few companies that boast that they get 350,000 calls per day. They encourage calls, tweets and text messages and are proud to answer them all. The don’t necessarily tell you what the answer is!! They boast that a call is an opportunity to “turn a customer around.” Yeah! If I get turned around too much I just get dizzy!
Comcast commercials say, “We’re only as good as our word.” Well. Those bastards got me pressing numbers to get answers. No one real says any words!!!! I’ll just have a drink. That can satisfy and make you forget your rage at anything for a while. Not a solution just a sedative.

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