Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Service? What Service?

It's time to vent once again about the complete lack of customer service out there. I have had to consider whether I've become too demanding. I don't think so, but it reveals my personal intolerance of stupidity.

It's bad when any situation requires us to seek help by picking up the phone. The result usually involves some automated phone line that leads into a queue of options. Today's dilemma required use of the phone after the appropriate website failed to contain pertinent information. The phone queues seldom have an option to address my particular situation. Trying to find someone to help is not easy.

If I were running a company that required employing actual people to assist via phone and could hire fewer people by using queues, I would be overjoyed. Cost aside, having a computer voice run a queue is insulting to the caller, at the very least. Why would I want to hold and then "talk" to a non-person?

Today's matter was finally resolved, but I had to hang up and then call back. This time I got a computer voice which was friendly, as computers go. I input the necessary numbers and codes to conduct the transaction and the computer voice thanked me. Imagine that. It was friendly and polite!

No offense to anyone, but why would a company employ someone who does not speak the language? Certainly call centers employ a number of non-English speaking folks to help the callers who do not speak English. But having a casual concept of a language which is not our own can lead to problems. That would be like me taking a job answering phones in Germany or Sweden, where I know only two or three words in either language. Having a working vocabulary is not something that a call taker can fake.

Recently I had a question about whether my insurance would cover a certain prescription. The medication was not mentioned online and I resorted to getting an answer from a "representative" via phone. She could hardly pronounce any words properly in English, struggling through "Hello" and "May I help you." So when she was required to repeat the name of the medicine, it was a disaster. I asked her a couple of questions and there was silence on the other end of the phone. She finally responded and I had to say, "I'm sorry. I cannot understand you." She became a bit nasty and said she was only doing the best that she could. This is not exactly my idea of customer service.

A friend of mine was recently lamenting how she and her husband had taken all of their business from one local business to another. I know both businesses well and asked why they had made the change. She replied that when she and/or her husband go into the store, they are ignored and often have to endure a long wait. That has not been my experience in the same businesses, but my friend said it was too rude and they now go out of their way to stand in line at another business.

I know this woman well and she is not one to jump to conclusions or make hasty decisions. So her situation must truly have been unpleasant to require such action. Perhaps if she had a place to vent her frustration it might have convinced her to keep her business at the first store.

I am not timid to vent about things when warranted. However, I am not one to take out my frustration on a clerk or checker who has nothing whatsoever to do with the situation. These folks must hear a constant tirade about one thing or another that upsets shoppers. But they are pinned behind the counter and are unable to see to resolving the situations. Why would people rant at the poor clerk who has nothing to do with the problem?

Many years ago, I remember shopping in the fine apparel section of a very upscale department store. A man and woman ahead of me had asked to speak to the supervisor. When the young woman arrived, she smiled and offered, "What may I do help?" The couple unleashed a barrage of words at the woman. She remained calm and wore a look of sincerity. When it was over, she said quietly, "I understand. I'm afraid there is nothing I can do about it, but I appreciate your feelings." The matter apparently involved a dress which they wanted in a size which was not available. The couple turned in disgust and stormed out of the store. I walked over to the supervisor and said, "I just have to commend you on taking all that yelling without ruffling one bit. It was very hard to listen to and I felt bad for you." The girl shrugged. "That's why I do," she said. "You get used to it."

I always remembered that. The couple in the department store was wrong to be so vindictive about a rather petty issue. To make a scene over such a small matter seemed a bit silly then and still does today.

Such is the decline of customer service. At the least people in the department store scenario were standing face to face. At least they were all speaking or attempting to speak the same language. And at least they were all human beings.








No comments:

Post a Comment