Friday, January 18, 2008

Customer Service…no thanks!


I work in a customer service contact center, so customer service is pushed frequently here. Things like scripted openings and closings are not uncommon. Having a pleasant tone, almost cheesy tone is something that is taught. Buh-bye, I hope you had a very satisfied experience (what is very satisfied anyways, I don’t know the difference, that is like 110%, it doesn’t exist, you cannot go beyond excellent or 100%!), thank you for calling this is said at the end of every conversation, even one’s where a customer may be mad), I’m sorry to hear that, is everyone okay, etc. These are all terms we are taught to use in our conversation with external customers. Although telling someone you are sorry to here about something or asking if anyone is hurt is okay, being taught to say these things in every conversation becomes more mechanical than human. Like automated services, the automations began as helpful but now annoy more than help.

A brief example of this customer service that drives me mad and drives any company into the corner of mechanical professionals rather than warm blooded human beings trying to help for your entertainment: I call my cell phone provider (their name will remain anonymous because I’m not into dragging people under the bus) to pay a bill. So a gentleman answers the phone and asks for my cell phone number and some verification info and the conversation continues as follows:

Customer Service Rep: Hello Mr Anthony Sloope, do you mind if I call you Mr Anthony, by your first name?
Me: No, please do.
Customer Service Rep: Thank you Mr Anthony, how can I help provide you with excellent customer service today?
Me: I need to pay my bill.
Customer Service Rep: Ok I understand you need to pay your bill is this correct?
Me: Yes.
Customer Service Rep: Thank you, I understand you need to pay your bill, I will now transfer you to our billing department to help you with this, is this okay Mr Anthony?
Me: Yes.
Customer Service Rep: Ok Mr Anthony, I have Susie on the phone in our billing department and I have told her you need to pay your bill is this correct.
Me: Yes, thanks.
Customer Service Rep: Hello, Mr Anthony Sloope, my name is Susie, do you mind if I call you by your first name?
Me: No, please do.
Customer Service Rep: Ok Mr Anthony, I understand you need to pay your bill is this correct?
Me: Yes.
Customer Service Rep: Ok I understand you need to pay your bill, how will you be paying?

The conversation continues but you get the point, right?!

We confirm that you confirmed that we confirmed you confirmed that we confirmed…What? Does this type of customer service drive anyone but me crazy? I want to speak to a human with a personality, who understand that I just need to get something simple done and will help me get it done quickly and efficiently. I understand the point behind all the scripting and cheesy machine talk, but it has become annoying just like the automated phone services that make your fingers bleed because of all the buttons you have to push! I was at lunch with a friend today discussing this and my frustrations with the company that I work for and decided I’d let you into my mind for a little bit. At my company we have this phrase, “Becoming an indispensable company.” How are we to become indispensable if we look, sound, talk, and walk, just like the other competitors in our field?
So to all you customer service people out there, I feel your pain, you can be human!

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