Now listen, children, as we discuss a strange phenomenon that existed many years ago. It’s not exactly extinct, but it’s so rare today, most people haven’t ever experienced it, save for those of us who are…um…old.
I’m talking about “customer service” which, by definition, is the support a company offers their customers. Support both before, during, and after one purchases a product, which makes being a customer, well, nice.
Once upon a time, kind workers hurried to assist shoppers with their acquisitions and if you called on the phone an actual person – who was generally very sweet – would work hard to help a buyer overcome any problems or concerns.
But somewhere along the way, customer service went the way of the dinosaurs.
“Excuse me sir,” I said holding out a bill that I’d received from AT&T. “I was accidentally charged for two cellphones instead of one, so my bill is double what it should be.” I smiled sweetly.
A long time later, while I watched the gentleman poke his tablet, he threw up his arms. “I can’t help you.”
I then requested to see the manager.
“I’m very busy right now,” the young woman said in a huff. “I will get to your problem tonight after five. I’ll call you.”
Though my first thought was to mention that there seemed to be no unattended customers in the store, I acquiesced. That evening, I waited. No call. So, I returned the next day and the whole scenario replayed itself. I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I smiled. “You didn’t call me,” I said in my most honeyed voice.
“Yes, well…” she sputtered. “I’ll get to it later.”
I am loath to admit that the not-so-nice version of me began leaking out. “I think you should sit down and we can take care of it now.”
She stared around the room, as if looking for cover. Then, to my surprise, she sat. Still, the outcome was not what I expected. After fussing with her tablet, she called over the first guy I’d dealt with and insisted he would fix the problem. Then she promptly disappeared. I’m not sure what she thought had changed from his inability to help me the day before, still I found myself facing him again.
Finally, with my day slipping by, he stared at me. “You should call AT&T’s customer service line.”
“I don’t want to wait on hold. Couldn’t you call for me?” I folded my hands and batted my eyes
Now, I’m not the type to get loud or angry in public. After all, I was a sports official for 40 years and, in that capacity, I wasn’t allowed to lose my cool. Still, when I stood and followed him to a payment kiosk, he barked. “You stay six feet away from me!”
I squinted. I was doing my social-distancing due diligence. Did he think I – a little, 65-year-old woman – might kick his ass. (Yes, it occurred to me, but I promise you I did nothing untoward.)
Soon thereafter, my sweetie pie and I were searching the isles at Home Depot. He asked one of the employees for help and the man shouted, “I’m having a bad day!” After which, he threw his clipboard and stalked away, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Then, one of our favorite restaurants, which we have patronized for years, gave us poorly done take-out and refused to replace it. And I can’t count the hours I spent on hold with Amazon and Social Security and Medicare and Cox Cable, often not connecting with a single human being and getting little or no satisfaction in regard to the issues I called about. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I’ll connect you with someone who can.” Then click, you’re disconnected after waiting on hold for half an hour and you’re forced to begin the whole dreary process again.
Here’s the thing. All of this pretty much happened in the same couple of weeks.
So, the question is, why are we, the customers, being treated so badly? Companies are shunting their customer service responsibilities as they hide behind technology. “Please listen to this recording as our options have changed.” “Please go to our website.” “We are experiencing very long wait times, so call back later.”
What can we do? Not much probably, though it would be nice to see a website that listed corporations according to their customer-service amenities. Just think, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to choose companies with which to do business according to their efforts on our behalf? Imagine the joy if a real person answered our call promptly, sincerely listened to our complaint, and kindly rectified the issue in a reasonable amount of time.
Sadly, that probably isn’t much more feasible than bringing the dinosaurs back to life.
Still, a girl can dream.
A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND
AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.
Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint
Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.
Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.
Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?
Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb
4 thoughts on “The death of customer service”
Oh, they’re also hiding behind the Covid 19 crisis. “Owing to the pandemic, our services might take a little longer…”
But, have to say, since letting my blonde hair segue naturally into a blotchy grey/white, almost all shops and so-called services look straight over the top of my head and look for the next customer. It has been a year now since I actually got what I’d call “customer service.”
Like Anne, I find the technology services the worst. We have something here in Australia which has the world’s worst service system. Because it is based overseas, we customers are forced to become ranting racists by asking “I want to speak to someone in Australia please.”
I understand completely, Vonnie. It’s exhausting. And I agree that we older folks are sometimes overlooked. Sigh…
That happens in the US too, Vonnie. 90 percent of the customer service people I encounter via telephone sound like English is a second language.
And while they certainly try, if we don’t understand what they’re saying, how is that productive. Just sayin’.