Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Calling Customer Service

Hearing fellow bloggers Word Whiz and Horsetail Snake complain about poor customer service really boils me oil. Business, bah. Mankind should be their business! Our common welfare should be their business! And for some reason it is at this time of the rolling year that we suffer most!

I blame it on high tech. Voicemail, electronic answering machines, fax machines, on-line bot service--all that. Give me someone real who understands me, the customer, and truly wants to help. And I don't want to e-mail you, leave a voicemail message, read a complicated manual, go to your on-line help site or listen to some canned menu recording telling me that I have to press a number to get another canned menu recording.

Sometimes high tech does help in that quest for customer service. Take this past week. My son Greg joined my wife and I as we started a shopping day at the break of dawn with breakfast at a local restaurant. We walked in and waited at the hostess stand. Although there were a few early bird customers sipping coffee at their tables, no hostess or other employee seemed to be around.

No problem, we thought. So we waited a few minutes. Then a few minutes more. Where was the help? After what seemed like a rather unreasonable wait, the phone at the cashier's station began to ring (loudly). "Probably somebody else calling in sick," I commented. Greg shook his head to me, looking a bit sheepish.

At that moment a young lady came out of the back room and picked up the phone, but there was nobody on the other line, so she hung up and promptly seated us. The caller was Greg who dialed the restaurant on his cell phone. Calling customer service! Whatever works, I guess.

I remember a similar situation in a multi-plex theatre complex, the kind where you can get lost trying to find your theatre among a dozen or so others. During the movie, the projector went awry and the film stopped. After a couple minutes of "dead air", a fellow movie-goer got out his cell phone and called the theatre.

He said something to the effect of "Hea, this is xxxxxx in the theatre that is showing The Blair Witch Project. The film just died and nobody's coming down here to fix it. There are a lot of angry people in here right now and we're gonna do something unless you send somebody down here right away."

Of course, we weren't angry. The caller was loud enough for his voice to carry throughout the theatre. Everyone I saw was laughing. But the film was running again very shortly afterwards. Calling customer service. Sometimes the customer wins.


Blogger Peter said...

Hey Dave, we are all proud of that boy Greg, he knows how to use technology.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

What really gripes my butt is to call customer service for some big company that has out-sourced customer service to some Asian company.

Okay, okay, I understand economics, but when I have to repeatedly tell the person on the other end of the line, "I'm sorry I can't underdstand you" that's NOT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Not too long ago I got so frustrated that I told the woman I wanted to talk to someone who spoke english. She said ok and then supposedly transfered me to her supivisor.

I think she simply hung up. After ten minutes, I hung up and started all over.

4:53 AM  
Blogger bornfool said...

My wife had to call a cell phone company about some problems with her daughter's phone. Of course, she first got the automated system. She had to enter the daughter's cell phone number six different times, along with several other numbered options. The computerized voice also told her to have a bunch of other information ready including cell phone serial number manufacturers number, spec. number, ad nauseum. This made my wife have to find the original box that the phone came in to find all the stuff that the computer told her to have ready when she eventually would be put in contact with a live human being.
When she did finally talk to a person, they didn't need any of the information that they told her to chase down. 45 minutes on the phone to fix something that it only took the real person to fix in 30 seconds.

6:13 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Yea Greg! That was cunning!

Grrr. Don't get me started on customer service. Our local Walmart's policy seems to be "how rudely can we treat you,"rather than how can I help you?"

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Monique said...

Using technology for good rather than evil. Yay!

1:59 PM  
Blogger WordWhiz said...

It doesn't work for Home Depot, but I enjoyed the stories anyway!!

High-tech has been great for holiday shopping. I shop from home, order on line, track my shipments...I never fight traffic or crowds or rude cashiers! The stuff comes right to my door! I love it!!

I hope you ahve a wonderful and blessed Christmas!! I've so enjoyed getting to know you this year. Viva la 2006!!!

1:56 PM  
Anonymous vicki said...

Well, I'm really missing Gene. I hope his lines get untangled soon. The best I ever get with customer service is a chance to vent at Claire, my Sprint virtual customer service representative. I can swear at her all day and she stays patient and kind, saying merely, "I'm sorry. I didn't understand your response."

I hate to say this Dave, but in your previous post you sound an awful lot like my airhead 19 year old. I hope you've had a chance to air out the gray matter.

7:08 PM  
Blogger schnoodlepooh said...

Customer service. What a novel idea.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:51 AM  

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