Pi Attitude Zone: Connectivity & Drive

Customer Service Lines: A Contradiction In Terms?

You know what an oxymoron is: it’s one of those definitions that internally contradicts itself, like “Military Intelligence” (thank you, Groucho Marx). 

Here’s an oxymoron for our times: “Customer Service Line”.  Everyone who has had occasion to phone one recently will know what Pi is talking about. All you wanted was to politely and good-naturedly report your problem to a fellow human being, and hear what they proposed to do about it.

Instead, you listened to a recording so meaninglessly and ingratiatingly upbeat that the lady who made it HAD to be on happy pills.  Then you listened to six series of four options which failed to include the one you wanted. Then you wound up in a loop of endlessly repeating but totally irrelevant instructions to “contact your such-and-such supplier”. Then you were summarily dumped into that eerily silent corner of electronic space-time from whose bourne no traveler returns. That’s when you threw your telephone at the wall, and shouted to anyone who happened to be listening that you would sooner die than do business with [supply company name here] ever again.

Customer service? More like a foolproof mechanism for avoiding human contact with customers, let alone having to satisfy them about their concerns.

It doesn’t take the massed talents of the Harvard Business School to figure out that hiding behind the voice-recorded equivalent of a barbed-wire fence is probably bad for business. How can this imbecility be so widely practiced by companies whose mission statements formally commit them to “listening to the voice of the consumer”? And how did those companies plan to do so without ever actually answering the #!^%* phone?

We’re guessing, but we suspect that the honest answer in most cases would be “We’re a cost-conscious company, and dealing with all those callers in real time would be prohibitively expensive”.

Curiously, there is an upside for the companies concerned, did they but know it. First, the pressure to respond can prompt them to simplify and streamline such procedures as online ordering of goods and the tracking of internet orders. If those things happen more smoothly, many irate phone calls would never be made in the first place. And when the aggrieved and frustrated consumer does get through, companies find that customers who interact with human beings are more likely to volunteer useful information, try a new product, or develop a loyalty to the company concerned. Excessive voice automation eliminates all that.

Pi says:  c’mon, corporations, give a damn.

Zone: Connectivity & Drive Country: Product – Business / Professional