I’ve never worked as a customer service rep, but I can imagine the first day of work. It would be a training session in how to provide customer service. Notice I didn’t say ‘good’ customer service. The instructor would say something like this:
“Now whatcha wanna do it is to to make ’em repeat everything they’ve already said, or typed into their telephone keypad. Good time waster. Ask lots of dumb questions. Then, and only then, offer help. Pretend to be interested, get their hopes up, and then Wham! Tell ’em they’ll have to talk to another department, like Provisioning, or Promotions, and to call back between 8 am and 5 pm the next day.”
I wish I was exaggerating. And I can’t be the only one who’s had bad, terrible, horrendous service.
Have you seen those “Peggy” ads on television? Sure you have. Each opens with an exterior shot of a solitary shack set in a snowy, barren wasteland that suggests Siberia. Inside this lonely outpost sits Peggy, a middle aged, bearded, Russian accented man who answers old fashioned telephones all day for USA Prime Credit. “My name Peggy. What is problem, please?” he asks a caller in one commercial.
My favorite is one in which a stylish woman on a city street calls and asks for a supervisor. Peggy is eager to help. “Supervisor is genius,” he boasts. “I transfer.” The phone is handed to one odd character after another until the receiver lands back at Peggy’s desk. “Hello, this is Peggy.”
These situations would not be so funny if they were not true, or nearly true.
The lengthiest, and most torturous customer service I’ve ever had was about five years ago. And Verizon, who supplied my DSL Internet connection at the time, brought it on themselves, and then me.
Every week, it seemed, I’d get another postcard in the mail about becoming a new DSL customer. Hello, I wanted to say. I’m already a customer. But the cards kept coming. And the advertised monthly rates were far below what I was paying. I finally figured out that if I changed my DSL speed, I could save 10 dollars a month. It wasn’t all that fast to begin with, and I probably wouldn’t notice the difference.
So I called Verizon. Give me the lower speed, please, I said. Here’s what they did. They stopped my current Internet service, and told me there would be a four day wait until “Provisioning” could get around to flipping a switch, or whatever it is they do to change speeds.
You guessed it. Four days later, still no Internet. I called again, and over the next two weeks I dealt with any number of “Peggys” whose answers were maddeningly varied. I finally demanded a supervisor, whose name was Craig, I think, who gave me his personal work number, and “took ownership” of the problem. After three weeks, “Provisioning” still hadn’t done their thing, but Craig said he’d keep me informed.
Turns out, I called Craig more times than he called me. I usually got his voice mail, and my messages went unreturned. Two more weeks went by, no results from Craig, and I was going out of my mind.
Late one day, he actually called. “You have Internet again.” He waited for my sincere thanks.
“Yes, I know,” I said with a grumpy voice. “We got it back this morning. And why didn’t you call me last Friday like you said you would?”
Poor, unfortunate Craig. There would be no thanks for this ‘genius’.