By | Monday, June 30, 2008 1 comment
Warning, this is a rant. I'm not wanting my blogging to turn into a series of diatribes, but whats the point of having a blog if you cant vent some spleen from time to time?

"Your call is very important to us. We are experiencing an unusual call volume. Please continue to hold for the next available representative."

We've all heard it, and we all hate it. I'm not covering any new ground here, and no one reading this is likely to say "gee, Andrew, what's your beef?" But I think these message bug me for a slightly more esoteric reason that most.

We're all busy and none of us likes to wait on hold. That is true for me as well. However, the thing that bothers me the most is the patronizing and untruthful language that is used. The phrase that kills me is "We're experiencing an unusual call volume," (or similar.) We all know that's a lie. Its particularly a lie when you try calling at 9am on Monday, give up, call again at 2pm on Tuesday, give up, call again on Wednesday at 4:45pm, give up and finally wait the full 32 minutes when you call on Thursday at 10:30am. The first time you might believe it. But there's no way they're experiencing an unusual call volume every time you call all week long. The truth is that they haven't hired enough telephone representatives. The truth is that they are spending their money somewhere else. Maybe their allocation of resources is absolutely correct! Maybe hiring more telephone representatives is not the best way for them to spend their money. Most recently I experienced the dreaded "unusual call volume" while trying to reach the courthouse in Oakland, California. What if the message had said, "We're sorry, but we're spending your limited tax dollars hiring police to walk the streets instead of staff to answer the phones."

The truth is that all businesses and the public sector balance costs and benefits and decide how to allocate their funds. My local courthouse is a monopoly, so I cant choose to shop elsewhere. This is not the case with most commercial enterprises. When I can't get through to Krups to ask about my broken blender, I resolve to never buy another Krups product ever again (and I haven't!) When I called Leviton to ask a question about a light switch, a human being answered on the first ring. I didn't know what to say. I wasn't ready. I had assumed that I had at least 10 minutes to get my stuff ready. Now I am buying only Leviton products for my new house. When businesses balance the cost and benefits of hiring customer support staff, do they accurately account for intangible customer "good will?" I suspect not.

Which leads me to my next bitch: "Your call is very important to us." No, its not. Its not! Really. My business may be very important to you, and you may need to take my call to acquire or retain my business, but the call itself is not important to you. You don't know why I'm calling. You don't know what I am going to say. Maybe its important, maybe its not. Maybe I'm bored and lonely and calling because I like to get abuse from customer support representatives :-) In any case, "your call is very important to us," is patronizing BS and it bugs me.

So what do I want to hear? Well, some companies do get it right; "Thank you for calling Acme Widgets. Your call will be answered by the next customer service representative. You are caller number.... 4.... in the queue. Your expected wait time is approximately.... 7..... minutes." Thank you, thank you, thank you! No BS about unusual call volumes or the importance of my call, and an indication of my wait, so I can go put a load of laundry in the wash, or whatever. True, I still have to wait 7 minutes, but I don't have to be infuriated while doing so.
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1 comment:

  1. Actually, they did tell me the wait would be 13-19 minutes, and the robo-answering-thingy gave me the option to get a call back. Certain I would miss the call, I decided to wait. The problem is I waited 45 minutes.

    And the only reason I was on the phone in the first place was to give them a confirmation number their computer system already had and thereby get them to stop calling me.

    And do they value my business? They're a monopoly and I don't have a choice. It's not as if I can leave them if I want to cook or heat my house.

    Sorry, ranting. But you started it. :)


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