SERVICE AT ITS WORST
week I called the main telephone number of a large organization.
As expected, the automated attendant answered and ran through
eight menu options. As usual, none of the options was what
I needed, so I pressed the “0” button expecting
to get a live person. Imagine my surprise when a recorded
voice told me, “All of our operators are too busy to
take your call. Please call back later when it is not so busy.”
The voice went on to tell me the busy times of the week and
the month that were not good times to call. I called back
about an hour later and finally got the opportunity to speak
with a live operator. He was obviously bored with his job
and gave me the third degree by asking me a number of pointed
questions on why I was calling the person I wanted to speak
with. The message from him was very clear, “How dare
you call our employees during working hours.”
When calling someone today, expect to get voice mail. We are
all so accustomed to speaking after a beep that many people
have developed a Pavlov like response to the beep. One local
restaurant beeps its wait staff when food is ready for pick
up. When the beep goes off, twenty people check their pockets
for their cell phone or pager and twenty others start reciting
their name and telephone number out loud.
While you are on hold, other companies have recorded commercials
that are repeated over and over and over again and again.
Do we really have to hear about the company’s award
winning service while waiting an hour to have the privilege
of speaking to one of their award winning customer service
reps? They never say who gave them the award, just that they
have “award winning service”.
Some companies have gotten very high tech as their answering
mechanisms can recognize sounds. They ask for the name of
the person you want to speak to. If the machine understands
you, it transfers the call immediately to that party. Sometimes
these devices get confused. Once I asked for Jim Frey and
got Kim Day. Sometimes these machines do not recognize what
is being said. The recording gets pretty rude about letting
you know that it did not understand. One actually raised its
voice and sounded very perturbed that it could not understand
me. I had to repeat the same thing three times and each time
the machine got louder and more indignant with its response.
After I realized I was shouting at a machine, I hit the “O”
button only to find out that it does not recognize that entry.
Then there is always the automated directory. Some are very
nice by asking the caller to spell the first three letters
of the person’s last name. Let me see – is it
Smith or Smyth. Others ask the caller to spell the first and
last name of the individual you want to speak to. This is
OK unless the person you want is named Bernadette Zymkowitcz.
What number do I use for a Z, again? If you spell the name
wrong, the recorded voice politely informs you that there
is no one employed with that name and to please try again.
After 15 minutes of trying to spell Zymkowitcz, I gave up
and dialed “O” to speak to a live person only
to find that “O” is not a recognized entry.
Still other companies are quick to answer the phone with a
human being. It is nice to get the live person. The customer
service rep, however, is usually answering the phone in a
different country. Therefore, the CSR does not speak English
very well and I do not speak their language at all. What we
than have is a failure to communicate.
As customers you are all hereby bestowed with the” McKenzie
Patient Customer Award” for having to endure this sub-standard
customer service. The next time they tell you about their
award winning service, tell them you are an award winning
Oh and be sure to ask your employees what your customers are
saying about your telephone system.