Let’s Drink to Customer Service, or should I say, Drown Our Sorrows!

May 9, 2022 Off By Mark Paul

After nearly 30 minutes hanging on…
“Hello.  My name is Poylzhqa.    how can I help you today?”
Good morning.  I would like to stop one of the add-ons on my account please.
Yes of course, I can certainly assist you with that.  So just that I am understanding.  You wish to close your account
No!  I was to stop an add-on!
Oh yes.  I can help you with that.  First what is your name and address please…
Click…. gone!!!  Cut off!!!

So this is often how the chat support conversations begin and sometimes ends.  With a misunderstanding or a tech failure!!  Help from a person whose name is unpronounceable, and you will probably never speak to again, so if you get cut off you have to start all over again.  His indeterminable nationality will remain a mystery but you can be sure that it bears no relation to British culture or even comes close to bridging the nuances of the English language.  And remember, he doesn’t even have to think!  Any question not on his script and you are holding on while he goes and speaks to a supervisor!

What we’re talking about here is support communication in a global business world.  The pretext of going global was to serve the customer better but in truth it is clear that the real motive was profit, compartmentalising customer service, and negligible regulations.

It is deadly frustrating, no matter what industry, whether it’s broadband service providers, insurance companies, banks, energy suppliers, online retailers etc.  All are isolated and protected from the million stupid questions that are fielded every single day by robotically indoctrinated boys and girls from every continent under the sun, with stock answers that you are likely to find quicker in any FAQ!  You will never, I repeat, NEVER speak to a decision-maker.  Protocol and policy are sacrosanct.

Granted a few customer service departments are “customer friendly”.  But Amazon is probably the only one that will bend over backwards to satisfy you even at their own expense.  The Chinese have got it sorted.  They don’t even bother with Customer Service.  If you’re not satisfied with their product they will just refund you, to hell with the product, throw it in the bin.  Never mind the “trash” problems.  They don’t care.  Up until recently they took a huge chunk of imported rubbish from the West to dispose of.  But this got too much even for them.  But that’s another subject.

I often breathe a deep sigh of relief when I hear a female voice answer the phone.  They do seem to know what they are doing more than males and this more confident, I’ve-done-it-a-thousand-times approach, is much more assuring that you will end up satisfied.

But there is a lameness to the puissance of global reach.  You have to take what they offer, there are no modifications, special conditions or variations on a theme.  This or that, yes or no!  Also, if the website functionality produces an error, no one ever fixes it.  BT are the worst for this showing an error on my mobile phone page that I mentioned several times over the past year but persists to this day, stalling any further up to date info.  Scottish Hydro run a close second with a very dodgy online payment system that randomly balks and fails.  This means reverting to an archaic phone system of punching in endless long numbers.  I can safely advise if you get it wrong, hang up and start again, as any fumbling fingers will result in a failed payment.  Both these end up with your payment amount on hold!

I think the worst situation of all is insurance.  It is likely that most insurance companies refuse payouts by default unless the circumstances are plainly obvious.  Private health insurance can be a nightmare of megalithic proportions if you don’t read the small print in every detail before signing.  Yes, you may get that operation next week instead of next year, and the hospital may be more like a hotel, but if you haven’t read the fine print don’t be surprised if, whilst sitting up in your Slumberland bed and silk sheets, you get a visit from the hospital bursar to tell you that this part of your stay isn’t included in the insurance!   Often, much worse than this, when you’ve paid your premiums religiously for the past 20 years only to find out that the policy doesn’t cover the months of treatment you will need to restore you to health.  Pay up or die!

So, the days of popping into your bank and having an informal word with your bank manager who is happy to accommodate your unusual request because you have been a loyal customer for years and he sees you and your family at church every Sunday, are ancient history!  That world is gone.  But I refuse to say, “never to return”!   The global business model fails at every turn when it comes to community relations.   The only real beneficiaries are the company directors and shareholders.  But where does that leave the rest of us.  Playing mindlessly with the toys they provide, until they break, and with no one to fix it, we can never have that same toy again!  But hey!  At least we can talk to Customer Service.  We may get a refund even though our toy broke a couple of weeks outside the year’s guarantee!  So, tear your hair out and scream in front of the mirror in the bathroom, then when you call be as nice as pie, but don’t hold your breath on that refund!