Saturday, April 4, 2009

so you called a call center..

You call the general 800 number with a question. Lets say you want to add a service... and you hear "oh that’s great, let me get you to the sales department"
3- 3.11pm
You sit on hold. Listening to commercials for this providers product and some really cheesy 80s soft rock or maybe some poorly done classical music... it starts to grate your nerves about 3.07... By the time the sales dept picks up, you are truly DONE.
'thank you for calling the sales dept' so you give them your account info, wait 3 more minutes for them to pull it up and then tell them what you want, only to hear "oh, we don’t service your account here. Let me get customer service"
3.13- 3.26pm
You fume because you know you just came from customer service and this hodgepodge of bs music interrupted by the extra hype commercial lady has you about to jump off a bridge
customer service picks up and again, tells you that you need the sales dept. you try to tell this one you just came from there, but to no avail... they transfer you again
3.28- 3.39pm
more f-ing hold music. more f-ing commercials. you want to hang up, but with 40 minutes of your day wasted, you refuse to let it all be in vain
sales again. this one seems to know what they are talking about. they do try to get you to the right place and even stay on the line to get the RIGHT rep in the RIGHT customer service dept and they actually succeed in getting someone who sounds ready and able to help!! Whoo-rah! BUT then you hear the dreaded 'I’m going to drop off the line now' from the transfer rep and in inevitable happens- they disconnect you from the call entirely.
you actually jump off a bridge.

has this (or something like it) ever happened to you? are you tired of calling into service providers and getting no where? congratulations! so is everyone & I have the most honest and real advice you will ever in your life receive on how to deal with it..... ready?
sorry, its true... the following is an outline on what is really going on and why you really can’t ever get anything done. maybe it will help you. maybe it won’t. but at least it will give you a little more insight as to why you feel like you need some KY before you call an 800 number. the list is long, and goes in no particular order, but read on if you like.

call time: the importance of this statistic varies in every company and department, but general terms, you can expect the following... customer service works hard to get you off the phone as fast as possible; tech, support staff & sales do everything in their power to keep you as long as they can.
customer service generally gets marked as to how fast they can get a resolution for you. now this is not to say they have to actually SOLVE anything... this just means that when it comes to their stats, getting you out of their call que IS resolution. And yes, that word should be spelled ‘queue’ but it never is in call center land- again, something you just have to deal with.
All the other departments have functions that actually require them to SHOW a resolution, so finding it is in their best interests. Techs need to close tickets, support needs you not to call ever again and sales need your money... all reasons to keep you there until you get what you want and they get what they want. The longer you keep them from getting what they want, the greater your chances of being on hold forever are.

speaking on hold… has a rep ever told you they were going to put you on hold and they would be right back? You sit and gear yourself up for the grating voice on the hold music, but all you hear is silence. Have you been hung up on? You look at you phone- nope still connected. Is the hold lady dead? You should only be so lucky. Are you call center purgatory? Not like that ever happened before… WHAT HAPPENED? So you either wait patiently or say “hello, hello, hello” to which your rep (usually) comes back and lets you know they are still there, just working on your issue, order, resolution, whatever, and to just be patient. This is called ‘silent hold’ (a term most companies will write your rep up for actually saying they do to customers- hey they pay a lot of money for the bitch on the hold music & damn it they want their money’s worth!)
silent hold = the mute button
basically, your rep either gets penalized for putting you on real hold, doesn’t want to have the ridiculous idle chat with you while they fix your shit or you pissed them off and they want you to sit there and think about what you did until they feel like talking to you again (or you hang up).
While you are there, it’s probably in your best interests to not:
a- pee, poo, fart, etc… like you are alone. You aren’t and it’s gross. No one needs to hear you grunt and groan.
b- Talk isshh about the rep. THEY CAN HEAR YOU. And you will be there while they talk to their co-workers about you, run to the vending machine, eat their lunch, smoke a cigarette or just pop shit right back at you without your knowledge.
c- Participate in a sexual act. Really? You think that they can’t tell you are trying to muffle your ‘ohhs and ahhs’ when they come back on the line RIGHT as you about to get yours? You ever wonder why their return is so perfectly timed? They heard everything, ya lil freaky mc nasty!
d- Participate in an illegal act. it’s amazing, when you want the call recorded because your rep is an ass, it never is... but when you make a crack sale to an undercover it’s ALWAYS recorded. Learn sign language if the spot is that busy on the day you have a billing issue.

bureaucracy… if the government which is full of people YOU vote there cant get anything done, what makes you think that a bunch of faceless folks that never have to see you (or get put up for re-election) give a damn about the process being difficult? Yeah, you could take your business elsewhere, but there are only so many providers for each service out there- so how far are you going if we know they are going to treat you the same way? Why do you think customer service at these places NEVER gets better, but the new customer deals do? They know that someone else will piss you off and you will make a hasty decision to switch to the competition for the “extra special one day only deal” that actually lasts indefinitely. You’ll be back eventually. If not, there is someone else that will. Companies care about the end result only… and if they lose 2%, but gain 3% because marketing did their job right... then in the end… fuck you. (I said this wasn’t going to be pretty)

Your importance. Now I know that last section might have hurt your feelings… but honestly, the sooner customers understand that in the companies eyes they are doing you a FAVOR by allowing you to have their service, the less stressed they would be. Yes, companies spend millions on marketing and advertising to get you- but much past that, pay your bill or get out. The truth is unless everyone in America got together and boycotted ONE company (of any service) and they lost ALL their customers at ONCE, then corporate America could give less than 2 damns what you individually do- its about the collective. And collectively, we as a society are too consumerist to go without one of our precious luxuries.
So no, your rep doesn’t care you expect to get a free phone with your cell service, free hbo with you cable service and on time delivery from DHL. Glad to know that’s the expectation- but all these companies expect is that they will exceed expectations with 50% of their customer base. If you are in the other 50% that day, fuck you.
Add to that, your rep is getting raped worse than you- DAILY. Imagine you go through this at most, what a few times a year… they have to do it 40 hours a week AND take your bull isshhh. Yeah, they shouldn’t work somewhere they dislike, hate, etc… but have you looked for a job lately? Ok then, you see why they are there.
Oh yeah, complaining to a manager… HA! You do realize that’s not a manager you are talking to, right? It’s their cube neighbor or teammate or even the same rep with a spiffy new accent saying “uh huh. I’m sorry to hear that. Uh huh. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. But NO, we aren’t going to fix your problem.” Why? Because managers know less about how to fix your issue than your rep does. They also could care less and are authorized to do NOTHING. Blame the execs and profit margin. (who, btw, are playing golf, not waiting for your escalation so they can swoop in to save the day.)

So what do you do? How do you survive calling a service provider?
1-have you account information there. RIGHT there. Let the rep know you have it and are waiting on them to let you know when they are ready for it.
2-Speak understandable English. I know, your rep may be in another country, their American counterparts don’t like that fact anymore than you do. But execs are dicks that like to make a profit. Speaking in partial, broken, country, or warp speed English isn’t going to help the situation.
3-Don’t go into a tirade about the last 4 reps until the current rep can wrap their head around your first name. 7/10 times that isn’t the right one either and going on and on is wasting both of your times. State clearly the exact thing you need in the most elementary way possible and wait for instruction. If you think you are going to the wrong place- say so and why. You will still get transferred, but most reps will at least stay on the line to make sure the next idiot knows that this IS their job and they WILL do it.
4-Don’t press the prompt for sales because it’s the easiest way to get a person. It’s also the easiest way to get a pissed off, broke person and end up holding for the right department anyway. Actually LISTEN to the prompts and if you accidentally end up in the wrong place- hey it happens- most will understand if you at least TRIED.
5-Stop expecting everything to be free. You want a service, you need the things to go with it for it to work, just accept it. If a perfect stranger called you wanting to sleep on your couch for free because “it’s just sitting there anyway” you wouldn’t react too kindly- so the fact that your providers equipment “is just sitting there anyway” is not justification for you to be owed it for free. And if you are ordering something- HAVE YOUR CREDIT CARD! Look at the economy, companies know your credit’s bad. So it’s theirs and they need their scratch!
6-Block out time. It’s sad, it’s unfair and it sucks- but life is life and life says you will wait if you really want resolution. You aren’t the only one, there aren’t enough (properly trained) reps to accommodate customer bases, execs delight in making your rep do things in the slowest and most painful way possible and everyone is frustrated. Bitching that your anus wax is in 10 minutes isn’t going to motivate anyone to do anything, much less speed up the process of doing nothing.

If you made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! If you are reading this while you are on hold, you still have 2-3 minutes until the next rep is available (a.k.a. 10 more minutes)

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