Customer Service

Never has so much money been spent on training people in customer service – and never has it been so poor. My own personal experience in recent months has shown me the very worst of systems designed to help customers with difficulties. First of all, I find it incredible that so many companies don’t communicate by email and that the only way you can contact them is via phone call or letter.

The phone call presents so many problems. First of all, you have to pay to use their premium number – especially if you have to fit your call into a busy working day and have to use your mobile. Then you have to negotiate the options at the beginning of the call. This sometimes leads to another set of options…and another. If you are very lucky you will get to speak to a real person. Or you may be plunged into a telephonic void and have to start again. There is nothing more depressing than finally getting the ring tone to be told you are in a queue and your call is the 9th to be answered.

The ‘new thing’ is the system that detects what you want when you speak to it. I tried this last week on a call to a train company. You tell the answering machine what you want. You tone down your regional accent and try to speak Queen’s English. My call went something like this:

‘I’d like a refund on my Oyster Card’

15 seconds of silence

‘For details on emissions, please refer to our website’

Back to the drawing board.

This could be a long blog – but maybe I’ll save location of call centres, lack of inter-departmental communication systems, rudeness of call centre staff, lack of product knowledge and systems for another day.  

One thing is for certain, when I have a good experience of customer service I tell everyone about it. But I also tell everyone when I have bad service.


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