Whose Time Counts?

Once upon a time this was not a customer service blog.  I don’t think I am a lot pickier than the average person but I do suffer from a personality quirk that makes me schedule multiple customer service episodes in a group, often on the same day.  I guess it’s sort of like holding your nose and chugging the medicine rather than trying to disguise the taste: if I’m to spend a day full of interruptions, cancellations and frustration might as well go big, eh? Besides, it creates a bit of a ‘busman’s holiday’ for a person who’s intrigued by all types of communication.  (Do I sound desperate?)

[Tweet “If I’m to spend a day full of interruptions & frustration, might as well go big, eh?”]

Do you remember Elizabeth Pantley’s wonderful parenting book Hidden Messages? She talks about the disconnects that can exist between the message we intend to send and the one received. The example that most often comes to my mind is the helpful, hovering parent who waits on a child hand and foot.  Her intention is for her child to feel unconditionally loved and supported so she is crushed to learn that all that “doing for” is sometimes interpreted as “she thinks I’m incompetent.”

So what does this have to do with customer service? I don’t think big companies intend to send the messages conveyed by so many of their practices.  For example, I’m having an internet problem and, as a result, am dealing with my cable company.  The women in the local office provide amazing, old school customer service — the kind of support that makes you glad to go in to their office.

In fact, they do such a good job I alway manage to forget about the company’s nationwide automated contact system: you know, the one that calls 5 or 6 times to remind, confirm and otherwise nag about the fact that the company is sending a technician?

[Tweet “I appreciate a reminder, especially when I made an appointment several months ago.”]

Time FliesI appreciate a reminder — especially when I made the appointment several months earlier.  I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. A reminder. One. Uno.  But beyond that?  Grrr. No mas.

As hard as I try, I do not find the cable company’s unrelenting auto-dials kind or helpful. I think I’m responding to a hidden message. Unfortunately, I think the message the message they are delivering is this:

Our time is more valuable than yours.  Not only do you need to stay home and wait for us, you had better respond to each and  every phone call we make — instantly — or we will make you repeat the process.  And you will go even longer without the service you’re paying for.

And somehow I don’t think that’s a message any company wants to send. Besides, the most important thing…

Oops.  Hold on.   Shoot.  What was I going to tell you?  Maybe I’ll remember before reminder call number three comes along.   Sigh.

[Tweet “Somehow I don’t think that’s a message ANY company wants to send.”]


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  • Peggy

    Who’s time indeed! You had me smiling through the whole thing. Who can’t relate, right? One automated call is enough…I get those from my doctor’s office. Once. 2 days before the appointment. Press 1 to confirm your appointment 🙂

    I wish they didn’t go to the automated appointment confirmation. My mom-in-law became obsolete at my doctor’s office when they implemented this…but that’s a different story.

    • Andrea

      I’m all for being friendly with my friends, but we seem to have lost the concept of commerce: you provide a service, I pay. Period. Don’t get me started….lol Thanks for taking the time to comment, Peggy.

    • Andrea

      Thank you for stopping by to help me laugh about it. They are gone. I am not incarcerated. It was a good day.

  • Laurie Seymour

    I love reading what you write, Andrea! This morning you provided my “morning laugh”. It’s the recognition of the things that we all experience. Wake up companies! There are better ways — for us, your customers — for you to provide customer service.