Customer Service - Our PriorityI’m sure a lot of people out there have had to deal with a customer service representative at some point in their life – whether with the phone company, the cable company, the bank, or even (*gasp*) the DMV. Do you remember the last time you hung up the phone, or left an office, and thought to yourself, “Wow, that was a really nice and helpful person who remembered that I was the customer and they offered me wonderful service! I can’t wait to deal with them the next time I have an issue that needs to be solved!” No, it would probably be a safer bet to guess how many ways you were able to conjugate the verb “to fuck” on the fly, and the number of different parts of speech in which you were able to use it. Grammar can be so inventive at those times!

So why do they even call it “Customer Service?” Most times – at least in my personal experiences – these people don’t even remember why they’re there, except, perhaps, so I can make their lives totally miserable by asking them to do their job. It seems the more representatives I talk to, the more excuses I get for why they don’t want to do their job, or why it’s impossible to cater to the customer (that would be me). I hear excuses like:

  • “I’m sorry, but the person that normally takes care of that is out of the office today.” (Well, isn’t that just too bad? Sucks to be you, then, because you’re next in line to fix it!)
  • “I’m so busy; I have so many things I have to do, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get to it today.” (Then perhaps you should have prioritized better. Sucks to be you!)

Or – my favorite – when I called to complain to DirecTV that we had no signal when we came back from vacation (which, I might add, was on a Saturday). They had me check this setting, then that setting, then reboot the system, then check these settings again, reboot it again, then they told me:

DirecTV: Oh, this will definitely need a technician to come out; we think it might be your dish that needs adjusting.

Curious Bloke: Oh, really? Well, I’ll be home for the rest of this afternoon.

DirecTV: We can’t possibly send anyone out that soon. The soonest we can have someone come out will be Wednesday between 8 and 4.

Curious Bloke: Sorry, that’s unacceptable. I have a job and work for a living.

DirectTV: Then in that case, the soonest we can get someone out there will be next week Saturday between 12 and 4.

That was my queue to hang up the phone and call Comcast, who came and hooked us up the following afternoon.

Perhaps we need to start using the phrase “that’s unacceptable” more often when we are dealing with customer service representatives to get our point across. Maybe the person we’re talking to isn’t the person we need to be talking to. Maybe they don’t have the level of authority needed to make the decisions we’re requesting. So let’s just stop, take a deep breath, and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not acceptable; may I speak with your manager please?” I did that with a Philadelphia Jeweler and went through 4 people (from the “That’s what the manufacturer told me” person, to the “I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything about it” person, to the “Well what do you want me to do about it” person, and finally to the “You’re right, that is unacceptable; I’ll take care of it” person) till I finally got to someone with the authority to actually do something, fix the issue, and make me happy.

There’s no need to be a royal bitch (though sometimes it can be fun), but there’s no reason we need to take incompetence or mediocrity as the last word when we are the customer with a genuine issue. And, if after all that, they’re still unwilling to work with us, we have every right to take our business elsewhere.