Good Customer Service Reception

Can you hear me now? Good.

Ah, good customer service. How rare thou art.

All I want is a bit of help with my problem, only a few minutes of your time, tops. I wish that I could solve this myself, really. That way, both of our days would be as pleasant as possible.

But, alas, that little number on my cellphone company’s website directs me to you, and all you seem to do is go through a script that makes me feel as though I’m a number on your screen.

I’ve done customer service. I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. There’s something empowering about helping someone resolve an issue and getting a “thank you” at the end. Most people are pleasant over the phone/email/instant messenger. Sure, you get a jerk every once in awhile, but those are the best people to deal with. They’re like a difficult puzzle that you just need to work at in order to solve, and when you do, it’s oh so satisfying, especially when they’re grateful that you at least tried your best. Tried. Very important.

Do you really want me to?

Yet most customer service reps that I speak to sound like they’re ready to cut their wrists . . . or wouldn’t care if I threatened to cut mine over the phone. They don’t go the extra mile to assist me, like get up and speak to someone who can actually help. They seem much more willing to say that there’s nothing they can do, and you as the customer have to pull out the old “I want to speak to your manager” routine to get anything done. Is that even necessary?

Look, Mr./Ms. Customer Service, I know that the company probably doesn’t mean much to you–even though you are the face of the company, the person who I will talk to more than anyone else there, and who will help form my lasting impression about the company as a whole for years to come–but can you at least pretend? Or maybe get another job and give someone else who actually enjoys interacting with people a shot?

Much obliged.

What’s the best/worst customer service experience that you’ve had?

My Apples

I was proud of my apples.

They sat snug in a bag, waiting to impress and nourish. I was four years old and shaggy haired and excited to share my gifts with my kindergarten friends.

The week before, a classmate and his mother had brought in aluminum trays full of homemade cupcakes; we saw those edible rainbows and lost no time devouring each one, mumbling a unified “thank you” when prompted by our teacher. My classmate ate along with us, of course, but he savored the icing and crumbs and sprinkles with pride, knowing that he had gained points with everyone that day.

And so it was with a desire to share and be recognized and see smiles and receive thank yous from twenty or so of my peers that I decided to bring something to class the following week. As the magical day approached, I raided the food cabinets, searched through bins, and scoured our fridge to find something worth sharing. Unfortunately, those were rough times for my family; what little food we had was hardly worth sharing with anyone else.

Except for a small bag of apples at the bottom of the fridge. Those succulent parents of applesauce were just what I needed. Excited for school the next day, I hardly slept. In the morning, I snuck the apples into my book bag.

But there was a problem, one that my mother might have pointed out to me if I had clued her in, or maybe not for fear that it would break my heart. I didn’t realize what was wrong until I handed my bag of apples to my teacher before snack time, beaming with that odd altruism kids have.

There were only four apples.

I like to think that my four year old mind registered the apples as huge, more than enough to share with everyone else, including my teacher. I even told my teacher that we could slice them up to make more. But with a sympathetic smile and a hand on my shoulder, she explained that it wasn’t enough for everyone, and that maybe I could bring something else to share with everyone.

But how could she know that there wasn’t anything else at home to share?

Memory Machines

Just a quick post today as the writing Muse has a hold of me something fierce.

More and more, I’m noticing my dependency on technology in a very key area: memory.

A friend of mine is in the hospital, and she gave me the phone number to her room, which I promptly put into my cellphone. However, for some reason, I couldn’t commit it to memory, nor did I feel particularly inclined to. I realized that I didn’t know any of my friends’ or family members’ phone numbers. I had them all stored away in my cellphone with little fear of losing them. And if I did, I could just reach out to them on Facebook and get their numbers. If that failed, then email would work just fine.

But years ago, before the advent of the Internet, I would memorize numbers because I had to. Sure, I had a little black book too, but at any given time, I could recite a list of numbers off the top of my head, at least the ones belonging to my closest friends and family. Since it’s no longer necessary to do so now, I feel like I’ve lost something.

It’s not just phone numbers, either. It’s all kinds of facts that I don’t feel an urgency to remember. Why? Because a casual search on Google or Wikipedia will give me the info I need. So that little transition from short term memory to long term doesn’t happen as much. Who needs to remember a bunch of facts these days anyway? Or Shakespeare quotations, which my literature professors could recite in a heartbeat?

It seems that machines are taking over not only labor but memory storage and management. I feel a Terminator 2, Skynet becoming aware scenario coming on. Maybe one day we’ll free up so much of our brain that we won’t have to remember a thing ourselves, and we can devote that brain power to something else.

Nah.

What do you guys think?