Monday, March 12, 2012

Why customer service sucks

We've all been there when it comes to customer service. A simple issue that should have taken no more than three minutes has become an hour long ordeal. It's taken an hour because customer service agents are judged on how quickly they handle calls, not whether or not they solve problems. So, rather than being helped, we're shuffled around in ways that would call for PETA boycotts if we were cattle.

First, we talk to Sally for for a minute. She sends us to Shanika who sends us to Jamie who sends us to Tyrone, who sends us to Steve who sends us to another Sally, but not the Sally we talked to before so we have to tell the same story for the sixth time, who sends us to a guy whose name is probably Ramswaroop, but who tells us his name is "Robert."

It's a diverse group of people that all have different backgrounds, education levels, and attitudes. Taking a degree of relativity into consideration, "Robert" probably cares about his job the most because before the call center came, there were absolutely no jobs in his town. The Sallies are both married and providing supplemental income, so they don't care that much because they know they can quit any time. Shanika thinks she's making decent money, but doesn't like the job AT ALL. Steve and Tyrone are both young guys getting their first jobs out of school. Steve is a little bitter because he got a college degree and is doing a job that is "beneath" him. Tyrone is excited because not only is he the first in his family to graduate high school, but after a lot of hard work and job hunting, he is fully employed with a large company that SUPPOSEDLY had benefits. The realization that no matter how hard he works, this is the best he will do at this company hasn't hit yet. Jamie is a strangely zen combination of Steve and Tyrone. He has has a degree, he has been working there a long time, he knows no matter how hard he works, he won't move up in the company, or if he does it will be marginal, but he shrugs his shoulders and says, "It's better than nothin'....not by much, but still better."

They all make different wages, but they're all underpaid. Steve and Jamie make more than the Sallies and "Robert" makes 1/10 of what Tyrone makes, which is still more than what Shanika makes. The top earner is somewhere around $9 per hour.

Even at their individual best, they all provide the same level of customer service....which is to say NONE. Whether it's because of their attitudes or because they've been trained NEVER to satisfy a customer, the end result is the same and there's an important reason why. Sally, Shanika, Jamie, Tyrone, Steve, Sally 2, and "Robert" all have one thing in common: They have never met the CEO of the company, they don't know what he looks like, they probably don't even know his name.

It may sound like it's no big deal because a lot of people have never met, seen, or can name the CEO of their place of employment. Just because it's "normal" doesn't mean it's NOT completely crazy. It's one of those standard insanities we've all accepted. First, forget how normal it is and realize how crazy it is. Do you really care about working hard for someone you've never even seen? Conversely, if you're the CEO, do you really care about the struggles of folks you can't even picture?

Deep down, it's the real reason customer service never works. The people handling the problems are totally detached from the people making the decisions. Who could blame the aforementioned crew for not caring? They're being judged on how quickly they get rid of you, whether they re-route you or not, whether they serve you or not, whether they bust their asses or not, they make the same modest wage. They could satisfy every customer that called, they wouldn't see a dime. In fact, they might end up in hot water because their average call time would increase.

When they're new, they might get the same complaint every day and try to bring it to the attention of their managers until the realize they're screaming into outer space. Even if they deal with the same complaint 50 times a day every day for 10 years, policy will not change to help these customers because it doesn't benefit the folks who benefit from it all the most.

Worse, the puppet masters of these businesses don't even know what a customer is anymore. If they ever did deal with a customer, it was so long ago, it's buried deep within the recesses of their minds. It almost makes me think of the American Revolution, only with marketing. King George is a CEO, the angry colonists are angry customers, the call center workers are the politicians lobbying against a's almost worth going to war. You have these rich, billionaire assholes controlling EVERYTHING and you hate it, but you have no power, and you have no choice but to support them. In fact, some people are trying to make a war out of it. A lot of them are in the Occupy movement...though bad customer service is just one of the many grievances. The only problem is, these billionaires are in bed with the government, so they push for laws that take even more power away from the people...and then the people try to ask the government to change this....yeah right. Like they're really going to stop getting billion dollar blow jobs from large corporations.

Something that might be more effective than Occupy when it comes to bigwig sympathy is if every CEO of a corporation that employs more than 100 people were to work in his own call center for a day. It's one thing to see a bunch of pesky hippies picketing one of your buildings...they'll just piss you off an annoy you more than's another thing to experience what exactly it is those pesky hippies are angry about. Undercover Boss is a nice start....but I'd really love to see these motherfuckers survive a week in an Indian call center! Pin It

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