Customer Service Truth is Stranger than Fiction

The following conversation was reported to (the customer is) Not Always Right from a telecommunications tech support agent who was setting up a work order on May 20th, one day before the predicted return of Jesus, the rapture of the saints, and the consequential end of the world:

Me: “Now, sir, I have appointments open for the 21st. Would that work at all?”

Caller: “Well, yes, we should be around, unless we get Raptured. In that case, we might want to cancel it. Or, if we don’t, we might not want to cancel it. Not sure which one is the bigger problem.”

Me: “Sir, I do assure you we are well prepared for either eventuality–return of Christ or not. Now, barring Rapture, I have a 1 – 3 pm and 3 – 5 pm. Which would you’d prefer?”

Caller: “1 – 3 pm. If we don’t get Raptured, we want time for looting.”

Giving Them a Taste of Their Own Medicine

Admit it. You’ve been so angry with a company’s poor customer service that you’ve used your time on hold to creatively design schemes that would make the suits at that company understand what it’s like to endure their own abyssmal service. A european television show put one of those schemes into reality. This YouTube video is a great source for a laugh on a Monday morning. Enjoy!

While we’re at it. What company do you wish you could have done this to?

The Perils of Making Everyone Happy

Old_muleI recently worked with a call center Quality Manager who is an interesting case study in management. I observed this person criticize their own quality program to front-line agents, wanting the agents to be happy and wanting to present an "on your side" attitude. The same person then talked about the importance of the same quality program in meetings with upper management wanting to please their superiors and present an "on your side" attitude. From what I heard and observed, I don’t think the customer factors into this managers priorities at all, but I’m sure if they spoke with the customer they would talk about all the work they are doing in the quality program to make sure the customer is happy and to present an "on your side" attitude.

The bottom line is that this manager wants everyone to be happy. Their quality program is an ineffective mess, and the whole situations reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago…

A man and his son lived in the mountains with their mule, named Hiney. One day they headed to town, walking down the road and leading the mule behind them. As they passed a couple sitting on their porch, the man overheard the woman say to her husband, "Isn’t that stupid! One of them could be riding that mule instead of walking!" The old man didn’t want to be thought of as stupid, so he climbed up on the mule.

Further down the road, they passed a couple of women chatting by their mail boxes. The man heard one of the women whisper, "Look at that mean old man riding that mule while he makes that poor little boy walk!" The man didn’t want to be thought of as mean, so he got off the mule and put his son on the mule’s back.

A while later they passed two men playing checkers on their porch. "Look at that disrespectful boy," one of the men said. "He’s riding that mule while making his elderly father walk." The man didn’t want his son to be thought of as disrespectful, so he climbed onto the mule’s back with his son and they began to ride together.

A mile later they passed the veterinarian’s clinic where a couple of women were standing with their pets. "How absolutely mean!" one of the women could be overheard saying. "That man and his son are going to work that poor ol’ mule to death riding together like that!"

The man did not want people to think he was mean to animals, so he and his son got off the mule, picked it up and began carrying it down the road. As they were crossing a bridge, they lost their balance and dropped the mule over the railing. The mule plunged to its death.

The end.

The moral of the story: If you try to please everyone you’ll lose your Hiney.

Sometimes QA Drives Stupid Behaviors

Hertz_shuttleI arrived at the airport tonight on a late flight. I took the Hertz shuttle to pick up my car. There was no one on the shuttle but me. So, I sat up front by the driver who was a very nice man named Clayton. I gave him my name; we discussed where I was coming from and where I was going. He gave me detailed directions to where I was going. We had a nice conversation.

A few moments later, the Clayton pulled down the bus microphone and through the overhead speakers announced, "My name is Clayton. It’s been a pleasure driving you tonight. Thanks again for choosing Hertz."


It then struck me that somewhere along the way there was probably a Hertz QA checklist that requires drivers to do the "courtesy announcement" on each trip as they enter the lot – even if there’s no one on the bus. In fact, he probably thought I was a QA analyst checking to see if he’d do his announcement. Come on, I’m the only one on the bus. Thank me for choosing Hertz, but do it conversationally to me just like we’ve been talking for the past minute.

I’ve encountered the same thing in call centers. There are QA teams who require CSRs to tag the call, thank the caller by name and offer to help with other needs – EVEN IF THE CUSTOMER HAS ALREADY HUNG UP! Say all the required elements to a dead line or you don’t get the points on your QA form (yeah, talking to a dead line – THAT really helps the ol’ ACT metric!).

I’m a firm believer in consistency. I wholeheartedly support CSRs who are asked to frame a call by delivering the same service elements and the same level of service on every call. I’m not in favor of using QA to drive illogical, unreasonable and just plain stupid behavior.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and JasonJT

A Laugh from the Call Center for Today

Bigstockphoto_bad_call_817509 A while back I was led to a hilarious site by Ann Onimous. I was going to pass it along, but it got stuck in the "to-post" file. Then today I was reading a great blog written by a Call Center CSR that was referenced by Jam Mayer over at Call Center Script and it reminded me…

The Chronicles of George is a site in which a frustrated Tech Support Rep chronicles the help desk tickets of a co-worker who is "the worst helpdesk technician ever".

If you haven’t seen this one before – it’s got plenty of laughs to share with your team!