Patience is a virtue when it comes to customer service
Published 09/19/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 09/16/2013 01:06 PM
A few minutes ago I got off the phone with a very nice lady named Michelle at the Social Security call center in Baltimore. I know it was Baltimore because I asked. I like talking to Americans when I have a problem, frankly I like talking to anyone if I can understand them, especially if their aim is to provide service to this customer.
I once had a nice conversation with a guy named Rich at a call center in Texas. I can't remember why I was calling him, to me cable, utilities, government services and Peapod all sound the same. All I know is that I could barely understand a word that sweet Texan was saying. I told him I'd call back. I never did.
Because the wait time was over 45 minutes, Michelle, the Social Security agent, was calling me via the Social Security call-back service. I needed her to explain my Medicare status. Yeah, scary, I qualify now. Let me be clear here, if you want an example of government bureaucracy at its finest, just try using Social Security's automated phone system. It has a menu of options twice the length of a Ruby Tuesday's menu; you don't get garlic biscuits while you wait either. Michelle was helpful sort-of. I have to call back in two weeks because she didn't have an answer.
A few months ago my husband and I were getting phone calls originating from Vermont asking that we answer health questions for a survey sponsored by the state of Connecticut. If the state of Connecticut needs health questions answered by its citizens then why don't they have Connecticut citizens asking the questions? I'm sure they can find a few unemployed college students with cellphones and free time that would love to call. I'm not college-age, but pay me and I'll call, I'm great at being nosey.
Years ago when we were setting up a computer for the first time we had to call the company's help desk.
Let me tell you, help desk is a misnomer.
The wait was an hour. No call-back service from them. My husband held the phone to his ear until someone finally came on. He handed the phone to me, I asked the question. The operator guy said he knew what the problem was and he could solve it promptly, but that he was not allowed to answer because his job at that moment was to route incoming calls to the correct departments. One of those departments was actually his, when there was lower call volume.
"Please answer, we've been waiting an hour on the phone."
He said he'd lose his job because all phone calls were being monitored for training purposes. I handed the phone to my husband. The call got rerouted. Twenty minutes later guess who picked up? In less time than it took him earlier to explain why he couldn't answer, he answered, problem solved. I think his name was Rich and he probably works for Social Security in Baltimore now.
EMAIL CAROLYNN PIANTA AT CP.ENOUGHSAID@AOL.COM