March 12, 2015

A Rant About Customer Service

If you don't know what my voice sounds like, I'm just going to go ahead and warn you that you might find this next post boring or ridiculous. If you do know me and my voice, and can imagine me talking with my hands, dancing about the room with play-by-play animations using myself as the prop, well... you may appreciate this rant a bit more.

I have spent the last eight years working in customer service. It is not always a job that I like, or want for that matter, and there have been days when I wish my super power was to be able to reach through a telephone and strangle the person on the other side. But never in these past years have I ever been unpleasant or rude to the person at the other end of the conversation. Never have I ever insulted the intelligence of the individual that I was talking to. I fully and truly understand the concept that the customer isn't always right. But that shouldn't give the representative the right to misbehave or fail to do their job in an appropriate manner.

I work for an agency that gets hundreds, if not thousands, of calls a day. Almost every call is in reference to a complaint and often times the consumer is totally, completely and undeniably wrong. Despite this, I was recently informed that a consumer had referred to one of our directors as a "stupid cracker" with a few expletives thrown in and I was flabbergasted that someone she'd never met would have the audacity to say something like that to her. Nevertheless I guarantee that my coworker, the lovely woman on our end of the phone, was perfectly pleasant about the whole thing. Because that is what we do here.

I have been working on a federal application on someone else's behalf and just the other day got a voice mail from a Social Security representative to tell me that the form that I had filled out and mailed was WRONG. Not only was it wrong but I SIGNED IT IN THE WRONG PLACE. AND I CANNOT SIGN IT THERE. AND I HAVE TO SIGN IT PROPERLY AND SEND IT BACK. AND WE NEED THE PERSONS SIGNATURE. AND NOW ITS GOING TO BE DELAYED. AND I AM A COMPLETE AND TOTAL MORON FOR HAVING MESSED IT UP.

Okay, I made up that last part, but the tone of the man who left the message made it very clear that this is how he felt about me.

I am an intelligent person. Prior to sending out the form, I contacted Social Security to determine that I was filling out the form appropriately and that I had the authority to do so. The person assured me that I was correct and to send the form as I had intended. So I didn't just wing it. I hardly ever do. And in addition to notifying to person via return voice mail of these facts, I also let him know that I did not appreciate his condescending tone.

Because of the nature of my work, I have learned that you can get pretty far by whining about something... so I set out to complain about him. I am unwilling to accept that because you work for a government agency that you are above the law of being a decent human being. I don't care how many calls a day you get, or that you have to deal with the public, or their mistakes and you're just SO TIRED because you know what? I'm tired too! That has never stopped me from being all warm and fuzzy on the phone.

Of course, I called the general SSA number back to get a different person on the phone to explain my plight. I started out by saying that I had left a message for the employee, but he was not available and his tone was very condescending and I needed.... and this is where she cut me off and transferred me to his voice mail a second time.

At this point, the proverbial steam was pouring out of my red-hot ears. I started furiously searching the internet for the proper authority by which to complaint about a government employee. It's not as easy as you would think. This must be why so few government employees get fired.

Luckily for the first offending representative, the fact that my phone was ringing off the hook prevented me from being able to complain about him before he called and apologized for his message. He must have said sorry about 50 times. By nature, I am a bleeding heart so it didn't take much for me to settle down. I would have appreciated this kind of effort on the front end of our relationship, however. It would have saved me at least 12 internet minutes of my life.

And I guess that is what this all comes down to. Rather than apologizing for being unpleasant, or WORSE, being unpleasant and not apologizing, it is better and easier to just be kind. It doesn't make you a better worker or more efficient or a non-bull-shitter or whatever you think it makes you to be a jerk. It just makes you an ass-hat who people will find ways to complain about. On the internet. So there, Mr. Mumblemumble-Hernadez-Mumble. Whatever your name is. ITS OUT THERE FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE. Or at least a few dozen people who occasionally read my musings.

What is ironic about this story is that I was just going to let it go - water off a duck's back, so to speak. But the final straw that ultimate caused this rant occurred this morning. In fact, it was the Dunkin' Donuts employee who waited on me in the drive up who unknowingly inflicted this whiny post on you nice people. 

As usual, I requested my regular coffee. I sit in that exact line, order the exact same coffee, and provide the proper amount of change exactly twice a week. When I pulled up to the window, she handed my the coffee and read my order back, "extra cream, two sugars". Kindly, I replied that no, ma'am, I had asked for extra cream, extra sugar. 

"No, you said two sugars."

*Blink* *Blink blink*

No, no I did not. I know how I order my coffee. And it is the same. Every. Single. Time. I even say it the same way. Do not argue with me about my order - just fix it. I asked for more sugar! It isn't complicated! You don't even have to stir it! It's not like I ordered a muffin and got up to the window and claimed that my order was actually a chocolate covered doughnut. It was still a coffee! It just needed the proper amount of ingredients!

DO THE CUSTOMER A SERVICE. JUST SMILE AND POUR IN THE APPROPRIATE AMOUNT OF GRANULAR, SUGARY FAT PELLETS, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY.

And that is exactly what I will write when I do my weekly Dunkin' Donuts location review, per their request.

XOXO

PS - I have a craft day planned with my lovely friend Kayce this weekend, and hopefully the result with be some cute how to's to share with you. Also, Matt is building me a wall-bed for my guest/craft room! So that's up and coming too. Good things on the horizon, y'all!

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