Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Customer Disservice

What is it with automated customer service?  It costs a bundle, barely more than humans' wages and barely works.  What's with the, "Did you know you could go online and do (such and such)?"  Yeah, I know that.  It's obvious your web-designers were overpaid because their coding they "borrowed" from stinks.  These coders also lack vision or skill, and your company was gay enough to actually pay them to steal code and it doesn't work, their search-engine routine borrowed form AltaVista circa 1999.

So eventually we get to the infamous, "Contact Us" link.  Sometimes clicking it brings you to an ante-room pre-page indicating, "Hey, we spent way too much money on unoriginal programmers who steal other bad code who don't even have the class enough to change the variable names because they're inept at coding in the first place and voted Obama and want their free stuff and think they're clever so would you like to read our FAQ first?  We'd rather you not call us."  After bypassing that, because yes, I read your pathetic FAQ, you get a nice 1-800 style number.

Upon dialing you're always presented with a sad, fake-sounding, impersonal pre-recorded greeting that grates on the nerves because you know who you called and you just want to get something fixed that their company screwed-up.  After enduring sometimes up to a full minute of greetings and, "Did you know you can go ONLINE and.. " ugh.. You get to a menu.

I don't mind phone-button menus, though I'm annoyed with the "Para Espaniol numero nuevo" part that's slow and delayed, and allows a 10 second gap for the reh'tards.  So you get by the first wave of menu options and into a second, and sometimes a third.  What really irks me is the "I'm listening now.  Please say what you'd like." Voice-activated menus.  Verbal menus are still infantile in technology and are purposely made to make the caller give-up.  If a company can get you to go away, they win.  Sometimes the voice-options are hidden behind dial button options.  When the robot says things like, "You can.. make a payment, hear your balance or.. more options.  I'm listening now."  You can sometimes press 1 or 2 or whatever on your phone to not have to repeat yourself ad infinatum.  It's not hard to speak without an accent.  I can sound like I'm from Ohio just like anyone else despite my Boston, Colorado fusion-accent.  Usually, however, you cannot press a button, so you have to guess what might be a good response.  Encoded is rarely what you need, and often "Speak to a representative" is not an option until you go deep into several "More Options" menus.

Eventually you graduate to the "Speak to a representative" option because all the menu options are already online anyway, and yes I've been to your website and have it so memorized I know the bugs in the Java script coding because you got it from such-and-such a website and it's easy to exploit and would you like me to fix it for you for half the price you paid your lousy web designer from Russia?

Unfortunately, the "Speak to a representative" option takes you 'round the world to India.  Now, I have nothing against India.  The girls are all pretty attractive and the men are pleasant and polite enough, though they all seem to seethe the scent of curry powder (they say we smell like cheddar cheese, I guess it's why we're called Yankees worldwide.)  You always talk to some guy named "George" or "John" when it's really "Himanshu Patel" or some such alien name.  It's their job to get you off the phone.  Sometimes they use passive-aggressive behavior, such as having you put on-hold and then disconnecting you.  Uh-huh.  Suuuure.  NEVER let them do that.  NEVER be put on-hold or you'll likely have to start over from square negative zero.  There's the annoying language barrier that you have to decipher a bit (though they do quite a fine job if you think about it, speaking English and dealing with Southerners and what not, all the American dialects).

Ultimately, they can't help you.  Ever.  They just re-iterate what you see on their website.  Speaking to a supervisor usually leads to hang-ups.  Once in a great while they'll transfer you BACK to the good old US of A and you can make some headway.. sometimes.. rarely.

All that effort, all that money outsourced to India and Russian programmers and they could have saved millions by hiring 3 smart kids with some computer skills and good patients with customers here in the USA who know better than to read a script, ".. so is your computer power turned on?"

Wake-up, companies.  You're drowning, and a good part of it is your customer disservice.

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