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Daniel Escasa

Technologist. Writer and editor. Shakespearean actor.

Customers’ theme song: I can’t get no satisfaction

“The spell’s still not working,” sighed the young novice as she ran a slender finger along the scroll.

She had already summoned the Keeper of the Ring and, while amiable and pleasant, he was as lost as she was.

In her mother’s time, he was more helpful, albeit alternating between a mite grumpy and playfully condescending.

Maybe time, along with the realization of his diminished skills, has mellowed him.

Still, she had little choice so…


“Thank you for calling WebSpell technical support, how can Joe help you?”

“(So he refers to himself in the third person now, does he?) Yes, I’m calling about ticket number 2383239. I’ve already sacrificed a chicken and cooked its entrails in virgin coconut oil but still can’t save my ‘new’ word. I save it, then next time I try to use your Web-based spell checker, it still flags it as unknown and I have to save it again.”

“Ah yes, ma’am, please hold on one moment.”

“(Ugh, he would put on My Heart Will Go On. Neil Young’s Helpless or the Rolling Stones’ I Can’t Get No Satisfaction would’ve been more appropriate… And at least he didn’t ask me if it was plugged in.)”

“Sorry to keep you waiting. Ma’am, regarding this one, our developers are still working on it and should have the patch ready in a few days.”

“(You don’t really know the status, do you?) That’s what you told me last week. I wouldn’t be calling again if you said it’d be ready in a month but my idea of ‘a few days’ is three days or less.”

“Yes ma’am, we apologize for the inconvenience. May I suggest that you keep your Web browser open until we can figure this out? I’m afraid that’s the best we can do for now.”

“OK, I guess I don’t have much choice,” she sighs.

Now you know why I hate calling technical support — not for the contact center agents themselves, since they’re all been courteous, patient, and helpful within the limitations that are in my opinion on the companies they represent.

For instance: The other year, I tried to pay our MERALCO bill through my bank’s Web interface. For some reason, my browser was taking about 15 seconds to load every Web page I fed it.

The supposed threshold for a Web page to load is about five seconds, and any slower and the visitor will give up. But I digress.

So, I went to my bank’s ATM and, as I was entering the 21-digit customer code, I noticed a line forming behind me. That meant I had to rush a mite.

When I got home, I realized that, in my haste, I had entered the wrong customer code. So I paid again, this time through my bank’s Internet site — which, thankfully, was loading more quickly this time. And I had more time to check my customer code.

But what about my previous transaction? I had to have that undone, so the amount would go back to my account.

Long story short, I called customer support to request a reversal of the payment with the erroneous customer code, and everyone I talked to had no idea what was happening.

After almost four weeks of follow-ups — some of which tested my patience (my poor computer table can tell you all about it), and therefore the patience of customer support — I got our next electrical bill.

What do you know, my bank credited both payments to MERALCO — despite my entering the wrong customer code the first time around.

So why didn’t the customer support agents who took my calls know about this?

How hard would it have been to record both transactions and make the Customer Support Agents (CSA) aware of them?

I swear, I came this close to closing my account. But I know that other banks wouldn’t be much better, if at all.

To illustrate: As I was writing this, my brother was calling his bank, asking about a replacement ATM card that he requested five banking days ago that was supposed to be ready in three. Again, customer support didn’t know the status of his new card.

For that matter, if we go by posts on Facebook, the customer support of many companies across various industries would rate a failing mark.

And we’re supposed to be the call center capital of the world.

Does that mean that we’re getting the B-team, and letting the A-team handle international customer support? Or they’re getting B-grade tools? But shouldn’t they be getting the same tools?

That’s a lot like the cobbler’s children having no shoes.

Granted, the issues that the customers raised may have been extreme, like mine. How many people would enter a wrong customer code at the ATM, then pay the same bill through the Internet?

Still, this calls for a survey of satisfaction with customer support, so companies can improve their services.

In the meantime, be patient with your CSA — he’s not being paid enough to be the voice for a company that can’t provide support to their CSAs. And don’t bother switching, because you may find yourself longing for the previous provider.

Note: To give you some idea of how bad some customer service can be, check out this complaint letter.
This post originally appeared in newsbytes.ph.

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