We Appreciate Your Business

Thank you for calling the blank-blank-blank. All of our associates/agents/technicians are currently serving other customers. We appreciate your business. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.

In the recovery period after the Great Crash, I’ve spent quite some time on the phone with various folks, reconstructing my suite of downloaded software. I’ve spent almost as much time on hold.

We appreciate your business and apologize for the delay. Call volumes are higher than normal.

Just my luck, eh? To have a hard drive fail when higher-than-normal numbers of other failures are occurring. What are the odds of that, do you suppose?

All these companies have been in their respective businesses for quite some time. You’d think they’d be able to estimate call volumes, and the numbers of staff required to handle those volumes, pretty accurately. Maybe it’s the phase of the moon, or the influence of sun spots that’s thrown off their calculations so drastically.

Or maybe, just maybe, their calculations are of a different sort. Something more to do with how long people will wait on hold when they have no options.

We apologize for the delay. Please stay on the line to retain your spot in the line now stretching to infinity and beyond.

Well, of course, that’s just me being silly, isn’t it? The line doesn’t really stretch to infinity (or beyond) and my call is eventually answered. Eventually.

After I’ve adequately identified myself as an existing customer by reciting my name, mailing address, birth date, height, weight, and inseam length, the scripted dance begins.

How can I help you today, Isabel?

Mumble, mumble, mumble, say I, punctuated by some hand waving and eye rolling for greater clarity. Mumble, mumble. And then I stop, waiting breathlessly for their response. Am I in trouble here, or is everything going to be all right?

I can definitely help you with that.

That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? If only it weren’t something I hear every time, from every agent, in every call centre. I can see the training manual entry as clearly as if I’d written it.

Tell them you can help. Never mind what their problem is. Never mind the cost to your integrity. Do you want them to break down weeping?

Actually, maybe the Big Guy is right about nothing being all good or all bad. This Great Crash, for instance, as bad as it was, has led me to learn about and execute online backups, all while updating to this decade’s software versions. More importantly, it’s identified what is sure to be a lucrative new business opportunity for me: consulting on call centre and help desk operations.

Plagued by cranky customers? Flustered by panicked callers? No worries. I can definitely help you with that.

Just call me at my 1-800 number. But please be aware that with all this recent, completely unpredictable sunspot activity, I’m experiencing higher-than-normal call volumes. So when you get put on hold, please be patient.

Your business is very important to me. Truly.

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6 Responses to We Appreciate Your Business

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Those “please stay on the line” blurbs are only slightly less annoying than the commercials that get interspersed between the assurances that someone will be with me shortly. Shortly? That’s how I feel! What’s wrong with “soon” or is that too definitive?
    It ranks up there in the annoyance factor with those endless commercials that assure me if I call their 800 number RIGHT NOW they’ll send me TWO useless choppers/sealers/juicers for the same price as one. The script is uniform; just substitute a different product and let fly.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – But wait!! ( . . . as they say . . .) We can’t do this all day!! Well, not in the evening at prime-time advertising rates. Be thankful for small mercies, I guess. Although I do sort of wonder if my life would be better if only I had a Sham-Wow!! Many years ago I worked for a company whose CEO refused to implement voice mail because he detested systems that answered with a menu of options. (Push 1 for English . . . push 13 for Serbo-Croatian. Just listening to the options between 2 and 12 was enough to drive anyone crazy.) Managing customer interaction is certainly key to business success.

  2. Jim Robertson says:

    The “higher” than normal call is something that always gets me. It really means, as you say, they haven’t staffed to the levels required to meet the customers expectations.

    We had Rogers over the other day to check out a problem with our phone line; the techie had to call his own service centre as there was no problem here. He had no back door way in and was on hold for about 20 minutes. He mentioned that sometimes it takes up to 2 hours!!!! (turned out the problem could have been fixed two days before when I called in and sat on hold for 20 minutes – but the guy on the phone was more interested in selling me more product, rather than fixing our phone line)

    But on the good news side, my e-mail supplier (there is another term for that I forget at the moment) always answers on the first ring and stays on the line until the issue is resolved.

    Another service centre, for our wi-fi range extender, came on the line after two rings on the two occasions I called them.

    Glad you are back up…..

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – Interesting. You’d think the field guys should have a back door, but not so. If employees never feel the pain, it doesn’t get fixed. It’s like the principle of fixing staff parking shortages by eliminating all reserved spots for VIPs – once the CEO can’t find a spot, things start to happen.

  3. Some big companies “get it” — I have had several customer service departments 0n-line requests for my phone number, promising they would phone me — and they did, within seconds — Apple was one of them.

    Bell is very good. I’ve never had to wait more than 30 seconds for an “associate” — whether they could help me was another matter… an hour++ later, three different techies… in three countries… a circular repetition of unhelp and the Modem problem finally solved — defective cable. Later, a Future Shop guy just rolled his eyes when I told him. “We do that FIRST.”

    It’s the companies that you cannot contact by phone that make me mad.
    Or the Customer Service replies that say all repeat all the film-flam then suggest you contact Customer Service. Kafka rules.

    We are def. up against machines too complicated for most techies.
    If only they WERE a priesthood of competence and knowledge (delivered in slow, clear English on a good phone line), I would be happy to wait a few minutes.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, we’d like both responsiveness and competence, please. I had an odd problem with my Dell in its early days – kept losing the screen. Even though I reported the trouble message to the online guys (it wanted a new driver) they insisted it was a hardware problem and made me send it to the depot! Twice! So now I’m using a support service where, yes, they speak English that I can follow and where they seem to understand computers.

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