Customer Service

On occasion, something taps such resonance that it plumbs both the experiential and the sense of humor.  Recently, Mallard Fillmore has found that place.  Now, Mr. Tinsley, the writer of Mallard Fillmore since 1991 lives in a place to the right of my own political persuasion but on the issue of customer service I believe that all of America over a certain age can remember a time when:

1.  Dialing a business phone resulted in a real, live person answering at the other end with a voice that at least topically indicated that they were alive and would seek to help you with the reason for your call.

2.  If by some chance the call required knowledge the answerer did not possess, they sought the answer without sending you through another 15 locations while you grew in frustration still with no resolve. 

Two of Mr. Tinsley’s most recent submissions dealt with how things are now.  In review, a call is made to a business. After more than a few rings hope rises in our souls as the phone appears to be answered only to be dashed as the outgoing message announces begins very much like this:

We appreciate your call.  We are experiencing a “higher than normal call volume” and this may delay our response.  The approximate wait time is ____.
If you would like to leave your number, one of our representatives will return your call.

The deconstruct: The level of appreciation of your call is dubious.  Higher than normal call volume?  Well, when this is the 4th or 5th call of this kind you have made in an attempt to actually speak to a person. It would indicate that “higher than normal” appears to occur with more regularity than that which is dubbed “normal.”  Logically, if the appreciation of your call has not driven a more effective solution than the continual use of this outgoing message, it would follow that the likelihood of anyone being called by a representative after leaving a number would require pathological optimism.

I have often wondered while listening to my husband work through the telephone tree of various companies….Dell, Hewlett Packard and more in his valiant & largely vain attempts to fix some equipment problem associated with running our inn how much productive time in businesses all across our nation is wasted in the pursuit of a real live human capable of rendering assistance.  I assure you, it is considerable.  There are days that are dedicated to “getting assistance” and in a small operation the impact of this is immeasurable.  This due not only to the time involved in the pursuit but also the degree of frustration, disbelief and anger that inevitably accompanies this. 

Mallard Fillmore Number 2 on this issue prompted this blog.  Again resonance, so often elusive- found.  The cartoon idea, finding Mallard on the phone again waiting for the always elusive customer service is meandering through his head that …if you would like to speak to their customer service representative…It is more than likely that you have never had this experience before.
Another truism.
Once locating a  live human (which is a considerable feat)…It is more than likely that: 1.  This human is the wrong department.  2.  The wrong aspect of their company but no worries…they will now transfer you to the RIGHT ONE. Of course, this requires another 40 years to interface with another live human. 
3. This waiting problem is daunting to be sure but also likely not something  you will have to suffer through at this moment anyway.  It is far  more likely you will be entirely disconnected.  I could go on and on but all of us have been there so that is unnecessary.

It has been said that in the political climate in which we exist commonality is not possible.  Not so, I say.  Certain experiences are so universal that they sound our souls.  If Mr. Tinsley and I can find a place of mutual understanding…I can only believe there is hope.  Congratulations Mr. Tinsley of Mallard Fillmore fame…You have brought hope to the  bridging of the political chasm with the “every humans experience” related in this cartoon and I know the rest of America feels the same.  

Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers 

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