Yep! It’s gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Now listen, children, as we discuss a strange phenomenon that existed many years ago. It’s not exactly extinct, but it’s so rare today, most people haven’t ever experienced it, save for those of us who are…um…old.
I’m talking about “customer service” which, by definition, is the support a company offers their customers. Support both before, during, and after one purchases a product, which makes being a customer, well, nice.
Once upon a time, kind workers hurried to assist shoppers with their acquisitions and if you called on the phone an actual person – who was generally very sweet – would work hard to help a buyer overcome any problems or concerns.
But somewhere along the way, customer service went the way of the dinosaurs.
“Excuse me sir,” I said holding out a bill that I’d received from AT&T. “I was accidentally charged for two cellphones instead of one, so my bill is double what it should be.” I smiled sweetly.
A long time later, while I watched the gentleman poke his tablet, he threw up his arms. “I can’t help you.”
I then requested to see the manager.
“I’m very busy right now,” the young woman said in a huff. “I will get to your problem tonight after five. I’ll call you.”
Think about it. When was the last time you felt like a company cared about your satisfaction?
Though my first thought was to mention that there seemed to be no unattended customers in the store, I acquiesced. That evening, I waited. No call. So, I returned the next day and the whole scenario replayed itself. I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I smiled. “You didn’t call me,” I said in my most honeyed voice.
“Yes, well…” she sputtered. “I’ll get to it later.”
I am loath to admit that the not-so-nice version of me began leaking out. “I think you should sit down and we can take care of it now.”
She stared around the room, as if looking for cover. Then, to my surprise, she sat. Still, the outcome was not what I expected. After fussing with her tablet, she called over the first guy I’d dealt with and insisted he would fix the problem. Then she promptly disappeared. I’m not sure what she thought had changed from his inability to help me the day before, still I found myself facing him again.
Finally, with my day slipping by, he stared at me. “You should call AT&T’s customer service line.”
“I don’t want to wait on hold. Couldn’t you call for me?” I folded my hands and batted my eyes.
Now, I’m not the type to get loud or angry in public. After all, I was a sports official for 40 years and, in that capacity, I wasn’t allowed to lose my cool. Still, when I stood and followed him to a payment kiosk, he barked. “You stay six feet away from me!”
I squinted. I was doing my social-distancing due diligence. Did he think I – a little, 65-year-old woman – might kick his ass. (Yes, it occurred to me, but I promise you I did nothing untoward.)
Soon thereafter, my sweetie pie and I were searching the isles at Home Depot. He asked one of the employees for help and the man shouted, “I’m having a bad day!” After which, he threw his clipboard and stalked away, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Then, one of our favorite restaurants, which we have patronized for years, gave us poorly done take-out and refused to replace it. And I can’t count the hours I spent on hold with Amazon and Social Security and Medicare and Cox Cable, often not connecting with a single human being and getting little or no satisfaction in regard to the issues I called about. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I’ll connect you with someone who can.” Then click, you’re disconnected after waiting on hold for half an hour and you’re forced to begin the whole dreary process again.
Here’s the thing. All of this pretty much happened in the same couple of weeks.
So, the question is, why are we, the customers, being treated so badly? Companies are shunting their customer service responsibilities as they hide behind technology. “Please listen to this recording as our options have changed.” “Please go to our website.” “We are experiencing very long wait times, so call back later.”
Imagine the joy if you got to speak with a real person who actually solved your problem in a reasonable amount of time.
What can we do? Not much probably, though it would be nice to see a website that listed corporations according to their customer-service amenities. Just think, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to choose companies with which to do business according to their efforts on our behalf? Imagine the joy if a real person answered our call promptly, sincerely listened to our complaint, and kindly rectified the issue in a reasonable amount of time.
Sadly, that probably isn’t much more feasible than bringing the dinosaurs back to life.
Still, a girl can dream.
Here’s a brief intro to my latest women’s fiction novel for your reading pleasure.
A reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician and discovers that black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.
When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.