So, this is my life.

And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

neither desired nor required

my friend Taylor and i recently discussed how we, and the people we know, deal with customer service reps. i think that a person's true colors show through when he or she is on the telephone with a stubborn or unhelpful CSR.

some people, like my mother and my roommate, get angry and raise their voices. other people hate to argue and are in danger of giving in to a firmer tone coming through the speaker. those people who can't stand their ground are the ones who later write letters and try to resolve a dispute or mistake through time-consuming correspondence.

as for Tay and i, we came to the conclusion that we employ similar strategies when facing a frustrating customer service situation: an even volume level, a calm but firm tone, and a sense of logic that CSRs can rarely comprehend. we both report a high rate of success using these tactics; however, a good track record isn't enough to alleviate the tension i feel every time i have to pick up my phone and dial a dreaded 800 number.

after listening to my friend Liam's furniture delivery woes (now ongoing for almost 3 months, thanks to West Elm) last night over a few beers, i was especially worked up this morning as i called to cancel my Men's Health subscription.*

*a quick aside: it has taken me 3 years to realize that i receive the exact same magazine, merely reorganized and covered with a new stud, every single month. instead of continuing to pay for Men's Health, my new plan is that at the beginning of each month, when i would normally receive the most recent installment, i'll simply pick up a back issue that i've saved and try to re-inspire myself to get that rippling 6-pack i've been promised for years.

at any rate, this morning i prepared myself for another frustrating interaction with the MH Customer Service. we go way back.

i dial the number. *gulp* i start out with the expected voice-recognition technology, to which i give my account number and some other info. i wait to be passed on to a live CSR. *fingers tapping on desk* i answer a few more questions from the robotwoman. *always such a nice voice. do humans get paid to record these questions and prompts?*
now she wants to know why i'm calling? *oh lord, what words do i need to use to just talk to the human?* she actually understands my use of the word "cancellation." *wait... is this really happening?* the robotwoman is canceling my subscription.
she asks two more questions and then checks to make sure that i've gotten all i need. *can it be?* i tell her good-bye. *is it that easy???* she says cheerily, "good-bye!"
*that.... was..... AWEsome.*

my interaction with the robotwoman CSR has renewed my faith in all customer service. once just a dream, my wish to never again deal with a check-out boy at the grocery store or a bank teller or especially a frustrating rep over the telephone is now even closer to becoming reality! human interaction will soon be a thing of the past. not desired nor, for much longer, required.

in the midst of my excitement, though, it occurred to me that perhaps the helpful robotwoman and her peers, such as the self-checkout machine at the grocery store, are partly to blame for 13 million of us currently being unemployed. hmph.


Laurie said...

You should check your bank statement next month and see if your account was actually canceled. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but this crap happened to me. I had tried to cancel my account and after much haranguing, hang ups and getting passed from person to person, I was told I had to make my magazine cancellation request in writing. Yes. In writing. It was a nightmare.

T. said...

Can't you do cancellations now via the Internet?

With a simple *click*...

Taylor said...

YES. I am glad you didn't have to employ the ever-effective "calm, firm, logic" trifecta. It's good, but it does raise the blood pressure. Victory!

The only problem with robots, though, is that when they don't make sense, you can't convince them otherwise. And you know how much fun it is convincing people that you're right.