What the World Needs Now is Phenomenal Customer Service

What the world needs now is phenomenal customer service.

Of course, this implies we have customer service to begin with. Scratch that. What the World Needs Now is ANY Customer Service. With the increase of personal debt, the need has never been greater.

Recently, I helped my mother with her creditors in a proactive effort to handle her debt. My mother had suffered a fall and subsequent delusions, so I gladly stepped in. Even though I was somewhat removed from her financial situation since it was not my debt, the process of actually talking to someone was emotionally exhausting.

As I made phone call after phone call, I thought to myself, we spend some of life’s most miserable moments waiting to talk to a human on the other end of the line. We go through endless prompts, punching in numbers, the sixteen-digit account number, the last four social, zip code, phone number, address, etc,…only to repeat the exact set of information to a live human after an often agonizing wait. Why? Why do we this?

It’s to break us down, to make us feel powerless. That’s why.

I know it’s for security purposes, but there must be a better way. Shouldn’t all this technology eliminate steps, not add them, and make the process more efficient? Ha!

It didn’t used to be this way. Remember when you could simply dial and talk to a live person? For those of you who have never experienced this, it’s a real thing that used to happen. A problem could be handled swiftly. They would ask for your name first, not a number.

They certainly wouldn’t question you if you wanted to cancel something. I mistakenly got cable a few months back. I was swindled. This lady kept me on the line, talked my head off, promised me several “gift cards,” so the cost of signing up was nil; it would all balance out. I broke, I agreed. Of course, in the end, the ONE CHANNEL I wanted was NOT in my package.

After cashing in the gifts, I put in an email to cancel. They charged us for the next month anyway. Apparently, the way it works is that you need to give a verbal cancel to process the electronic cancel. I couldn’t talk to anyone again, so my loving husband assumed the task of canceling, which took over an hour. I felt truly terrible. It was all my fault!

I wouldn’t be surprised if wedding vows soon incorporate a non-cable clause:

Do you solemnly swear to never subscribe to cable for so long as you both shall live?

I do.

Somehow, wanting to go back to the simple phone call with a human feels like I’m balking the progress of technology. It seems to be written in the stars that we will have a relationship with robots. Science fiction promises we will, and most everything in sci-fi comes true, right? I’m all for sci-fi dreams coming true via Star Trek:

Computer: Fix me a roast beef sandwich and delete all my email messages.

It seems we wouldn’t be too far from that email request, but the one big hurdle for robots seems to be intelligence. I listened to a NPR interview recently where I learned that a robot is really not bright enough to differentiate trash from critical information. Thus, the menial task of cleaning a desk is an impossible request for a robot.

Siri, my lovely, seems to be unavailable when I need her most. She’s “unable to take requests right now.” Really? Is she doing her nails? Talking to SKYNET, hmm?

In the meantime, I know that I don’t like talking to the tinny voice of a robot calling and pretending he’s human. Do you know this call? I hang up immediately, thinking I’m not talking to this voice that makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Seeing all the robots join forces at Amazon for the big holiday rush ($775 million dollars worth of robots) makes me shudder. Just a bit.

Kiva robots ready and waiting. Photo source: Business Insider
Kiva robots ready and waiting. Photo source: Business Insider


Photo Credit: Brandon Bailey/AP
Robots at work. Photo Credit: Brandon Bailey/AP

Does this make me anti-technology? Is the gap of humans coexisting with robots too preliminary to even care. They’re not very smart. Yet. Personally, I think we should keep it that way. Even Stephen Hawking, one of our finest minds, voices caution. You know, the singularity is near.

But this begs the question, how stupid is useless? It’s a conundrum. If they are too stupid, we have no need for them.

We could have lots of jobs in customer service, bring them all back. There could be the possibility of service with a smile on the other end of the line. The possibility at least.

I know one thing. If Amazon sends you the wrong gift this holiday season, it could be the robot’s fault.

photo credit: plαdys via photopin cc


When Money Floats: Answer Revealed

I know you all are on the edge of your seat at this moment, blogging friends, as I am now about to reveal the answer to the question I put forth in yesterday’s post, When Money Floats.

What did I do with the five bucks I found on the floor at the grocery store? Did I:

– Give the money to the hungry employee?
– Wander around the store in search of someone who looks like he/she is missing money?
– Give it to someone else who needs it?
– Turn it in to customer service?
– Buy gelato for myself?

Drum roll please…

This how it played out:
I went directly to customer service and turned in the money! I’ll admit Blue Eyes ignited a bit of guilt.

The store employee didn’t so much as look up to even acknowledge me. My good deed wasn’t even enough to interrupt her work.

Half a second later, the hungry employee walked right past me. So, while I felt I did the “right” thing, it didn’t feel right.

The next day, I returned to the store. Oh yeah, I bought me some gelato all right!

The funny thing is I told Blue Eyes I turned in the money when we were both checking out. He told me he was going to go to customer service and tell them he was missing five bucks! I said to him that my lips were sealed, but he didn’t go.

Several of you, know me all too well and guessed correctly. I went directly to customer service. (Anka, Carrie, Leah, Shalagh) And, many of you just knew I’d find a way to get that gelato. (Audra, Cathy, Frank, Jackie, Miss Four Eyes).

Thanks to all who stopped by, played along and/or shared their stories. I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends here. I loved all your stories and comments. I love you, love you….I’m having a moment now.

I asked my kids what they would do. Keep it and buy something…Duh!

When Money Floats

Every now and then, karma blows favorably in my direction. Once when I was swimming in the ocean, I spied money glistening in the sun, bobbing towards me. Twenty bucks landed in the palm of my hand. Yeah, that’s how it happened. Doubtful anyone would attempt to reclaim the cash, I accepted it as a gift. My lucky day. I was a kid, and I thought I had won the lottery.

It’s not everyday someone gives you twenty bucks. How do you think that would go over if someone decided to slap a twenty in your hand? First, you would probably hesitate, consider it, especially if you happen to really need it, but then you would probably outright reject it. No, I can’t. Even though twenty bucks doesn’t get too much these days, it still might seem a generous amount to receive and not pay back. If you do need it, you may not want to seem like a charity case. Of course, everything changes if your life depends on it. I’m not making light of that.

But what about a five spot? The other night, I noticed a five dollar bill on the grocery store floor. Hmm. Oh, money! I paused, and then picked it up. I couldn’t really ignore it. What if the guy who just passed me dropped it?

So, did he? I asked him.

“Did you drop five bucks?” I immediately tuned in to his tranquil, blue eyes.

With a smile, he laughed. “No. It wasn’t me.”

I was a bit disappointed, because the mystery of what to do with the five bucks was still in my domain. I almost wanted to just give him the money.

“What do you think I should do with it?” I asked him.

“You could return it to customer service,” he nodded in the general direction. “Or…you could keep it,” he whispered.

“I didn’t ask for options,” I mumbled and laughed, and walked toward the direction he indicated. Then I stopped in my tracks and analyzed the situation.

I could buy the gelato that was $4.99 that I passed on. Was this a sign? The Mediterranean Mint was calling my name. It could be extra gas money. I could give it to the store employee who once confided in me that she was hungry, and was even denied Rotisserie chicken, that on account of law, was thrown away on the premises even though it could have been good eats, for her specifically. Would she be offended if I offered it to her?

What if someone is wandering around in the store and is really missing the five bucks? What if his/her dinner depended upon it? I could wander the aisles looking for a person rummaging through his/her pockets. If I don’t find this person, I’m sure I could simply give the money to someone who needs it more than me. The free, lost money needs a home.

Or…I could turn it in at customer service.

My Libra mind disintegrates when faced with endless possibilities. Later at the register, blue eyes looked in my direction. “What did you do?” he asked.

So, what did I do? How do you think this played out? Want to take a guess? Do you think I have regrets?

Did I turn the money in to customer service? Did I track down the hungry employee? Buy gelato?

What would you do? Have you ever happened upon some mystery money?

photo credit: owlpacino via photopin cc

Ode to Dell

Technology, you are not my friend today
Built-in obsolescence made in a land faraway
It is their grand plan
The twenty-first century scam

You need a new hard drive, you say
It will last a warranty and a day
Replacement number two, now three
Request a restore disc for a nominal fee

Dell, for all your lightening-speed computing
It’s your customer service that needs rebooting
On the phone 58 minutes, 4 employees, dropped calls 3
All for a restore disc? You got to be kidding me

Your mind-numbing musak infiltrates my nightmare
To do it online with my computer impaired
Dell, oh Dell
You’ve made my life hell

photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page via photopin cc