November 14th, 2011

Customer Service Help Desks

I am getting very tired of help lines that are not helpful. The latest offender is, believe it or not, Apple.
I ordered an item off their website, but somehow missed arranging for expedited shipping. First off, this is something I should have been able to fix online. But when I tried, a window popped up telling me to call the help line to change my shipping instructions.
Let me just say that the automated system that greets you is bloody brilliant. It was more like talking to a real person than the real person was.
The real person came on and repeated my order number back to me. I told her I had messed up placing the order and had wanted to expedite the shipping instead of keeping the standard. She asked for my name.
Now, I ask you, why on God’s green earth would not the order number bring up my name? Surely it would. Therefore this is merely a question to be certain that I have not screwed up the order number and am about to adjust someone else’s shipping. Okay, I get that. So why not just ask me if my name is Cassandra Chan? This is how regular people talk to each other.
Now I get put on “a brief one to two minute hold” while she brings up my order on her computer. If it’s not there, then how the hell is she verifying my name? And if all her software has given her is the order number & my name, then somebody has been writing some really crummy software.
She returns. She wants to know my address. So apparently just checking my order number and name was not enough. We also want to check my address, just in case I am phishing somebody else’s order. Well, if I have the order number and the name it goes with and yet am not legitimate, then wouldn’t I also have the address? Good grief.
All right, now we’re down to brass tacks, i.e., getting me expedited shipping. I know, from having tried to do this on the website, that I have three possibilities: 1) Overnight (I know I probably can’t afford that), 2) 2-day shipping, or 3) 2-3 day shipping. They didn’t tell me how much any of it would be, so I am expecting to go over the rates. Instead I get put on another “brief one to two minute hold” (this one lasted longer), at which point she comes back and tells me she’s taken care of it. WTF? I ask how much extra it is. I get put back on hold. She comes back and tells me it’s now 2-3 business days at no charge.
Well, I can’t argue with that. I thank her very much and hang up on the rest of her script. I may have fixed the problem, but I am still aggravated. Why on earth cannot companies understand that hemming in their employees with scripts only annoys their customers? They end up making the person on the other end of the phone feel as if the customer service rep isn’t really listening to them or responding to what they’re saying. It also makes for a very awkward conversation when one of the people has to constantly interject corporate-speak into it.
On top of that, there is no reason your rep should have to put a customer on hold unless there’s a problem or a higher authority needs to be appealed to. Instructing your reps to say “a brief one to two minute hold” does not alleviate this problem. It just makes it obvious that the company is aware of the problem and has decided to ignore it.
I suppose all this does make it possible for companies to hire people who really suck at customer service. Not that I’m accusing the woman I spoke to today of that—she wasn’t given the opportunity to demonstrate to me whether she was good at it or not.