I do not understand the term "customer service" anymore, especially on the telephone. I believe that companies try to make it easier for both the customer and the employee by implementing computer generated messages, but in the end it only frustrates customers. The experience I had on the phone yesterday with a certain phone company happens more often than not. It is becoming the norm of telephone customer service.
The company in question has multiple phone numbers on their bill for their different departments. I chose the billing 800 number, which was unique from the rest of the phone numbers and dialed, only to be confronted by a computer generated message and menu structure. The computer asked me what department I wanted and gave me choices. In my mind, if I wanted any of these other departments, I would have called a different number, but ok, I'll play along and push the selection for billing questions. With my selection made, the computer then tells me that to speed up service, I should enter my telephone number, starting with the area code, of the account I have a question about. So I did, which led me to believe that when I got a customer service agent on the phone, that person would have my account up and ready to review, but that would not be the case.
After spending a short amount of time on hold, nothing to complain about, I was greeted by a person who asked me how she could help me. When I explained my query, she asked me for the phone number on the account starting with the area code. Ok, wait a minute. What happened to the computer system? I just assumed that "faster service" meant the computer would actually forward my account on to the representative. I guess not. Don't get me wrong, the representative was very friendly, and did answer my question, after asking me to verbally give my permission to review the account, twice, but if a company is going to implement a computer answering system, why not use the information it asks of the customer. It's kind of a waste of money, in my opinion, to not use it. Why not just have someone answer the phone and ask what department the caller would like. Now that would speed up service, without having to listen to a phone book's full of departments to select the one that you want.
In short this phone company has paid, I'm sure, a lot of money to help implement a customer service system. They pay for different 800 numbers for all of their departments. They pay for a computer generated answering system to help expedite the call, and prepare the customer service agent to assist the caller. Neither of these systems are used, however, and in the end the extra overhead comes, most likely, out of the pockets of the consumers in our bills, which begs one question....why?
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