The interrogative customer service experience

Have you noticed this?

Next time you call in for customer service, you will probably be asked to have a conversation with a disembodied voice recognition system. It may even refuse to help you unless you have that conversation. The days of being given a list of numbers to push may be passing, and I at least will lament them. I’m not interested in discussions with robots, but I will follow my way through a numbered menu.

When you do reach a human being, observe this: how long are you interrogated before the person gets around to asking the reason for your call? I find this trend amazing. For all they know, I might just want the company’s mailing address, which certainly doesn’t require them to validate my identity. And yet it’s the same machinegun barrage every time, just automatic, and we put up with it.

We are the customers. We call in. First our vendors expect us to tell our troubles to a robot. Then, reading from scripts, they expect us to answer a ton of questions before they will answer a single one. It isn’t the representatives’ fault, of course; it is how they are trained. But it is affecting my business decisions, because this isn’t all right. This is like being a suspect in a police investigation, where your questions are not wanted, and where you are the one expected to be answering the questions.

Why do we take it in silent acquiescence? Why do we let cable and insurance representatives treat us like the police treat suspects?

We are a supine people.

I’m not taking it in silent acquiescence any more. If that’s just “their policy,” then fine. I also have policies, and I have every bit as much right to set policies as any corporation. My policy is that I would rather pay more to a vendor that does not expect me to have conversations with disembodied voices, and that answers the phone by introducing itself and asking why I’m calling today, or how it can help. And if they don’t like it, tough, “that’s just my policy, ma’am.”

I don’t think Warren Buffett realizes how far from his ideals Geico has fallen, but pretty soon I won’t be needing my BRK.B shareholder discount any more.

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