The real people behind customer service

From the San Francisco Chronicle (via a mailing list I’m on):

“Every call was ‘F this,’ or ‘F that,’ ” Krishna said. “You wouldn’t believe how angry the callers got, or the language they used.”

Next time I’m on the line with tech support, I’ll have a face to go with the voice — not specifically Krishna’s or Meenakshi’s, but someone just like them. And no matter how frazzled I am, no matter how badly I want to put my fist through the computer screen, I’ll be calm and polite.

I shouldn’t have had to travel halfway around the world to discover this, but that voice on the other end of the line belongs to a real person with a real life.

I don’t know how to react to this article by SFGate Executive Travel Editor John Flinn, so I’ll let you decide. Here’s the link again.

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6 thoughts on “The real people behind customer service

  1. Yes, I’ve seen people blow their top off over tiny issues, that the person on the other end would be ready to resolve. Sometimes, it looked like people were angry at something else, but were using the unseen customer service executive.

    Sometimes, being polite isn’t very helpful either. A bank I had an account with sent me a couple of credit cards, that I’d never asked for. I had one hell of a time trying to get it canceled. I’m not sure how many others would have not used the f-word when talking on the phone. I had to struggle for more than 3 weeks to get it canceled.

  2. You’re right–sometimes it’s easier to be angry with an unseen cust. serv. rep. I think that being polite doesn’t mean that you can’t be firm and express displeasure–something that would be really helpful in such situations.

  3. I agree that being polite doesn’t mean you can’t be firm. But somtimes, I’ve noticed that people who’re rude, and aggressive have got things rolling faster than people who’ve been polite. For instance, when I had to struggle with the rep asking him politely to cancel out the card, my friend who had the same problem, called the bank up, asked them “What the hell were you thinking?”, and got it done in 2 days!

    PS: This happened 2 years back, when the RBI Regulation was not passed.

  4. Okay, this is just silly. So it was perfectly fine then if the person on the other end was an American? Or hadn’t had his family’s first love marriage? I mean, how dumb do you have to be to not know/realize that the person on the other line is a “real person”? Oooh, I went to India. I saw an Indian person. Real Indian person. I will no longer be rude. I have learned my lesson.

    Oh please.

  5. MK: I had pretty much the same reaction as you had when I first read the piece and I’m still unsure about how I feel about it. On the one hand, I want to give the writer the benefit of the doubt, on the other hand, you don’t have to go to such distance (pun unintended) to empathise with people.

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