Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Of Our Agents Are Busy At The Moment

Great blog by Mike at Mike's Life. I just so know this feeling!

via Mike's Life - Life Can Get Better! by Mike on 9/30/10

I've wasted far too much of my precious time this week doing things that should have been simple, and so I'm going to rant about one of them as therapy. If you enjoy a good rant, get stuck in with me, and if you don't, maybe come back tomorrow.


I'm going to talk about my mobile telephone provider. My frustration with them was already at a certain level, because in order to get my bill each month, I have to visit their website because they can't, apparently, email it to me. Not that onerous though Mike, you say? Well, it shouldn't be, but they have changed the layout and navigation of their website every single month this year. I'm not exaggerating either, every month I have to re-learn which series of buttons I need to input in order to get my bill and therefore have the privilege of paying it! None of this is helped by the fact that I am working in my second language, but I do appreciate that is my problem and not theirs.

This month was no different - I was confronted with a snazzy new look, but when I went to get the bill all I got was an equally snazzy "Sorry, that service is not available at the moment, please try later."

So I focused on changing the bank details, and once I'd fathomed where I needed to go, I was once again confronted with the same message. Over three days, I tried and found the same problem. Clearly, the monthly website re design was more important than actually making the thing work.

And that was when I made the big mistake.

I decided to call them. The system is answered by a robot, who has been designed to take certain information from you, presumably to ensure you get through to the right department. The robot has an annoying nasal male voice and he has been programmed by the longest winded person ever born. The first message should be something like "Please key in your mobile telephone number." But that's far too simple, isn't it? The actual message is more like this: "In order to establish your identity, and to ensure that we put you through to the correct department, please use the keypad on your telephone to input the nine digits of your mobile telephone number."

Why use 7 words when 35 will do, especially when I'm paying for the call?

Each question is similarly verbose, and by the time I'd finished answering them, six minutes had elapsed. But I'd finally got to the point where the robot was telling me that "All of our agents are busy at the moment, but your call will be answered in a few minutes."




I went through the procedure again and used up a further six minutes. This time, I managed to stay in the holding pattern, like some forlorn 747 that ATC has forgotten about. For another ten minutes.

I know the short tune they play between the "All of our agents are busy." messages by heart now. In fact I woke up in the middle of last night singing it, and bathed in sweat.

But getting back to the story, I was finally through to Naira, who I just know is lovely. And she was excellent. She was helpful, and solved my problem very quickly. For the moment, the hour or so of my wasted time, spread over three days faded in the glow of her soothing tones and professionalism. I thanked her and we said goodbye.

And then the robot called me!

I recognised his voice straight away, and in his inimitable way, he said something like: "As a valued customer, your business is very important to us, and yada, yada yada.." I put the phone down.

He called me back. I binned the call. And then I realised he wouldn't give up.

The next time he called I was ready. I made a coffee, and drank it. All while he delivered his preamble. This was going to be fun. We finally got to the survey, after he'd explained in great detail how I should rate each element of service. But all he wanted to know about was what I thought of Naira. He asked nothing about himself, or the waiting time.

Distraught, and with Naira now firmly implanted in my brain as a doe eyed señorita who was working there to support her poor family, I could do nothing but score her well. After all, she had done a good job for me.

Presumably, the CEO has a report on his desk right now, telling him that 90% of customers love the new automated phone system. And I'm guessing that they're working, as I type, on an automated replacement for Naira.

What's the answer?

If you are the CEO, president or Managing Director of a company, I implore you, I beg you. Set yourself up a dummy account, and once a month, randomly, use your website and call in to your business to make some simple administrative change.

It's the only way you will ever feel the pain your clients feel, and the only way you'll ever know the truth when your customer surveys are created some some mealy mouthed little git, whose only interest is in protecting his own backside.

Can I entice you to read more stuff like this? If so, I think you'll enjoy my newsletter, which you can join by putting your name and email address into the boxes top right.

If you don't want to do that, here are three more you might enjoy:

1/ How much time do we waste booking airline tickets?

2/ Time

3/ How Twitter sent the very first Lexus back home

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