Creating the Illusion of Customer Service…

I try to be nice to customer service reps – I’ve had that job before and I know that it sucks, but I still have little patience for those who don’t even try to walk the customer service walk.

The trick to working customer service is creating the illusion that you give a shit about your customer’s problems.

I called in because I’m having a problem with our home warranty – thing broke on Friday and repair guy said that it’d be fixed on Monday or Tuesday, and today is Wednesday. I talk to him and he says that his hands are tied until he gets the parts from the home warranty company because they insist on using their own. I talk to them and they say that they’ve just been ordered today and will arrive in 72 hours. So basically I’m out for a full week at this point.

The delay doesn’t bother me that much, though – delays happen.

What struck a nerve with me was when the home warranty rep told me, “I’m sorry about the delay, but things are kind of out of my control.”

“No, they’re not,” I countered. You should have control of your own supply chain that you use to fix my stuff.”

It looks like there was a discrepancy in pricing, and it is what it is at this point.

Excuse me?!

My biggest pet peeve with customer service reps, or really anybody who works for a company, is when they shift from we to they when they’re talking about the problem that I’m experiencing.

We’re having a small delay in getting those parts to you…

They’re having a small delay in getting those parts to you…

You see the difference? The difference is that in the second one, the rep makes it sound like he’s on my side and he doesn’t know why my parts are being delayed, either! But as I tried in vain to explain to this dim-witted claim rep, when I call customer support to complain about an issue, you are the company that I’m calling to complain about.

That doesn’t mean that you personally delayed my parts, and I get that. But it does mean that you’re responsible for it – you, in the royal sense, meaning the company that’s paying you to take my call. And that’s where the illusion falls apart because if instead you say, “We’re really sorry about the delay, Mr. Sevener, but I can confirm that the parts have been ordered and should be delivered within 72 hours…” now you’re fulfilling your role as a customer service representative and I can go back to my day knowing that your company is trying to address my issue.

I’m not calling for a buddy to hear my pain about why my repair isn’t done yet, but when you say, “They had an issue getting the parts…” you’re shifting responsibility to somebody else, which is a no no because at the end of the day, I’m paying you. Sure, there are lots of moving parts and third parties that you use to facilitate this transaction, but at the end of the day they all report back to you.

…because if I was working with any of these other folks directly, my thing would’ve been fixed last Friday because the repair guy already had the parts on his truck – your process just wouldn’t let him use them!!!

So I have all of the sympathy in the world when good customer service reps have to deal with asshole customers, and I’ll even admit that I’m sure that occasionally I’ve been that asshole customer myself who calls up yelling and screaming and absolutely refusing to listen to anything resembling reason. But you have to try at your job – create the illusion that you’re concerned about my problem – because for the eight minutes that I’m talking to you on the phone, my problem is your problem.

Or at least my problem is your company’s problem…

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