Monday, October 14, 2013

Call Centres - or "Do call us, we won't call you"


I had to complain last week. To the Organisation. It isn’t the slightest business of yours or of any relevance here what my complaint was about or who the Organisation was I was complaining to. You will know the story. We all have a complaint sooner or later and want the Organisation to sort it out.

And we all know how the Organisation helps us nowadays. Whether your TV has gone on the blink, the engineer has cut off the phone, your email isn’t arriving, the electricity has gone down, the water has dried up or Security have blocked your credit card - even if (and here I confess I am speculating) the blood transfusion hasn’t been delivered to your sick bed - it is always the same. Your complaint is dealt with by the Organisation’s Call Centre.

The Organisation, of course, is totally dedicated to customer service and my call was important to them, like yours. The Organisation always smoothly assures you and me of this in between excerpts from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Organisation is also always emphatically on side. It assures in the friendliest manner that all phone calls are recorded to help with staff training. (The staff? - there’s no whisper of any staff.)

Sometimes the Organisation plays a piece of original music, a daring change from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. It has bought this music off the shelf perhaps or, in an expansive mood, even had it specially composed by someone who had nothing better to do. The Organisation is proud of it. It wants to give it a good airing. It plays it to you once and then plays it again. And again and again. You hold the receiver away from your ear. Even the Sugar Plum Fairy was better than this.

Minutes, hours, days, weeks pass, your life ebbs away. From time to time a recorded message thanks you for your patience and confirms again your call is important to the Organisation. To make a change, the message suddenly breaks in to say you can contact the Organisation on their website and gives you the address. The address is harder to take in on one hearing than the Organisation’s recorded music track. You do not manage to pick it up or want to. You are on the phone to them right now. That’s why you phoned. At your expense. You wanted to speak urgently to someone - on the phone.

An eternity later, Beethoven is cut off in the middle of the Ode to Joy and a phone rings somewhere deep inside the Organisation. Ah - at last you are through.

You are not. ‘To help us’ - says the Organisation - ‘to deal with your inquiry, it is important to listen carefully to the following menu.  

‘Press 1 for important details about our times of opening and complaints policy. Press 2 if you have hearing difficulties. Press 3 if you are a foreign national.’

I fantasised: why not have Press 13? Press 13 could be if you wish to assassinate the first person who comes on the line now or you would like to blow up the Organisation.

I press 13. ‘Thank you for your inquiry. The Organisation is committed to customer service. An email will be sent to you to supply details. This is an automated response. Do not reply to it. Please leave your email address after the tone.’