Tag Archives: customer service

Daily Prompt: Careless Whispers

sa8120It happens: sometimes that filter in our head bursts and we say too much of what we’re thinking and someone gets hurt. Tell us about a time you or someone you know said something that they immediately regretted.

This topic brings me back to one of my favourite (or least favourite, depending on how you look at it) themes – phone calls in the workplace. 

I wrote on this subject a little while back, in Daily Prompt:  Truth or Dare, where I gave some examples of the kind of response a hapless phone operator would like to have given to some awkward callers.

Today I’ve got a story from when I was very young.  Picture the scene – my boss, already late for an appointment, pauses on his way out to give some last-minute instructions for something that has to happen straight away.  I’ve just picked up a call from a client who is a rather cranky, garrulous old lady.

Struggling with the antiquated switchboard and caught in the crossfire between boss’s rather stressed  directives and her high-pitched demands to speak to him immediately if not sooner, I manage to figure out he wants me to tell her he has already left, and to remind him to call her in the morning.

My mouth translates this into “He’s not here, but he says to tell you he’ll call you tomorrow….”


Daily Prompt:  Careless Whisper – Picture of the switchboard I operated back then from British Telephones

Two Cents Tuesday: Loyalty

There's a sale on at Mog's place!
There’s a sale on at Mog’s place!

At the moment the first Neanderthal pulled a boulder across the front of their cave  and laid out whatever goods he or she wanted to exchange for something else, the concept of customer loyalty was born.

If Ugg dropped by everyday with some tasty nuts or nice skins or whatever, Mog would make sure that he kept the nicest flint tools he’d carved aside for Ugg.  If he didn’t, that fella in the cave downhill would surely get the goods instead.

My mum worked in an old-fashioned corner shop for many years, where Gerry the butcher would know that Mrs Murphy’s family got pork chops for dinner on a Wednesday, so he made sure to keep some nice ones aside for her.  This system worked, Mrs Murphy knew that every Wednesday, she would get what she needed.

I’ve got a customer loyalty card for a certain large supermarket chain, and being the geek that I am, I do my big grocery shop online on a Friday night, for delivery on Saturday morning.  The Baskerville Beasties love the regular visitor who arrives with boxes of treasure.  Harking back to Gerry’s encyclopaedic memory of his customer’s habits, the delivery man knows that if he brings the box with the carrots in first, and hands out one to each of the hounds, they’ll get busy chomping and won’t mob him to see what is in every box. They adore him.

When I log in to start my shop, I can go through a list of everything I have ever bought from that store, tick off frequent purchases, add to favourites and find special offers. I also get little vouchers in the post that I can use to either claim extra loyalty points, get a discount on some items or pay for some of my shopping.

On the surface, it seems like the digital culmination of Mog’s first primitive steps into the world of retail, and Gerry’s instinctive understanding of what his customers wanted, but the reality is, no matter how regularly I shop on a Friday, when the driver arrives on Saturday morning, at least 10% of the items I ordered were not available for packing.

When the little vouchers arrive in the post, they invariably apply to items that I don’t buy, e.g. if it’s a less expensive product, a more expensive brand is promoted. It’s the equivalent of Gerry offering Mrs Murphy a whole ham on Wednesdays when she planned to serve pork chops.

Given the opportunity they have to ensure they know what their customer wants, it is really daft to see how ineffective the big stores are when it comes to supplying according to demand – maybe a course in basic economics should be mandatory for their marketing departments and web developers. They could also do with some pointers from the nice delivery man.

Meanwhile, I’m off to fill my my shopping basket with nuts and trundle on over to Mog’s Emporium, I know he’s got some nice items in stock that I actually want.

Two Cents Tuesday:  Loyalty – Picture By Charles R. Knight (http://donglutsdinosaurs.com/knight-neanderthals/)

FYI:  Wikipedia on Mousterian – a look at tools made by Mog and his friends.

Two Cents Tuesday Roundup

Share your world: Week 4

Cee tells us this week’s set of questions were inspired by Having an Introvert Day, which sounds like a perfect plan to me. I really enjoyed that post, it’s about time us introverts stood up and got noticed (if only we weren’t so – well – introverted….) Smile

Without further ado – on to the questions:

Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?

I absolutely prefer to recharge by spending quiet time – but not exactly alone.  An outsider might observe that in the Baskerville Beastie pecking order, I’m pretty much at the bottom of the list, having to make sure the needs of every furry or finned critter in the house have been met before I get to settle down to do my own thing.  It’s just as well that I consider looking after my menagerie as doing my own thing.

What is the most number of blankets you’ve ever had on your bed?

If I could count The Elder Statesman and The Diva as blankets (and I often have) then my maximum blanketage would be five.

You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met. Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?

This entirely depends on what type of fascinating the people at the party would be.  Guaranteed to be fascinating? Yes.  Perceived to be fascinating? No.

Do you like talking to people on the phone? Or do you prefer voice mail or email?

I don’t like talking to people on the phone at all.  For incoming calls, you really can’t know who might be at the other end – never forget Ghostface’s modus operandi in Scream.

On the first day of my first full-time job, I was assigned to an eight-line switchboard with 24 extensions.  I thought I was Lt Uhuru from Star Trek – I loved it.  Because not everybody had a phone back then, most callers were uncertain enough about making calls to remain polite and reasonable.   When we finally got a phone installed at home, I was thrilled. Until the first time my parents went on holiday and left me home alone.  Some local yokel decided it was fun to inflict a series of very scary prank calls which I did not appreciate.  When I was about seventeen, my employer’s phone number was almost exactly the same as The Samaritans – to this day I admire the volunteers who are ready to pick up the phone and listen to the worst kind of pain and sorrow, but I really and truly was not equipped to deal with it.

But life goes on and if you want to work in an office, you generally don’t get away without taking at least one phone call through the day.  Some years ago I worked in an English language school, and was driven quite mad by potential students who would have carefully worked out their question about the course from Google translate or a phrase book, and never realise that if you ask a question, the most likely response you will get is another question, that you are not equipped to answer.  There is no room within a phone call for the expressions, gestures and sometimes little sketches that get you through a conversation with somebody who does not speak your language.   At least I could include a diagram in an email.

I also spent some time working online support and figured out very quickly that people on the phone only pick up about a tenth of the information you give them.  Callers seeking technical support can be so worried about what they can’t achieve because XYZ service is not working that they can’t take in the instructions they need to make it work. There was a classic call where the voice on the other end rained vituperations and curses upon me, my employer and all our works for several minutes because of the suffering caused by this terrible online service he was subjected to, only ceasing when I finally managed to tell him he wasn’t actually our client at all – if only he had looked before he dialled and yelled.

Calling people is also quite a pain, because, until your call interrupts whatever they are doing (and it could be something quite important that needs concentration) you have no idea whether they  really want to hear from you at that moment.  So voicemail doesn’t do too much for me either, unless I can respond by sending an email, or the caller specifies an exact time when it is appropriate to reply to them, and if they do, that the specified response time is miraculously something you can actually meet.  Scrolling through endless spam voice mails to get to a message you really want to hear is a complete waste of time.

Finally, at the end of a working day, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is pick up a phone unless there is a very good reason (for example, to arrange to meet somebody I want to talk to). My family and friends know I will only answer calls from people in my contact list. If you haven’t made it into my contacts, don’t leave a message, send me a text.


Share your world – Week 4    – Picture from Next Movie.Com

Pressure: Persuasion

headerIf you could persuade people to do one thing right now, what would it be?

Customer support is something of a bugbear of mine. Part of my job is related to support for our clients, so I know what I should reasonably expect when I need some help from companies that I pay for delivering any of the home services I use.

Key points:

  • It’s not foolish to expect that the service I pay for works, and if I didn’t break it, it should work 24-7
  • If I have a question, I want an answer, and I want that answer at a time that suits me
  • If I have a problem, I want a solution, and I want to receive the solution at a time when I can do something with it
  • I, along with mostly everybody else, use my home services when I am home.  People are most likely to be at home outside “business hours”

With the above in mind, here’s the scenario:

It’s about 10 pm on a weekend night.  My TV service/broadband goes down.  Where is the number to call? On the information page on the TV customer channel (which I don’t have access to).  On the website (ditto).  On my bill?  O dear, I signed up for online billing….. luckily I’ve saved the number on my phone.  20 minutes later I’m still clicking through various automated options, all of which lead to a message telling me to consult the website for further assistance. OK, don’t panic –  I’ve also got the email address in my phone.  Email goes – automated answer – “we will endeavour to reply to you within two working days”.  But don’t despair, they’ve got a Twitter account, right?  Back to the phone, open Twitter…and  the last message is that the company profile has been offline since 9 pm. Just as well I’ve got that book to finish.

Unsurprisingly, therefore,  if I could persuade people to do one thing right now, I would work on the people who decide what constitutes customer service within their organisation to reflect on whether they are spending ridiculous amounts of money on appearing to offer support or if they are offering any kind of service at all.

NaBloPoMo January 2014 – Picture from The Oatmeal – Under Pressure – Queen

Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines

ryanair-business-agms-2-390x285Click over to whatever website you visit most frequently to get news. Find the third headline on the page. Make sure that headline is in your post.

Oooo… not good:  Ryanair tight-lipped on what Google partnership will look like

No details of exactly what the potential Ryanair/Google partnership will entail, but here’s a few ideas:

  • You must arrive at your computer/pc/tablet to log in at least two hours beforehand
  • To open Gmail, you will need photo-id
  • Your emails will all be diverted to Faro
  • If you want your emails to go out on the same day you will need to book priority routing in advance
  • When you hit send, you will get a popup offer to insure your email
  • When you hit send you will get a popup offer to get a chargeable  text confirmation
  • Then you will get another popup offer to insure your email
  • You will get a popup offer to hire a car (possibly worth taking this offer so you can deliver your message in person)
  • You will get a “system lock” error every time you sign in to Google+
  • Ryanair baggage rates will apply to your Google docs
  • You will be charged every time you click on a url after a Google search – the price will increase exponentially for every click
  • The price of online purchases when using Google Chrome will also increase exponentially with every click
  • Existing Google support staff will be replaced by former Soviet long-range missile programmers

Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines – Picture from Photocall Ireland