Telephone Customer Service Reps

Trying to talk with poor English speakers can be a real dead end!
Trying to talk with poor English speakers can be a real dead end! | Source

I am neither a US supremacist nor a fearful “we’ll lose our jobs if we don’t buy American-made products” minion. However, I am in full rant mode over poorly spoken English used by telephone customer service representatives.

I am a citizen of the world. Due to wonderful life full of experiences and the teachings of my religion, that is where my heart lies. “Brothers all are we…,” “we shall overcome…” and empowerment consciousness of the 1960’s, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head” as the Psalms teach us. Hey, as a child I listened in Sunday school and “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” made perfect sense to me. God loves everybody; no exceptions, to paraphrase a popular bumper sticker. In addition, I have had the good fortune to travel to other countries. My first big trip, from Pennsylvania to England and Wales, changed me forever. During this trip I traveled with natives of the United Kingdom and with Europeans. In other words, I did not isolate myself within an insular gaggle of American tourists looking at sights. One of the many rewards of this vacation was that I gained a brother by a different mother. Chris H became a pen pal and phone buddy and then someone who visited my family in the USA and someone my family joined on vacation in Scotland. He is my bro.

Obviously, with this perspective, I become rather nauseous when I hear or read complaints about products made in, or services sent off-shore to, another country. Clothing made in Vietnam? Well, since we bombed the bleep outta them, couldn’t we support their recovery? Telephone computer tech assistance from India? Fine, as long as they know their stuff. My bottom line is that the service person should be competent and the product should be what I want. My American sisters and brothers are equal to my world sisters and brothers. Not less than, not better than.

So, we come to spoken English used by telephone customer service representatives. Do not make assumptions here. I am equally frustrated and annoyed by both fellow Americans and foreigners. Part of the competence for telephone assistance is the ability to communicate. Communicate in the language you indicate you know. These days Americans often can choose either English or Spanish as our choice for the language used to deal with a business representative. So, if a representative is allegedly able to speak a language, this employee, I believe, must be able to meet minimum standards for spoken fluency.

Persons in other regions of the United States, England, Canada, and so forth must be aware of their own regional accents and able to overcome those in order to communicate with other English speakers. Today I had the frustrating experience of speaking with a rep from Texas (I am in the mid-Atlantic) who spoke about a cell. In her mind, she was saying “sales.” Also, she told me that she would be transferring my call to the people in the front. This made little sense to me. After having her repeat herself several times, I realized she thought she was saying “people in the frauds (department.)” For both the service reps in another country or my own, if I keep saying “I didn’t understand what you just said,” then shouldn’t the employee be seeking language refinement training? Or, shouldn’t their supervisors be requiring it? I know a speech therapist who markets her services to businesses in order to make their employees’ spoken English more easily understood by the masses. I think that is a good business practice.

My bottom line again is that I don’t care if you are a purple Martian, an Okie from Muskogee, or a Sri Lankan. If you are a telephone customer service representative who holds yourself out as someone who can talk to me, then BE ABLE TO TALK to me!

Copyright 2015 Maren E. Morgan

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Comments 2 comments

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

You've raised a lot of valid points in this hub. I agree with them all! I can understand your frustration.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 21 months ago from Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, AliciaC. I can speak "survival" French and Spanish - just enough to call for help, use money and ask where is the loo? Beyond that, I am rather worthless. So, I should not hold myself out as someone who can help others in those languages. These customer service representatives know the right words, but cannot pronounce them --so to me it is identical to not knowing the words.

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