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We Will Call You After One Working Year!

Updated on August 25, 2016

I get this a lot, especially from banks and telcos. Unless you're living in a barren mountain with a dragon for company, I suspect you at least had one such customer service experience too.

Ever suffered a customer service fail over the phone?
Ever suffered a customer service fail over the phone? | Source

Scenario. Disaster! Woe! It is catastrophic enough for you to regress to that almost forgotten mode of communication. A PHONE CALL. After punching in the numbers, you are slapped with one, or more, if not all of the following:

  1. A voice system puts you through a LOTR-ish journey before connecting you to a human being
  2. The human being you finally speak to informs that the actual person in charge is not around
  3. Somehow the voice system screws up and you end up trapped, TRAPPED, in an infinite loop of repeating instructions
  4. You reach the end of your telephone journey, and is greeted by a recorded message
  5. You evade (3) and (4), and wait 30 minutes for someone to pick up the phone
  6. After surviving (5), you spend another 30 minutes explaining your situation, because the person on the other end keeps misunderstanding
  7. After enduring (1) to (6), you are told you would receive a call-back in ... ... ... number of working days
  8. Nobody calls after ... ... ... number of WEEKS, so you call again. Rinse, repeat (1) to (6), hopefully not (7)
  9. Finally, finally, you are given a solution. Only to discover, it's not what you need because ultimately, the person who responded to you still misunderstood. Rinse, repeat, all of the above
  10. You finally receive the help you require. But irreparable damage has been done. When you pursue this, you are told that strangely, no record of ALL your call attempts exists

The abysmal lack of after-sales customer service

What baffles me is, why do large organisations like banks and telcos devote so little effort to after-sales servicing? Why do they splurge millions of dollars on advertisements, but are near abysmal in after-sales servicing?

Does it not occur to them that when a customer is efficiently attended to in a crisis, it leaves a far deeper, far more positive impression?

To be fair to the service personnel answering calls, it is also usually obvious that it is not their fault. In many cases, it is clear that they were not properly trained or even briefed for their duties. What justifications could there be for such important, front-end positions to receive minimal training?

In fact, I think you would agree with me that many organisations take extensive efforts to be unreachable. Why do you think there are such complicated voice reply systems? Why do some banks have only that one customer service phone line to call, when they have tens of thousands of customers? One email only too. A generic one, like, customer_service@so-and-so-and-so. Makes one wonder, does it not? Just what the concept of customer service is, to these folks. Perhaps, just perhaps, they have so much faith in their products that they do not see the possibility of dissatisfaction. And for that reason, they feel it is a waste of time to refine after-sales service.

If only. If only that's the case.

Almost inevitably, it turns out to be quite the opposite.

Ever experienced such a customer service fail over the phone?

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© 2016 Kuan Leong Yong


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