Customer Service, Please

Lately I have spent a lot of time on customer service calls. As I cancel different amenities in preparation for Sidney and I establishing our own joint accounts together, I have talked with agents from cable, appliance, insurance, energy, and other companies.

The process is never that enjoyable. You call up the customer service center of the company, listen to a long automated recording, type in a bunch of numbers, wait on hold forever while listening to repetitive music, and then listen to the automated voice cut in and out to tell you that all representatives are busy.

Finally, you are connected with someone. This customer service agent will have you repeat all the information you gave while dealing with the automated recording and then afterwards he/she will plead with you to take a satisfaction survey.

However, in between the hustle for information and the request to spend even more time on the phone, in my experience, it has been a very productive and professional conversation.

Over the past month or so, I have had really great customer service from agents representing companies such as Time Warner, Appliance Warehouse, and Santee Cooper. Any frustration I had from a long hold time or overall dissatisfaction from the company’s service/product went away when I talked to the customer service representative. These people are pleasant, knowledgeable, empathetic, and relatable. Basically, they are impeccably trained.

I applaud these major companies for instituting a strong central customer service center with highly capable individuals. I mean let’s face it, you can’t place just anyone in a chair and have him answer telephone calls.

So, with all this said, there is one thing I have noticed when being on these calls. Believe it or not, the person we talk to on the other end of the line is surrounded by a whole bunch of co-workers who are also on the phone with people like you and I. This makes it so a customer can also hear one side of another agent-customer conversation.

In almost all instances, I could hear background conversations. Most of the time, I could hear the agent on the defensive. How did I know that the employee was in fact dealing with an angry customer? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that phrases such as “Sir, I sincerely apologize that you are so unhappy” and “Ma’am, could you please calm down?” signify displeasure. Also, truth be told, in the past I haven’t always been a perfect angel calling up the customer service line either. I regret a couple instances when I was short and impatient when airing out issues regarding my spotty internet connection or lack of newspaper delivery service.

Basically, what I am interested in knowing is this: Are any of my readers out there customer service professionals at call centers? I would really like some information on whether you like your job or not. From the outside looking in it looks like it might be tough taking calls all the day and putting up with angry customers. Is my sentiment right? Or perhaps is it a little more rewarding than what I might think?

I thank people in these positions for the great work they do. I also apologize to the ones I wasn’t especially cheerful with. If you don’t mind, I would like to know a little bit more about your profession. Don’t Blink.