I am usually an upbeat guy. And I am today. I do have my days I spend under a grey cloud of tension or negativity; I am Dutch after all – but usually, I shrug things off, or deal with things thinking positively now. Que the Zen-music. Still, I am not a happy person.
Oh, I am happy. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing to complain. But ‘happy’ these days is something that I do not grasp. I mean the ‘happy’ I see all day long in my work and the media. I see happy people. And I mean, the happy people that are these days always printed near any form of call-center or customer support area. Online, in the paper, in the booklets I receive with my hard- or software.
They always predict happy people. Happy people on the phone. A pretty lady smiling with a set of pearly-whites while talking on a head-set to a customer who called the support center which made him so very happy too! Because, well, happiness is contagious, so the person called this beautiful happy lady who helped him out of all the problems with his or her product that he/she bought. And he/she is now happy too.
“Hi Sir, this is customer support, how can I help you?”
“My brand new printer does not work.”
“I am here to fix all your problems. What is the problem?”
“I just bought it over the internet, and it arrived in pieces. I paid $1,000 for it, and now it does not work.”
“I am sorry to hear it. Let me work my magic. Voila! If you take a look at your printer now, it is all shiny and new, and I even installed it on your network for you.”
“Oh you made me so happy!”
“That is what I am here for. Have a nice day!”
Really? Because in my opinion Customer Support means on its own that people are there to help a customer, because they cannot do something on their own. Which means, something is stopping the user from doing what he or she wanted to do, and he or she now got so aggravated that a phone call to a person who most likely knows nothing about the product than what is written down in a scenario, is the only option left.
And that usually means waiting. A lot of waiting. With a lot of terrible music.
Customer support should not show happy people. It should show serious people. Support is serious business, and never fun. At least, not that I can think of right now.
Every time I make my commute in the morning, there is this giant bill-board along the New Jersey Turn-Pike that shows a small-time lawyer who is searching for any people with legal problems; DUI, Credit problems etc. I can’t stand the way of advertising. But, he loves to see himself on the billboard. And so he portrayed himself looking down on you, because this guy is so full of himself – probably. I don’t know the guy personally. Maybe he is the nicest guy around.
BUT! If I would need a lawyer, I don’t want a nice guy. I want a guy who looks down on other people and feel much stronger. I want Goliath. Sure, David was able to defeat Goliath, but before that Goliath was undefeated. So I don’t have to like the guy. If I need someone’s services, I would go to the guy on the billboard if I don’t have any references. He might be terrible at his job, but if I have to go out on a limb just by looking at an advertisement, that is the right portraying of the guy.
Recently I had to call Wells Fargo because I was asked by the online banking site to verify myself, before they could allow me into my account. I called in, to this happy looking woman I saw on the website. Oh, she was happy alright to begin with, to get me through the standard verification questions. Last name, address, last digits of the social security… and then, what the limit on my account was. Ehm… you tell me. I don’t know exactly. I don’t have to know, because it is nicely summed up for me in my online account. Then she mentioned to look on my paper statements. Ah, the paper statements that we were all urged to cancel because we all could see all our information online! Those paper statements? Well, I don’t have them. I started to get a bit agitated. But to the woman on the phone, now also losing her smile, that was just not a problem to her, but a problem for me. She would not let me pass this verification question, and there was no intelligence left for the reasoning.
And since I tried to be a moving force but clearly meeting an immovable object, I asked for the manager before I would blow a fuse. And why this person ever had become a manager is completely beyond my comprehension, because she could also not figure out what I was mentioning, just like asking why the limit on my account was a verification question. Wells Fargo online lists perfectly fine the verification questions, but somehow, this did not seem to be the case. Temperatures flared, voices were raised, but the whole concept of the answer to her question being printed on the site I was not allowed to get into was completely beyond the capability of her brain power. Eventually, she even hung up the phone.
The woman on the site still was smiling to me.
Then I tried to find an email address to file a complaint. But, there is Wells Fargo, a huge bank…. no direct postal address or email address. Only for acquiring services, not for support in any way. I started to fume when the telephone rang. Wells Fargo. I picked up, and a calm Indian guy was talking to me on the phone, and did a very good job even to be perfectly understandable. If I knew that I still owed money for a payment. I told him immediately I would make the payment right now, if he in exchange could give me an address to file a complaint with the previous people on the phone. He told me that he would.
I gave him my payment information, and asked him for his name so I could at least give him some credit of being nice, polite and perfectly calm and delivering me support. He asked me if I could talk to his manager, since it actually never happens that the payment-receivable department would get any compliments on the phone. A very sweet sounding Indian lady got on the line and identified herself as the manager of the guy I just was talking to. I told her that I wanted to give my credit to the guy who just helped me, he helped me fine, doing what I wanted to do, without a single issue and within the minute. She sounded surprised, then laughed, and told me that she would make sure the person I had spoken to would be rewarded, but that I had to understand that this was unusual because mostly people were angry on the phone, so she was surprised about the honest and well-meant compliment. She thanked me, I welcomed her, and the conversation was over.
Well… look at that. Actually, the woman on the phone actually was smiling. And so was I.
Maybe there is a hint of truth in the whole smiling-woman-on-the-phone thing after all.