Ignore Me and I’ll Go Away (You Hope)

monkey-557586_1280Alright, so I’m noticing a trend in customer service.  It’s the Just Ignore Them or Irritate Them philosophy.  Maybe it’s not new and I just have had a confluence of experiences to bring it to light.  Companies hope that we are all too busy or our tolerance level is too low and we’ll go away.

For a billing error by, say, a satellite radio company that will remain nameless, lest they track my car and remotely send it off a cliff, my tenacity prevailed but only after at least 10 calls and a few emails.  And the one guy in a land far, far away, who just hung up when he couldn’t answer my question.

Our family doctors’ office, which again shall remain nameless since they are sort of the only game in town and I’d hate to get sideways with them because we do need them, is similarly difficult to communicate with. They are great about appointments, but can anyone return my multiple phone calls (and an email) with a single follow-up question about my son’s concussion?  Fugettaboutit.

The philosophical customer care approach by the contractor who did our house renovations a couple of years ago was to listen, nod, take notes, and then completely ignore everything that I said.  Later, when I asked why whatever it was hadn’t been done, he acted like it was the first he had heard about it.  He wore me down. One of the things I absolutely wanted in our bathrooms was a quiet fan.  The jet engine sound coming from my master bath ceiling this morning reminds me that his approach was highly effective.

… push 1 if you love Elvis …

The number of prompts in the cable company’s IVR system is painful.  I’m thinking it’s got  at least six menus (push 1 if you love Elvis, push 2 if you don’t love Elvis but love the Beatles, push 3 if your child is between the ages of 3 and 7, push 4 if you are calling about anything else).  Then it asks several times why I’m calling and when I say to the system “a question about my bill” it says that they need me to respond with more information but they don’t tell me what kind of information they need.  Out of desperation, I press zero and hear, “Push 1 if you love Elvis …”.

Last month’s billing issue on our business services account (and the business services representatives are so much better than the ones for regular folk) had me going through this process a few times, and getting kicked back and forth between departments and calling back when I got disconnected and whatnot.  When I finally got to a real person who was helpful, I pleaded for a direct number to call so that I could avoid the maze.  Sheepishly she said there was no other number.  She apologized and admitted that their IVR was really bad and told me, “Just keep pushing 4.  You’ll get to a person fastest that way.”

The customer care mantra used to be “ignore them and they’ll go away,” as in, your customers will not do business with you if you don’t take good care of them. I’m convinced that some consultant out there has confused the meaning of this mantra.  He is going around the country telling customer care department leaders to make it as hard as possible for people to get through, to get a response, to do anything, so that they just go away and the department won’t have to deal with them.

I need to call the cable company to change our subscription.  I’ve been putting it off for weeks due to IVR dread.  See.  It works.



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