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There’s “Service” in “Customer Service”


SThis is an open letter to Customer Services Call Centers (CSCC).
Let me start by stating that I am not making this a universal case; I am sure that there are some stellar CSCC out there, but just not the last two I had to use.

Dear Call Center Directors,

I will speak up for all the people “who don’t have time for this” and I’ll take the responsibility if you fire back. Please allow me to sacrifice myself on the Customer Without Service Altar if need be. I am addressing this letter today to share my experience with your people: your unfortunate and remote 1st level representatives answering the telephone all day, responding to questions from people like me, seeking answers.

Here are my 5 pleas when I call you:

1.    Please answer the phone
I am calling you, and that’s not because I want to share weather updates or family news. I am taking the time to call because I have a real question and I want you to take the time to give me a real answer.
As a reminder, I am paying for this service through my plan/purchase/whatever, and I am paying again through your very expensive call center phone number, which also requires me to spend 80% of my cell phone plan in waiting time. I don’t want to get stuck on the “all representatives are currently busy assisting other customers, your estimated waiting time is 6 minutes but we all know that you’ll have time to complete your IRS form” planet. Please pick-up as I’m finished with my IRS form now.

2.    Please understand I am unique
I am one of your xx-million customers, but I am not a sheep. Please don’t treat me like one, I do not like it. I chose you as my supplier so please recognize the honor by acknowledging me back. I’d like an answer that suits my needs/problem/crisis/internet-is-down-the-end-of-the-world-is-actually-happening-how-am-I-going-to-survive-situation? Please ask your representatives to use their common sense when I ask a question. Their priority should be set on understanding me and not on trying to find “a” box” to put me in from a complex scenario based on common issues. Again I am not just anyone, I am your customer.

3.    Don’t shoot yourself in the foot
Please ask your newbies, or anyone I speak with to update the history of my file so that I don’t have to explain my problem all over again the third time I’m calling. Not that I love you that much, I have a life and I’d rather do something else right now; but you said you would call me back and you didn’t, so I am calling you again. And this third person I am speaking to is unfortunately bearing for all the previous ones.
I will apologize to this person, I will tell that innocent soul that I understand it’s not his/her direct fault, unfortunately as the first line of defense,  I have to let my inner Darth Vader take over as my Luke Skywalker failed the last two times.

4.    Man-Up! (Or Woman-Up accordingly!!)
Please face up to your responsibilities. Noticed how the Manager is never here when I ask for him/her? Do acknowledge there is a real problem for which you may be responsible for. Honestly, if you thought the success of a call center lies in a short response time, think again. If your customer service can’t provide solutions or proper help, it’s simply useless. Train your people so that they focus on problem solving. Allow them to take it to the next level when necessary and ask this next level to roll up their sleeves. I wish you had to use your own services to understand how regular customers feel when they want to speak with someone with decision-power.

5.    Don’t assume I am stupid.
Who am I to judge if your people are qualified or not? I would assume they are, I would think you hire and train professionals to provide me with educated answers. I may not be a specialist in your field/industry, but that does not me an ignorant. But wait a minute. what if I had more credentials than them??

* Call Center #1 – Internet Service Provider.

My box is dead following to a power outage. Plugging it does not turn any light on. I try to reboot, play Tetris with all kind of buttons, it remains lifeless and useless. RIP Internet Box, I’ll replace you with no hard feelings, you’ve served me well over the past 6 years but I have to move on. Farewell.
Easy diagnostic don’t you think? Yet regardless on my insisting to simply replace the device, the rep still spends 20 minutes running all kind of network tests (x3, see point #3 above), and tells me I have to test it in a store or at a friend’s (I swear he literally suggested that. Unbelievable). I am a meeting planner not a Network Engineer so what’s my clue? Well you’ll be happy to hear that my husband’s a System Engineer. Gotcha. I guess that makes him qualified enough to declare the device deceased doesn’t it? Believe it or not I still had to unleash Darth Vader to get a new box.

* Call Center #2 – Online Holiday Booking

While booking the next holidays online, I read that transportation specifics of my all-inclusive package indicate that flight details will be confirmed between one week and the day before departure. I am sorry, I am a meeting planner and I don’t do last-minute planning. Plus, I have a degree in Tourism, so I am qualified to work as a Travel Agent, I know how the system works. So please, Mr. Customer Representative, do not tell me regular airlines “don’t plan flights so far out” when departure’s in 5 weeks. I will become very angry at you if you try to question my intelligence.

Dear Call Center Director, I hope you’ll take my letter seriously. I wish I didn’t have to call you but I do. All I ask is that you consider me as important – if not more important – than a potential customer… did you know it takes less to retain than to recruit…? Please retain me, or I’ll give you my “It’s not me, it’s you” break-up line.

Written by Sophie Deville, Project Manager, Legend Conference Planning


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