Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“I’ve Been On Hold So Long That I’ve Forgotten What I Wanted.”

     I would’ve updated this blog sooner but I was on hold with an electronics store for the last six days.  Wow, it really does take a long time to get through to someone, doesn’t it?
     Okay, maybe not that long, but there are times when I probably could’ve constructed Noah’s Ark in the time that it takes me to get through to someone on the phone.  To paraphrase - you can judge the health of a nation by the time it takes someone to receive an answer from a retail store on the phone.  I guess you can’t really put that on a bumper sticker, but I’m sure it’ll catch on.  It’s an issue you hear about nearly every single store, HR helpline, or manufacturer’s customer hotline.  And everyone’s own personal delay is a catastrophe, I’m well aware, but what do you really expect?
     Think about the amount of people living in your town.  If more than 5 people are calling up with a question or issue, chances are you won’t be getting through any time soon.  Magnify that if you’re calling a Sony, or Nintendo, or Whirlpool hotline for a question.  That company has only so many call centers set-up to deal with issues and I’m sure no amount of jobs they could fill would come close to handling the amount of calls they must receive.  A company only has a finite amount of resources available to them and incoming calls will always be shortchanged in that equation.  So suck it up and wait.  If you can make it through in under 10 minutes, just be happy to finally get your question answered.
     Customers come into my department and tell me how they couldn’t get through on the phones so they were forced to come into the store.  They always have the same idea, too:
     “[Blank Store] needs to hire more people to answer the phones.”
     Thanks, now all we need to do is install more phone lines for those new hires to work! Brilliant!  If every person in the store was devoted to just answering the phones then people coming into the stores would have no one around to assist them.  A store can only do so much for the number of incoming calls they receive each day.  If you really want to have faster service on the phone, spread the word to every person you know who meanders on in a phone conversation.
     You know the type – the person who gives you way too much information than what’s needed to tell a story, or the person who isn’t prepared for the conversation so they stumble on their words or repeat themselves a million times.  If they’re that slow talking with someone they know, imagine how they are when they’re talking to us.  To find you the cable for your computer or the filter for your vacuum, we don’t need to know that you received that vacuum from your grandma ten years ago because you moved into a new apartment and had a pet dog named Spot who, god bless him, would shed like crazy.  WOW, really?  Like Dave Chappelle would say, “Wrap it up!"
     If you want help finding something, just tell me the company who made it, the model number, and how old the product is.  Cut and dry, people.  The quicker you are with us, the quicker we are with you, and can proceed onto the next phone call.  If you don’t like waiting in a long phone queue, imagine how the people behind you feel once you get through.  If we need more information, we’ll probably ask for it.
     That’s not to say that some customers are justified in their complaints.  Just the other night I was caught trying to call up another store to see if they carried something in-store.  I was on hold for over an hour trying to get through.  After 10-15 minutes of holding, I would hang-up and try another extension but I got the same response.  I then tried other stores to see if I would have better luck and, eventually, I did.  That luck only occurred after calling 2 other stores and waiting about 5-10 minutes on hold for each store.  That is no way to run a business.  I can understand if someone has to wait 5 minutes or so but over an hour of trying to get through?
     Don’t think that employees don’t understand your frustration.  We get it more than anyone out there.  I have to call other stores, warehouses, etc., for customers who are too lazy or too stubborn to call them up themselves and I am the one left on hold.  Just remember to be calm like the Buddha.  Have patience and eventually your call will be answered.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick up this damn phone that’s been ringing for the past hour.
     More soon from the frontlines...