I just had an odd and possibly quite revealing experience after speaking with a customer support representative. While the rep was suitably polite, friendly and eager to help, they were at a loss as to how to resolve the issue I was having.
As it turns out, it wasn’t anything too complex, but the matter was something either beyond the rep’s realms of expertise, or simply unknown to the company’s knowledge base.
I ended up fixing the problem myself as I was talking to the rep, who was frantically shuffling through reference material. They even asked me a couple of times for pointers that really, I had just as good odds of knowing as they did.
As soon as the rep signed off, having made sure my problem was resolved and wishing me a good day, I was given the option of filling out a customer feedback form to rate my satisfaction with the product, and the service I received.
Almost without thinking, I started to tick off the ratings from one to ten, and finally I came to the part where I could add a comment to sum up how I felt about how I’d been treated. I was halfway through the paragraph, in which I basically summed up what I’ve said so far in this post, when I stopped and had a thought, and hit the Cancel button.
Ultimately, I reasoned that the person who’d spent twenty plus minutes trying to help me with my problem was doing just that. Admittedly, they hadn’t known about the issue and I ended up fixing it myself, but they had been cordial and tried their best under the circumstances.
The person on the other end of the ethernet cable was, in all statistical likelihood, a young guy. Possibly even with family. And this was his job. Regardless of how well he understood my particular problem, he had made me feel like a valued customer in a way that would no doubt make his corporate overlords proud.
I’ve had dealings with dickish line managers in my time, who exude a false buddy-buddy charm while simultaneously looking for any hint that you aren’t hitting your quota. My feedback wasn’t harsh by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a feeling that it’s the kind of thing managers look for. Gaps in knowledge. Below threshold. That kind of bullshit.
While I considered giving the guy exaggeratedly positive feedback just to fuck with the line manager my jaded imagination had conjured up, I ultimately reasoned that no feedback at all was a reasonable – if expected – alternative to the whinging, rubbishy advocation of “must try harder” that my original response would no doubt have been taken as.
So in summary, I guess this has made me think a little bit harder about the full effect our throwaway actions and words can have. Either that, or I’m a massive pussy. YOU decide.