Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  GetHuman.com

Gethuman.com is a web site that has set out to make call centers better. If you go to their website you can find the IVR Cheat Sheet that allows you to get to a human operator on most major call centers faster-here's a quote from their home page:

"Our goal is to improve the quality of customer service and phone support in the US. This free website is run by volunteers and is powered by over one million consumers who demand high quality phone support from the companies that they use."

They even have a funny music video you can watch over at Google Video.

I support their plan to get to a human operator quicker. I think that as long as a customer is lost in the queue, pressing buttons, and trying to say their account number, many call centers managers think they don't have to take responsibility for helping them.

That said, this entry from their blog concerned me:
"We are a consumer advocacy site focused on improving the face of customer service. This movement is powered by over one million consumers who are angry about bad service.

We demand high quality, prompt, human customer support, by friendly, qualified people who we can understand, and who can handle our call without putting us on hold or transferring us again and again.

We will reward companies with good service by buying more products and services from them, and telling our friends and families about them.

We will punish companies with bad service by canceling our accounts with them and instead using one of their competitors who has better service."~Saturday, February 04, 2006 Blog Entry

As someone who works in a call center I feel qualified to comment about this. I appreciate them taking an active market-driven approach to getting good customer service. My question is what level of quality customer service is good enough?

Really, I'm not kidding here. I know I provide quality service. I am friendly and understandable. I know most of the other people I work with provide the same. There are always some exceptions, but there are many agents that provide good service ninety-five percent of the time. That said, good agents still find themselves being abused by people who "demand high quality, prompt, human customer support".

I want to know if there if gethuman.com sees the other side. Is there an inalienable right to high quality customer service in the Bill of Rights? Is less than thirty-second hold time mentioned somewhere in the Constitution? They certainly have the right to work to make changes in an industry that needs the help. I just want them to think about the people that are on the other side of the phone. We are not the enemy. We are trying to do the best we can and many times are being abused by management that demands low cost, affordable labor costs while our customers are demanding high quality,prompt, human customer support. We, the operators on the other end of the phone are getting caught in the middle.

I'm not asking them to stop. It's a good cause. There are call centers that need improvement. But if this search for high quality service is just becoming another arrogant voice that demands all for nothing and is never satisfied, then I don't support that. Service is not just short hold times and friendliness. There are people on the other side of the phones that are frustrated too. Who's helping us?

Thanks for reading,

AC
Anonymous Cog

 
Comments:
I believe GetHuman is trying to improve customer service by rewarding companies that provide good service with their business and cutting off companies that do NOT provide good service.

It's true, you ARE caught in the middle because the desire for low cost customer service is often in direct conflict with high quality customer service. The only way to get 'management' to pay attention to service is to make sure there is a direct impact on the bottom line. Refusing to do business with companies who refuse to provide quality service is an excellent way to make this happen.

There is NOTHING in the constitution that guarantees good customer service. There is also nothing in the constitution that guarantees I'll give my business to companies who don't measure up.

Consumers are treated poorly because we ALLOW it. We continue to spend money with companies who treat us like crap. Gethuman is just one small step toward fixing that mistake...
 
Thanks for commenting. You are right that gethuman.com is a good idea to deal with bad call centers. I agree with that and whole-heartedly support their IVR cheat sheet to get a human faster.

I believe the point that I was making was that while there are some bad call centers out there that deserve to be shut down or have their business go elsewhere, there are many call centers that are doing an adequate job but that there are customers whose demand for high,quality,friendly,etc. etc., customer service is not reasonable.

I'm asking that just like we give up local jobs to outsourcing, give up quality in order to have always low prices, that people think about their expectations of quality service, and think about how their demands affect those that serve them.

Yes, a market driven economy allows for competition in creating goods and services that are cheaper and better, we all understand that. But there remains more to this life than just getting everything you want as quickly as you can get it.

How about justice and fair treatment to those that are working? How about treating those around you in a kind and honorable manner?

Some consumers are treated poorly because they are demanding selfish oafs who can't see beyond their myopic selfishness. Spend 10 hours a day on the phone and you might see things a little different.

AC
 
It's great about cheating the IVR and demanding better service, but didn't you ever think that IVR is not there just because call takers are slackers? How about the situation when there are 5 people to respond to the overwhelmong call volume? Do you know what happens if there is no IVR to take care about similar inquiries? Valued customers will be in ques forever with no chance to get through to the operator, and the que will grow exponentially.
Thus, IVR is not just there to make your life miserable but to help service providers to serve the customer better.
 
Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Maybe you did not read the post, or my response or you just picked out something I said and interpreted it how you wanted, because your response was kind of confusing.

I've said it more than once that I have no problem with IVR and I dont have a problem with Gethuman.com publishing their list. I support them helping people get to a human faster.

While my call center does not have the same type of system, we have an ACD system that gets customers to the first open agent.

My point in this post was that there seems to be no end to people "demanding" high quality service from call centers when it is not always possible. Call centers are designed to handle the most calls in the least amount of time for the least amount of money.

Customers deserve to be treated fairly and kindly. But demanding concierge-like service from a call center is like demanding your local Wal-Mart have a tailor on staff to hem your slacks or skirt 24 hours a day. We pay for low prices by giving up a modicum of service. If you want to never have to sit on hold, be prepared to pay for it.

AC
 
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