Last month, I had an unpleasant encounter with identity theft. During the following weeks, while I repaired and restored my on line identity and credit, I had to communicate with a lot of businesses and people. Identity theft is emotionally traumatic and time-consuming. However, a lot of my time was wasted by simply not being able to speak with a customer service representative. Okay. I get it. I am of the baby boomer generation and therefore not the most agile with technology. But first, let's examine what it means to communicate with one another.
We used to write letters. No more. Now there is email. There is texting. And no that is not the same as "talking to someone." There is on-line "chat", and despite the fact that "chatting" used to be verbal in person or on the phone communicating, the on-line version is still not "talking" to someone else. Ditto for "Snapchat." Posting on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is definitely not "talking."
Now I fully understand from the business's point-of-view, the more often they can get their customers not to speak with someone about their problems, questions, or concerns, the more money they save. After all, paying a human being, wether in Peroria or Mumbai, to sit at a computer and talk to you on a phone is expensive. And 24/7 phone service anymore is expensive as much as it is scarce. But it has gotten so bad, that I recently tried to "chat" with a support person on a website and they said they were unavailable now and would "get back to me in a few hours"!
I've heard it all. (And so probably have you.) "Your call is very important to us." (No it's not. If it were, you would have picked up the phone by now.) "Your call may be monitored for quality purposes." Really ? How's that working out for us consumers? "Our menu options have changed." Usually not for the better.
"Would you like to stay on the phone and give us feedback or complete a survey after your call"? No thanks. I've wasted enough of my day already. And on and on.
One of my hacked accounts was with PayPal. They were the worst. Hold times to speak with a human were typically 30 minutes to one and half hours.. They offered to call me back so I hit the appropriate button on the phone to accept this option. After trying this three times with no call back, I concluded it was a ruse to get rid of more callers and just waited on hold with via speaker phone while I did other things. I started to have nightmares with their music on hold tune.
My point is that as with inter-personal relationships, the most effective policy is to pick up or answer the phone and just talk. I mean as in verbal person-to-person, one-on-one communication. No more community message boards or FAQ's for help. If I wanted to do that I could just waste time Googling stuff on my computer. Talk to me. Please. Is that really too much to ask?