Have you ever had to contact a company’s customer service center and felt like your meer phone call has inconvenienced them in some way? Or have you been placed on hold for over twenty minutes before you even have a chance to completely relate your reason for calling? How many times has a customer service representative found a way to blame the problem on you or something you did to compromise their product? Has a delivery or service person ever not shown up during the time slot given? And without calling to say that they are running late? Do receptionists even look up at customers anymore? How many times have you had an appointment at an office but still sat in the waiting room over thirty minutes past your appointment time?
These are all things that have either happened in my household or in households of friends just in the last two weeks!
These all seem to be commonplace complaints about customer service centers in today’s world. Why is that? Have we become so callous toward and disconnected from other people that the basic niceties and kindness are too much to ask for? I know that most of the time when someone contacts a customer service center, they end up speaking with someone who is hard to understand and most likely out of the country. It does not excuse poor customer service. I blame technology and social media. Here is why:
- Newer modes of communication, like texting, posting, tweeting, are faster and less confrontational than face-to-face conversations, phones calls, or even well-written emails. It takes time and effort to lay out your thoughts or argument in a good email; It takes patience, being open-minded, and able to think on your feet to have a productive conversation on the phone or face-to-face. That effort isn’t needed for a quick text or Facebook post.
- “Computer Muscles”. It’s so much easier to post or tweet your cutthroat political opinion and comment online some things you would never have the courage to say to someone’s face or even out loud. It is much less confrontational to have an online argument by commenting on Facebook than to have that disagreement face-to-face. Also, online conversations do not have to be with anyone that you would ever come into contact with; you can debate something with anyone in the world and never have to see them in the grocery store.
- Lack of daily human face-to-face situations reduces a person’s ability to interact appropriately with other people. A person can do almost anything online these days and seldom leave their home. You can order groceries online; You could buy clothing, household supplies, gifts, movies, pets, cars, phones, anything you desire, all online; You can even order take out/delivery service without picking up a telephone. Without actual face-to-face interactions, how are you going to know that your tone or facial expressions are not conveying what you mean to say? It’s like an athlete training for a competition – if you don’t practice and build your muscles, you are not going to improve your performance.
- The constant plead for help from agencies weighs people down and causes us to become insensitive. Local news and social media are full of reports/posts about something that is abused or neglected (children, animals, elderly), or the many causes out there (civil rights, environmental, political, religious) all needing your help. At least with local news it’s just local causes, but social media lets you know that there is an abused puppy in Chad, Africa that needs you to adopt him right away! Some days my entire Facebook news feed is filled with anxiety-causing political rants, heart wrenching abuse stories, rescued animal stories, and reports of despicable human acts; It just makes we want to unplug completely!
- Companies seem to think about their own needs or political agendas. Since technology has made the world so much smaller, companies that previously would not have international ties can now communicate across the globe as if they were next door.
Companies with good – excellent customer service are rare these days. We no longer live in an era where the customer is always right. Since good customer service is so rare, I do not mind paying a little more for a product if I know that the customer service is going to be great if something goes wrong.