When I phone or go on a chat line with customer service agents, I take a deep breath, and prepare for inevitable pain.
If it’s a phone call, I’ll usually have several minutes of waiting time, sufficient to invoke memories of the dentist’s waiting chair. One could suggest that at least the latter needles you before the deeper work begins. The customer service agent has no such balm, except by exuding an aura of welcome, like the warmth of a Venus flytrap.
If it’s a chat line, the wait for contact is usually shorter. However, any time saved is eaten away by the necessity of typing back and forth, with something inevitably, if temporarily, lost along the way in the translation of my issues.
Before long the agent knows who there’re dealing with. And they’re not intimidated, because they’ve been taught how to massage.
When I bring up a problem with one of their services I’m paying for, they engage along a scale of ingenuousness and saccharine sweetness. How can I be critical when they carefully review what we both already know, so that the recording of their correspondence makes them look good? How can you get upset with an agent who shows caring, passing on empathetic expressions to me such as ‘I understand’ or ‘I can understand that’, even if these phrases are likely in front of them written on their screens or note sheets? You can feel the growing oneness of purpose in their voice or their writing. Then, when responses are embellished with an ‘I understand where you’re coming from’, well, how can I doubt we are on the same path to my happiness?
With the good feelings such comments on their part bring to the proceedings, I can and no doubt should overlook their fishing for opportunities to turn a problem into an opening to upsell. Clearly I need to focus on the big picture when I hear them say or write, ‘Does this sound good to you?’, or the soft impact close ‘Now that you’ve agreed to make this change…’, which I could have sworn I didn’t state.
Yes, I can take comfort in knowing that we are creeping toward some resolution, even though it may be patchwork, or not my first choice, or more expensive than I planned or hoped.
When the saga ebbs toward a conclusion, and my guards and hopes for better or quicker or cheaper results have been sufficiently drained away like the tide, the end of the communication tunnel in sight, I can truly take pride in a job malleably done.
Moreover, it will be just a matter of time before I need to confront the service minions of this organization or another like it again. The psyche pulsates with anticipation.
With apologies & thanks to Stephen Leacock