I have just been told by a lady that I have great patience, that I am important and that she and her colleagues are counting the minutes until they hear from me again. It must be true since it was from my bank, and banks never lie.
If only I had been told by the same voice (or any other) that my complaint would be taken care of, it would have made my day. But I suppose to expect such praise and proper service on the same day is being greedy.
I often think of telling callers from my bank, ‘Your call is important to us. You have a lovely voice, but it cannot be heard now because I am busy cutting my nails. I thank you for your patience, but don’t expect me to connect you to myself in a hurry.’ It may not get them off the phone (their approach gets me off mine, which must be the idea to begin with), but it might give them something to think about. Or not. It’s difficult to judge these things.
My other plan is from Seinfeld. Ask the caller (a salesman, customer service, a promotion executive, a grab-you-by-the-throat-and-try-to-sell-you-something specialist) politely: Give me your phone number and I will call you back. ‘You can’t call me on my private number,’ is usually the response, at which point you hope the caller realises what she (or he) is doing and turns red with embarrassment while you gently hang up. Ah, such fantasies!
Sometimes de-humanised voices (they could be human voices that have undergone training to sound de-humanised) lead you through a maze of ‘if you want such-and-such, then press number so-and-so’ at the end of which you realise the call is over, and all you got for your troubles was a guided tour through the numbers on your phone.
I recently had the experience of a voice telling me at the end of a long and one-sided conversation ‘how to disconnect’. I didn’t wait around to hear this no doubt fascinating technique, and just banged the phone down.
Sometimes I think customer services are in league with the manufacturers of telephones, both mobile and old-fashioned. After all, if they irritate you enough, chances are you will throw the phone across the length of the room where it will hit the wall opposite and break into pieces. I think they work on a commission basis, perhaps 10 per cent for every phone that needs to be replaced.
Meanwhile, if you want to know how to deal with customer service gurus, press five. It doesn’t need to be on your phone. It is just as effective pressing numbers on your calendar. Nothing happens.
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