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February 21st, 2017

The Village Idiot

Customer disservice survey

Jim Mullen

By Jim Mullen

Published June 30, 2016

Customer disservice survey

After hanging up from a two hour-phone call with my cable TV provider, much of it spent waiting for a human, I immediately got an email asking me to fill out a customer service survey.

The first question: Did my customer service representative solve my problem? No, but that's not the right question. The first question should be, "When we asked you to type in your phone number for faster service, did you know we were kidding?" Then, "Did you enjoy it when a live person finally came on the line and asked you for the same 10-digit phone number again? The one you typed in to make things faster? Did that speed up your service? Ha ha ha!

"How did you like our hold music? Pretty soothing, huh? We like to interrupt the good parts by telling you how important your call is to us. Did you think that recorded voice was soothing enough, or should we fire that person and hire someone else?

"The voice must have been at least somewhat soothing, because you were boiling mad when you first dialed this number. Now, you're realizing the futility of it all. You're even thinking of hanging up and using our online help tools, except you have no internet because we own that, too. Am I right, or what?

"Did you know our CEO just calls his secretary from the golf course when he has a problem with our service (or anyone else's)? He has no idea how long his secretary then has to spend on hold to actually fix the problem. He also has no idea that she's got her resume on LinkedIn and that she's leaving for a better job as soon as she can. She'd like to work for a company that improves their products so they don't have to hire more and more customer service reps. If that's what they mean when a company says it's 'growing,' get out of there.

"Don't you love it when we ask you to rate the representative -- the lowest person on our corporate totem pole, and not the managers who run such a lousy, unresponsive company? I mean, really, did the rep cause your problem? Of course not! We did! But we have no problem rating his or her performance. Just not our own.

"Do you wonder why we ask all the wrong questions on these customer service surveys? Would you believe we hired an expensive consultant with years of experience in helping hundreds of companies ask the wrong questions? Do you bet that's why these surveys are all amazingly similar and equally useless?

"If the answer to that question is 'yes,' say, 'yes.'

"I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Please speak louder. No, I still didn't catch that. Can you climb on a chair, stand on one leg and shout 'no' into the phone? Ha ha ha, gotcha! You look so silly on that chair.

"I still didn't get that, even though there's a 50/50 chance that you said 'yes.' Which doesn't sound anything like 'no.'"

My cellphone can understand the word "antidisestablishmentarianism," but the 800 number for customer service can't tell the difference between "yes" and "no."



"We know! Funny, isn't it? Especially considering we're in the communications business. So let's try it again. If the answer to that question is 'yes,' say, 'yes.' No, sorry, didn't get that. Would you like to go back to the main menu? If you said 'no,' press 1.

"On a scale of one to 10, one being the worst service of all time and 10 being the crappy level of service you've come to expect from giant money-sucking corporations, how would you rate us?

"Did you know that our CEO will get a bonus no matter what you answer, because he can say the volume of survey answers is up since he took over?

"Sweet deal, right?"

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Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo."

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