Workplace Stress ... How About Customer Stress!!!

I’ve been blogging recently on workplace stress.  A very emotional topic to be sure, but what about Customer Stress?   Especially when I’m the customer!

Not long ago my cell phone very suddenly and permanently died.   Well, not so much died as drowned.  Seems cell phones don’t do well in the washing machine.  Who knew?  I don’t recall any warnings when I bought the phone.  And if you can make millions from spilling hot coffee in your lap because there wasn’t a warning on the cup, surely I should be able to get a soggy cell phone replaced.   I wasn’t looking for a freebie, just an affordable replacement with no contract extension.

I called my carrier and after entering a variety of codes was finally able to speak with a real human – the first of many.  Each one feigned sincerity beautifully, but would eventually need to pass me along to another person who had no viable solutions to offer and no authority to think beyond their checklist.  There’s a lot of that going around lately – hire young, inexperienced people, provide as little training as possible and even less decision making authority, give them a checklist and let them loose on their “valued customers”.  But as always, I digress.

The call concluded with me no further forward and the service rep asking me if she had given me “options to resolve my problem”.   I told her no, but she insisted that she had in spite of the fact that I still wasn't satisfied.  “Did I give you options to resolve your problem?”  What deviant genius thought of that one?  Seems options are the objective as opposed to actually solving the problem, and what a great way to compile stats that suggest customers have been satisfied without actually meeting their needs.   Eventually, I called back and spoke with the accounts department and told them to cancel my account and transfer my number.  They arranged for a phone to be couriered to me the next day.

This is just one example - I have many more ranging from my cell phone carrier, to renewing a mortgage to grocery shopping.  Some are just annoying, others have given me reason to stop doing business, but what they all have in common is that the "valued customer" is now tasked with handling much of their own customer service and when human intervention is required it is often insufficient to meet the customer's needs - not just options, actual needs.



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