At one point or another we've all needed to contact a vendor's customer serivce department to correct some sort of billing issue or arrange for something to be replaced, corrected or otherwise handled. Invariably, it's a "complaint" of sorts that prompts your call. (After all, how many of us call to say "Good Job, Mr. Vendor"?)
We are taught as kids that it's not good enough to say "I'm sorry", but rather the apology needs to be indicative of admitting a wrong doing, with the intention of not doing it again. When a customer service representative says, over and over, "I apologize for that, Mr. Belden" they are not indicating that they are truly sorry. After all, this particular individual probably had nothing to do with the problem that I'm calling about. Secondly, they aren't making that implied promise of handling the situation better in the future. How can they? They aren't a decision-making individual within their company.
I think I would find it more satisfactory if they just said "I can understand your frustration, Mr. Belden." This would make far more sense, imply an empathy (that of course they don't possess) and save me the grief of having to say, after their tenth apology, "Please stop apologizing and let's just get it corrected." To which I typically expect them to say, "I'm sorry for all the apologies, Mr. Belden."
I'm sure all this is laid out in the "Vendor's Guide to Handling Customer Complaints" or whatever little green book that they give all the $4.00/hr customer service call center employees. I think one of the difficulties I have is that I don't care much for following other people's guidelines, but rather feel I am appropriately intelligent to handle the situation well without a script to follow. (Hence I never joined the military!)
Anyway...a short rant about why I despise calling any customer service center. I also would rather pull my fingernails out than call because I'm pretty sure, from the moment I dial the phone, that whatever I have to be calling about probably won't be fixed anyway. My typical pessimism at work, mind you!
November 10, 2005