Phone Rage

I’ve just spent seventy five minutes waiting on the phone to the Customs Call Centre trying to track down an international package addressed to me. In that time I got transferred a number of times, despite correctly following several menu prompts along the way. AND after all that time I now have to ring yet another Call Centre.
Government Departments, telecommunication service providers, internet service providers, utility providers and just about any other company whose services you need as they have already sold you their product and/or you rely on it invariably utilize the ubiquitous Call Centre.
Banks are bad – though not quite as bad as the aforementioned group.

In fact I regularly put aside a whole day if I have more than two or three calls to make to such places. 
The thought of having to deal with a Call Centre invariably gives me a really bad dose of the ‘heebiejeebies’. In fact I’d rather do just about anything than call a Call Centre. The imperative need to periodically indulge in such activity contributes towards my diagnosis of a self coined disorder I’ve called ‘society phobia’. 
I’ve learned that if the Company you are trying to call has a Sales Centre and they are actively seeking clients then it is best to ring the Sales section and ask to be forwarded to where you need to go to. They might be seeking further clientele to replace such disgruntled persons as yourself who may have taken their business elsewhere. 
During the last week I estimate that I’ve spent at least about sixteen hours trying to deal with matters that I’m pretty certain may have taken only about an hour back in those ‘good old days’. The ‘good old days’ were those days before economic rationalism started it’s ugly and ever increasing stranglehold upon us.

Here in Australia many companies, particularly Telco’s outsource their calls to Asian destinations. Such companies tend to fragment their services and, as such the Call Centre phone operator often has an infuriatingly narrow understanding of the overall services provided by the Company employing them. 
When this fact is compounded by language and epistimological difficulties the result can often be an escalating sense of frustration for the caller. 
Indeed one very well known manufacturer of mobile phones directs the local calls from Australia to the USA even. 
Things are made further difficult here in Western Australia if you have to ring a Government Department whose main offices are on the west coast (as most are). By the time we get up and have had breakfast they have gone to lunch and this means limited access to an operator for the next two hours, and by the time they return from lunch we are considering having some and then, after our own lunch time we are lucky if there is a one hour window left for dealing with our concerns before they bolt for the day. 
I firmly blame economic rationalism for this very horrid state of affairs but this is fodder for further articles.

There is one Company over the years that I have found to be an exception offering a better option. I hesitate to say ‘much better’ as I cannot shake from my mind those good old days when it was relatively easy to deal with such matters. One merely rang up the Company, rarely waited more than five minutes before being put through to speak to a LOCAL operator who knew the Company and it’s operations adequately well enough to be able to satisfactorily deal with your problem within a very short space of time. 
People under the age twenty five or thirty may have never encountered such quality of service so will maybe not know what I am talking about.

Back to that one Company that has a better system than all the rest; it is an internet and telecommunications Company called Westnet. 
Why is their system better you may ask? 
This is why they are better; 
Once you have gone through all the appropriate menu prompts they tell you how long the wait is and give you the option to leave your name and phone number. The message tells you that you will not lose your place in the queue and from much experience in doing this I have found that what they say is likely true as they invariably ring within ten minutes or so. 
But that ten minutes can be fruitfully spent doing something you consider far more entertaining, useful, or constructive than being glued with one ear and one hand rendered incapacitated whilst listening to inane information and/or terrible musak or a bigoted radio announcer. 
At least you don’t feel imprisoned by the Company.

So – I’d like to suggest that all these Call Centers offer such an option. 
It might work like this. You dial the company, choose the right menu prompt THEN leave your name and number which is logged in a queue. There should be no option to wait on the line for an operator. In other words, the operators would be dialing customers at the top of the queue. If you are unable to answer at that moment then they should try again after attending to the next in line. 
No more being imprisoned by the phone!!

In my next article I’m planning to advise you in how to assertively deal with Call Centre operators who just don’t seem so know what they are talking about. 
Keep posted.

By susan