On hold

This is going to be quick, because much of the topic has already been covered by others.

However, I think this is a new complaint in a crowded field. Call centres have found a new way to irritate their customers. It’s not the endless button pushing, the terrible hold music or the fact that anyone you do speak to will invariably be unable to help, it’s the drive-to-web message when you’re waiting. 

Save time, by visiting our website at …”, “Answers to many common queries can be found online at …”, “We are extremely busy, you may find the answer you need by visiting…” and so on.

I appreciate many customers will pick up the phone without thinking the problem through, hence the humorous complaints resolved by plugging the appliance in, turning the director’s commentary off or simply flipping the pizza over, but most people will only ring a company having given up online.

When companies cottoned on to the fact that using proper songs as hold music, it made a nice change, I remember my transforming from a raging lunatic to a serene Zen master spending time listening to Vivaldi while waiting for a telephone company to answer the phone. By the time I spoke to a real person, I’d almost forgotten what I was meant to be irate about.

However, all this has changed. Now you get a few seconds of music punctuated brutally at intervals by a chipper voice advising you to go online, as if it were the most novel idea going. If the message was a genuinely useful one, “Have you tried hanging up and going to the pub, we have customer service representatives in all major boozers who will be only too happy to help” or “Did you know you can repair your broken TV screen by clicking your fingers three times?” I’d be delighted.

A message to call centre owners:

If the internet is not the panacea to all the problems your customers face, please don’t feel the need to remind us it exists. Credit the majority of your customers with having thought about looking online before spending 20 minutes listening to Greensleeves, we don’t do it out of choice.

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About Sam Elfer

Blogging about writing
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