The Death of Customer Service: "Press 1 to RIP"

I was involved in a fender bender last week…..yes….it was my fault!

Anyway, I called the 800 number for our insurance company to start the claims process. I also started my own “slow burn” process.  (Side bar:  In another life, I sold voice mail/automated attendant equipment and services so I should have a great appreciation for this technology…..NOT).  “Thank you for calling today.  We appreciate your business….press “1” for new claims”…”press “2” if you know the name and extension of your claim agent”….”press “3” for towing and roadside assistance”….”press “4” to hear your choices again”…..

We all know the drill.  Eventually dialing “O” MAY get you to a live person…..don’t count on it.  After pressing way too many numbers and using four-letter words that I learned from Craig Ferguson, I finally got the name of our claim person.  Of course, her phone went directly into voice mail.

From a corporate standpoint, I understand the need to control costs.  Automated customer service programs look good on paper and spreadsheets.  From a customer standpoint, they are frustrating and time consuming. The last straw for me is the “all of our representatives are currently busy….please stay on the line and we’ll be with you when the next agent is free” There may be elevator music to listen to as you wait or if you’re really lucky you get to listen to a commercial about the personalized service the company offers!

I realize that we all want to save money and keep services competitive….I also realize that all those years ago when I worked for the technology company that created customer service automation I never dreamed I’d be the customer trying to use it.  We thought we’d given birth to a new breed of service that customers would embrace….instead we created a cold, uncaring distant female voice….RIP customer service.

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