anne_mikolay_120This morning, after nearly two hours on the telephone attempting to resolve a billing problem with a major telephone/internet provider, I have concluded that true customer service is non-existent. The only thing I accomplished this morning was memorizing the provider's mantra: “Thank you for choosing ______. We appreciate your business and have a nice day.” Their apparent lack of knowledge, attention, and assistance threatens to ruin my day.

When I worked on Wall Street, back in the “preppy” days, we were taught never to utter the words “I don't know” to a customer; the customer came first, and guaranteeing client satisfaction was paramount. Nobody dreamed of transferring a client in need to somebody else; if a client called with a problem, then I had a problem, too, which I dedicated myself to solving. In our present technological, automated society, service providers seek the easy way out, as I discovered today while being transferred from person to person to person to person. The entire automated telephone system stimulates frustration; when you finally reach a human being, they either speak a language only Charlie Sheen would understand or they put you on infinite hold. Today's Ignoramus Award goes to the telephone/internet representative who suggested that since a poor telephone connection (how ironic!) made it difficult for us to hear one another, I should conduct my business on line. She hung up on me before I could respond!

What have I learned from today's less than pleasant experience? I now realize that there are two kinds of customer service representatives: the “professionals,” who listen and try to be helpful, and the customer service “robots,” who don't listen and hand you off to a fellow “robot.” (“Thank you for calling _____. We appreciate your business and have a nice day.”) Additionally, I have learned there are two kinds of customers: the patient, polite individuals who steadily navigate the convoluted, automated highway of customer service, and the less than patient group who succumb to frustration and throw in the towel, but not before telling the customer service and finance departments they are idiots. Yours truly is a member of the latter population.

What am I then? A no-nonsense consumer who insists upon quality service, or a short tempered customer as ignorant as the service reps I criticize? I can say only one thing for certain: I do not possess the patience required to methodically pursue the apparently extinct ingredient of business, quality customer service.

Oh, yes. I learned one more thing: I'm canceling my account with this particular telephone/internet provider, because they obviously don't appreciate my business. Now I will have a nice day!