Reader Lindsay Willison sent me her article "10 Companies that Always Seem to Put You on Hold", naming basically any organization that a consumer is likely to call for service, ranging from the phone company itself to your insurance company, your cable provider, and even your health-care service.
Then there are those of us who no longer answer our own phones (guilty) because 80% of the calls are an unqualified* sales call.
I've met a number of people recently who carry two smartphones, one for family and actual friends, and the other for work. This way they can stream not just the calls, but also the e-mail. This shows just how polluted the phone lines have become with dreck of various sorts.
And it's not just the phone either -- I find that chat support if kind of like this too. There's one person chatting with multiple customers, and you have to twiddle your thumbs waiting for them to come back. (How many people can one person chat with I wonder?)
We like to complain about this, but really, what's the alternative? Because we sure don't want to talk to someone who doesn't know and can't help.
What might help:
- Sending a digital signal to your phone that shows you where you are in the queue
- Telling you where you are in the queue
- Not repeating that my call is important
- Letting me opt out of music by pressing a number key "press 1 for soft jazz, 2 for sales pitches**, 3 for complete silence"
More troubling, I find, is that after 15 minutes of doing something else while on hold, when the agent finally arrives, they are all focused and in a hurry, and expect me to be able to kick my brain rapidly into gear. And who can blame them -- they're being judged on a pile of metrics that relate to speed.
I'm not sure what the answer is here. What's your take?
*Unqualified sales call meaning I'm a poor prospect for their service and the whole thing is a complete waste of time for both of us because I'm not going to buy anything regardless of the quality or the frequency of the pitch.
**Okay, call them product updates if you want