Thursday, March 18, 2010

Perkiness wins every time!

From Wikipedia:

Customer service is the provision of service to customer before, during and after a purchase.

According to Jamier L. Scott. (2002), “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.

I have been working in customer service, in some capacity, since I was 15 years old. I've been a cashier, a sales assistant, a hotel clerk/night auditor and even the work I've been doing in the health care industry is a form of customer service. I learned very early on that there are some very important aspects to providing top notch customer service:

The customer is always right, even when they're full of shit and totally wrong. You must pretend that you worship the ground they walk on and will move mountains bigger than Everest to make them happy. You won't, but they need to believe you will.

It doesn't matter how crappy a day you've had, you must plaster a smile on your face and pretend the world is full of fluffy bunnies with rainbow coloured candies falling out of their asses. Your husband's been boinking the milkman? Your son is failing high school and your daughter's been hooking for extra drug money? No one gives a flying rat's be cheerful when you're at work. Turns out this also counts in a call centre which is where I discovered that a smile CAN be heard through the phone. Thankfully me flipping you the bird, cannot.

Don't know the answer to a question? You have two options. If you're really good (and the customer in question is somewhat dim), you can waffle your way through and no one will be the wiser. Usually the better option to pick is the one where you swallow your pride and go find someone who DOES know the answer before the customer decides to smash your head into the counter.

As a customer service agent, the face and voice of the company you work for, those three things are really all you have to remember to get by. Sure, knowing how to count and speak to people without throwing up helps, but those are the main things. A trained freakin' monkey should be able to manage it.

So, pause for a moment and imagine this scenario..

I was in a part of town today that for some reason does not have any ATMs from my bank. In fact, there is only one ATM at all in this area. I needed the cash so I sucked up the fee and stuck my card in. Punched a few buttons and followed the instructions. Out popped my card and my $40. Take the card, reach for the money and......



MOTHER CHUCKER!!! What. The. Hell. Man?!

Stupid machine just sucked back my $40.

Ok. Breathe.

Ohhhh look! An 0800 number! Cellphone out, dial number, go through a million and ten menu options to finally get through to customer service...

Customer Service Rep (male): Thank you for calling Greedy Bank, my name is Dillwad, how can I help you today?

Me: Hi, I just used my Awesome Bank card in your Greedy Bank machine and it pushed my money out as requested and then sucked it back before I could take it.

CSR: Oh I'm sorry, my system is down right now and I can't actually help you. Please hold while I transfer you to someone who can.


Dial number, go through the million and ten menu options again....

CSR: Thank you for calling Greedy Bank, my name is Dillwad, how can I help you today?

Me: Hi. You just disconnected me. Could we please try this again?

CSR: Yes ma'am, one moment while I transfer you to someone who can help you.

Annoying Menu From Hell: Press 1 for Balance, Press 2 for Sanity Sucking, Press 3 for Lobotomy.

I hang up, dial the number AGAIN and just sit patiently through the menu options AGAIN until it connects me to yet another rep.

CSR #2 (female): Gooooood morning, thank you for calling Greedy Bank, my name is *mumble mumble*, how may I be of assistance today?

Me: Ah. Yes. I used my Awesome Bank card in your Greedy Bank machine to try and withdraw $40. It spat the money out and then sucked it back in.

CSR2: Oh. Well. There's probably not enough money in the machine to complete the transaction.

Me: But it gave me the money. It pushed out the $40 I asked for and before I could take it, not even 10 seconds later, it sucked it back in.

CSR2: Yes. There's probably not enough money in your account to cover the money you asked for.

Me: *sigh* But it gave me the money. And I'm holding a receipt in my hand that shows my balance and there's definitely enough money there.

CSR2: Yes, like I said, there must not be enough money in the machine to allow the transaction to complete.

(I wish strongly for the technology that would allow me to bitch slap a person while talking to them on the phone from miles away)

Me: Ok. But. I'm sitting here talking to you and I've just watched four people walk up to the machine and withdraw money. Significant amounts of money.

CSR2: Ugh. You're. Not. Listening!! I'm saying that there must not be enough money in your account to cover the money you asked for.

(Can someone help with that bitch slap technology?)

Me: Again. I'm holding a receipt that says I have enough money.

CSR2: *raising her voice* You're. Not. LISTENING!! The machine must not have enough money to cover the transaction.

Me: *raising MY voice* First....don't speak to me that way and second, I've just watched ANOTHER four people withdraw money from the machine. And it GAVE me the $40 I asked for. And then it sucked it back.

CSR2: *shouting now* LISTEN!! There's obviously not enough money in your....

I hung up. (And no, it didn't occur to me until after the fact to ask for her supervisor. I'm slow like that.)

There's just so many ridiculous, circular arguments I can take before I get dizzy and fall over, and not in an "oooh I've had to much gin and feel all fuzzy and awesome" kind of way. Is it just me or was the stupid douchecanoe just going around and around in circles? I was about ready to drive blunt needles through my eyes by the time I hung up on her.

So then I whipped out my card from Awesome Bank and dialed their number. Sadly, as is the case with most institutions nowadays, I had to sit through another Annoying Menu From Hell. But within a minute I was through to yet another rep in a call centre.

Awesome Bank CSR: GOOD morning! Welcome to Awesome Bank, my name is Perky Bubbles, how may I help you today?

Me: Oh I hope you can. Greedy Bank ATM took my money back and the supremely unhelpful wench in their call centre likes to argue in circles without producing any great results. Not even a crop circle. What can I do?

A-B CSR: Oh that's easy! I'll just fill out one of these super easy dispute forms, send it off to the Greedy Bank Powers That Be, and in about two or three days you should have that cash credited back to your account.

Me: Um. Wow. Thanks?

A-B CSR: Happy to be of assistance ma'am.

And that, folks, is how it's done. Perky to the rescue.


In other news, on Saturday I will be launching a GIVEAWAY!! You can have the chance to win a prize valued up to $75 from CSN Stores. So stay tuned and make sure to check back and enter lots!


I'm also over at Looking For My swing on by and say hi.

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  1. I love this post. Partially because I've been on the bad end of customer (dis)service and partially because I work for a financial institution.

    Of course, from an HR perspective, just imagine the candidates they DIDN'T hire at Greedy Bank!

  2. This is a great post! I've learned over the years what I can bullshit my way through, and when I need to admit defeat and say "I don't know..but give me a sec and I'll find someone that does". It really is a talent.

    Please let me know if you make any headway on that bitchslapping someone through the phone. That would be a handy dandy talent to have!!

  3. Oh, yeah. And Awesome Bank have themselves a happy customer. How hard was that?

  4. Well written!!
    I really would love the bitchslapping technology too... Oh how I could use that!

    I don't miss working customer service because I am extremely honest.
    When asked "How are you?" I usually tell the truth which didn't always fly real well some days.
    Perky bitch, not good at that.

  5. Holy crap what a nightmare!! I hate HATE HATE poor customer service. That is the one thing that will make me stop frequenting a business. I will even pay a higher price for something if the service is good.

  6. Imagine the hits you would get if you made a video of that bitch-slapping button at work.

    Business is down so low all over the US that companies are falling all over themselves to provide extraordinary customer service. It really can be amazing, and I feel certain it will not last.

  7. I stil work in customer service...being a teacher you have to please administration, parents, and students on a daily, if not hourly basis. There have been times that I had to swallow my pride and do what I thought would help the student to become an ally in the long run. I hear ya sister.

    I used to work at Wal-Mart, which according to my Sister Pootie causes everyone (shoppers and workers alike) to loose IQ point the minute they walk in. My motto while I worked in the jewelry section was F the rules, do what makes the customers happy. I even had one customer tell me once that he had never encountered a person as smart as me ever in that Wal-Mart, all because I was willing to read the directions and set the watch for him the first time, instead of saying here, read and DIY.

    Perkiness, smiles, willingness to help, willing to admit you are wrong (and maybe you are not) all come with real customer service.

    GREAT Post.

  8. There's no winning on either end of customer service. People are idiots.

  9. I'm so proud of you. You didn't shout any expletives at them! Well done! I think I need to take lessons from you...

  10. It's true what they say - you catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

    One of my personal favourites "a customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care".

    Some people really don't deserve to have jobs!

  11. Thank goodness for Miss Perky! It's amazing to me what some so-called customer service reps think they can get away with. Kudos for seeing it through to satisfaction!

  12. Oh girl that is crazy! I'm like you been working in Customer Service for so many years and it's key. Most of my day is calling clients and some may not always be the nicest but you just have to smile threw it, hang up and say what you wanted to say ... LOL

    I hope you got the money back!!

  13. Customer service is SO important to me. One of the most important things a company should do well in my opinion! : )

    I saw your comment at Twenty Four at Heart about photographing children and I came over to tell you just a tiny bit about my experience : ) You asked if you should get a big fancy schmancy camera. Well, of course, if you have funds for a big camera you will love the pictures you can take with it, but if you do not, here are some ways you can rock whatever you have when photographing children. Don't tell them to look at the camera. Just follow them around and start clicking. They might not look at you for a while, or they might stare at you a lot, either way, you will get lots of great shots to pick from : ). Some people love candids. I know that a lot of my favorite pictures are unposed! Also, the more you click, the better the chance you will have of getting a picture you love. Good luck in your photography endeavor! So nice to meet you via the blogging world!

  14. Congratulations you mad woman you! This is fabulous news. I can only hope one day to achieve the amount of recognition and attention that your writing has garnered. Thanks for checking up on my blog, means the world :)

  15. I am a call-center who&%, and I have had to put a smile on my face while pretending to shoot myself, flipping the caller off, mimicking the whiny face, but always do it with a freaking smile.

    I must say, though, that I LOVE LOVE LOVE when the customer thinks they are right and fight fight fight, until I calmly prove them wrong. At which point I truly am smiling as I say "is there anything else I can do for you?"

  16. Roflol, I LOVED your blog post! I think we must both have accounts at "Greedy Bank." :) After they lost my deposit, I found out that they are not only incompetent but they charge $3.50 each time you call their customer service line. :P


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