Customer Care

Arshid Malik

Customer Care! Yes, that is the concurrent pass phrase for customers to extract support from companies and establishments from whom they have subscribed or purchased – very unfortunate and uneventful happening. The companies who sell or provide services and/or products are all in for providing support to the customers and they never care to acknowledge the fact that getting support from the customer care department is more difficult than breaking a coconut shell with your bare forehead. First there is the painful IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system which is a real pain in the neck since you have to deal with a system that is virtually lifeless and guides you through confusing mazes of numbers and figures which leaves you totally frustrated.

I have had very personal experiences with the customer care departments of various companies, whose products I have purchased – uneventfully – or am subscribing to. Every time I had to contact the customer care of a company I was utterly disappointed with first, the IVR and then the actual response of a person, a customer care executive whose accent is always very hard to comprehend. I have serious doubts whether the person at the other end of the line is actually a human being or some alien faking human voices. In one peculiar case, whether it is an alien or human, that is to customer care pertaining to information technology the tech guy has to put in a lot of effort and toil to get his point across to the caller as the caller is generally and thoroughly unaware of the system he or she had at hand. In one case a tech support guy received a call from a client. The conversation went like this… Tech Guy: How may I help you?

Customer: I cannot open my publishing software.

Tech Guy: Well, do you see an icon on the desktop that looks like a “W”?

Customer: Hey, you guys are brilliant. You can really see my computer screen from there…

But in case of other sectors, especially the mobile telephony sector, the customer care spells anything but care. You are led through tunnels of information and end up with nothing in your hand except the call charges levied in case it is not a toll free number. And the accent is so decent that you hardly get a word. This is one side of the coin. The other side is that some customer care executives speak with a brilliant accent but the delivery is so fast that the whole conversation doesn’t get you anywhere.

Now, the basic problem that generated this tertiary problem called customer care is cost cutting by companies based in the West. These companies out sourced their work to Asian companies and the companies which received the contracts in order to reduce costs they reduced the number of employees at the customer care department while increasing the lag time required to attend to a customer. Since there are thousands of customers calling the customer care department at a particular moment the dearth of executives at the customer care end inflates the time period within which an executive would attend you. In between placing a call and talking to customer care executive the IVR steps in and leads you around in mazes while earning credible time and you are left clueless for a large interval.

To get your work done at the customer care you have to be quite impolite and this is what I learnt through my encounters with the customer care section. Earlier I used to be very patient and decent with these customer care executives and I learnt that my decency and politeness never got me anywhere. So, I started cracking a tone with these guys and eventually got my piece of work done even though I land up quite upset about the whole episode at the actual end. But then there are customers who are too impolite with the customer care executive and mean to pull a leg. There are thousands of recorded customer-customer care executive conversations that leave you cracking up your sides.

Now, the whole facade of the customer care department is meaning to squander your valuable time and there is little you can do about it except approaching the customer care department again for redress and that really comes full circle. When that is done you can sit and relax while your compliant or request is being processed. And by the way, a few days ago a called up the customer care department of a particular MNC and after going through the juggleries of the IVR I got through the customer care executive after a lapse of 15 minutes and the line dropped. I had spend another 18 minutes connecting to the customer care executive who eventually after making me spell out my whole bio data registered my request and gave me a docket number. I asked the guy how soon my request would be processed and to this he replied, “24 to 48 hours, sir”. I chanced on asking the guy how many days that actually means and he said 7 working days as they only count the hours that they spend on the job leaving out a good part of the day. Lesson learnt.

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