Holding pattern - The Orca

Holding pattern

Jody w Glasses 1

Jody Vance: When contacting a major organization, it should be possible to speak to a living, breathing human being.

Thank you for calling, this is Sandra, how can I direct your call?

Today I am nostalgic for “Sandra”, the customer service front-liner of days gone by. I miss having a human answer my call when doing day-to-day life maintenance.

Call the city; automated.
Call the bank; automated.
Call the non-emergency police number; automated and forwarded to hired call centre completely disconnected from law enforcement.

Don’t even get me started on the hours spent simply trying to connect service with one of the big telecoms! I can see you nodding. You too have felt this pain.

We all have stories of being on hold for an hour, or more, only to be cut off by the “press one” prompt. When did “press zero to reach the operator” disappear?

It’s an understatement how far down the slippery slope automated phone systems have slid, and with it any semblance of actual customer/client satisfaction. Things are bad.

Instead, today you enter your number, and then say “yes” or “no” to automated prompts…only to be put on hold for an hour before being cut off for no discernible reason.

This week’s Middle is a call to reinstate the receptionist. Can the great reset please include a dialling back to simpler times where one could press zero and get a human?

Yes, you heard me. You need not even press one for the main menu. The path to reopening, the trek back to work – the big reset – should add this human want to the list of improvements. Workforces need the places and spaces to get a start, and frontline customer care is the ideal place to train your next generation managers. There’s been a shift of entry level jobs being automated, from fast food outlets, to self checkouts, to bank machines and online banking.

Take a second to conjure up the memory of making a call and actually getting help. After being starved for human connection on every level, wouldn’t it be nice to return to that?

I want people. This Middle demands a return to people – at the very least on public or taxpayer funded services.

Maybe I’m old and this is the equivalent of my generation’s flashing 12:00 on the VCR, but I don’t care. I want a human to answer my customer service query, to take my call about service disruption, the curious charge on my account, or simply take the details on an issue I’m having. I want to leave a message and get a call back. I want to hear that my loyalty is rewarded and returned.

Spending hours on hold is a broken business model. Live receptionists could very well become your company’s new selling point: Call us now, and talk to an actual person!

The right people helping customers or clients could, and I think should, become a difference-maker.

Is this a hard hitting Op-Ed? No. It’s the middle ground between executives looking for efficiencies, and a living wage position for someone who might just be the key to customer retention…and those caught in the middle.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.