When Alexander Graham Bell invented telephone in 1875, did he have any inkling of the overarching influence his invention would have on the world of business? Now telephone stands as a golden mean between the demanding and wasteful physical contact and the cold and impersonal medium of mails. It has the ‘human touch’, the immediacy of the message and two-way flow of the communication, in addition to the fact that distance does not matter to it. No wonder modern business has lapped up the machine as the most ideal tool for furthering customer service.
Just wait for a second. If you unconditionally agree to whatever I have said so far, then in all probability, you do not use telephones, or its modern avatar, mobile phones. If you use them, like all of us do, then you probably have your pockets full of complaints about the use of telephones/ mobiles in customer service.
Here is a sampling of my bitter tales. The toll free numbers starting with 1800 look very enticing till you key in the numbers. The number punching never stops: you are to make choice of your language, the service that you want, your identification, validity of your card, all these in numbers. Anything that can be represented in numbers is extracted from you. Due to unsteady fingers/ fading lights/ lack of clarity or your plain nervousness you falter and punch a wrong number and your woe gets doubled, you start the punching game all over again. If you are efficient and lucky enough to punch the right keys you reach at the doorstep of the customer service executive. Your whole purpose of the day was to talk to this gentleman/ lady with a golden touch, so why this clutter, you wonder.
With your heart leaping in delight you wait for the executive to respond and right all your wrongs, when the mechanical voice reminds you “Sorry, our customer service executive is busy responding to other customers’ calls, you are in a queue, you will be attended shortly”. Good enough, you comfort yourself as the computer switches on the piped music to relax your tensed nerves. After a while the music stops and you hope to hear the human voice at last, but no, the earlier announcement is played out once again: you are still in the queue,, some more music. This game goes on and on, and if you have not yet banged the phone out of exasperation, you hear a voice indicating that your saviour is at hand. But he does not accept you at your face value, he wants proof. You ferret out your mother’s maiden name, your date of birth, your PAN Card number and so on. On passing this identity test you speak out your problem to the executive. After a lot of Q & A you are told that you had to visit the City Customer Care Centre to resolve your issue.
"Is there anything else I can do for you? Thanks for calling.....Have a nice day", you hear the voice taunting you.