I’m a journalist, so I’m always working under some kind of deadline pressure. I need to have that story filed by Wednesday at 2 PM or I’ll get a stern warning from the boss. If my Web story isn’t posted on the site by 3 PM, I might as well not bother writing it at all. I need to conduct that interview before 10 AM on Tuesday or the person I really need to speak with for my story will be on a flight to Eritrea, where he’ll stay for three months working with the Peace Corps, without phone or email access, of course.
But I’ve recently decided to change my tactic for dealing with my editors, taking a page from customer service at some of the New York metropolitan area’s top utilities. With my phone service dead now for the second time in the last two months, I’m stuck waiting for a service technician to come to my house on Friday. He’ll be there between 8 AM and 6 PM.
I’m house-sitting for my parents for a few weeks and their cable TV went out. The cable provider’s technician will be there on Saturday between 10 AM and 5 PM.
I’m not looking for anything unreasonable from these service providers. I just want someone to come fix the high-definition channels at my parents’ house and to fix the phone and Internet service at my house in a timely fashion. In theory, I don’t have a problem waiting for technicians to show up, but I’m being asked to take entire days sitting idly by while I wait for technicians who will probably show up late or not at all.
So as for my story that’s due on Wednesday afternoon, I’ll have it completed between Monday and Friday, and I’m showing up for work between 9 and 5 on Monday. If you want to change these times, you’ll have to call my toll-free number, state your name, employer ID number, and the nature of your request. You’ll be placed on hold for a half-hour (with some very catchy tunes to distract you during this time). I’m hoping you’ll get frustrated and hang up, but should you opt to wait in the queue, I’ll eventually transfer you to my voicemail, where you’ll be asked to state your name, employer ID, and the reason for your call. The call will be monitored for quality-control purposes, and rest assured, it is important to me.
Anyone else detect some serious customer service flaws in the logic here? I wish I was kidding when I say that’s what passes for customer service today, but both scenarios are real. So, I’m making waiting my new part-time job, and I’ll get around to starting that job some time tomorrow afternoon between 1 PM and 7 PM, maybe.