Dealing with a real person

We’ve all been there – phone the number, they start the automated guff – press one, two or three, calls recorded to be used against you but if you have a complaint, the recording is lost or expired, download our app [get knotted].

I was at the supermarket and self-serve after self-serve were barely used, customers were queuing at the few tills open, waiting to deal with a human.

Is there not a message in that for firms?

6 comments for “Dealing with a real person

  1. Twisted Root
    May 1, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Write a letter. Wait number of days you gave the organisation to respond. Write follow up letter promptly, restating your complaint and mentioning that you have sent a copy to the relevant regulator/industry body. The third letter goes to the chief executive along with copies of previous two.

    Now, one should always be polite but start out to the point and business-like and don’t whine about how the organisation’s failing has caused you loss or damage. This will cause them to use every trick in the book (and there are plenty) to wage a war of attrition until you get bored and go away. Don’t claim rights you don’t have. It will signal to them that you are not a serious threat. This means you need to do your homework and read and understand the contract and the relevant statute law.

    An increasing level of politeness as you escalate the process is very effective, so that by the time you are writing to the CEO you are praising the diverse sub-contractor at the Indian call centre for their attention and efficiency.

    Beyond stage three you have to commit to spending time and money in the full knowledge that whatever the outcome you will get a negative return. This is only recommended for sport and the pleasure of causing general chaos and confusion.

    Write and follow the plan or go the low time preference route and get fobbed off.

  2. bruce charlton
    May 1, 2019 at 10:09 am

    I used to think it was about saving money, but now I don’t think so. That’s just an excuse, which is often Not achieved, yet the automation is almost-never removed even when objectively worse, so long as it is broadly functional.

    Because (for example) the automated scanning tills have much slower throughput, and require supervision/ multiple interventions by several staff. In general automated systems are much slower, which mean that less work can be done per unit time.

    I think that, as almost always, we need to think first about the totalitarian agenda at the heart of all bureaucracy – we need to think Monitoring and Control. In automated systems everything is logged, everything that can happen is predetermined – everything can be audited.

    With automation (of anything, including driving cars and the like), management has potentially-total surveillance – and management is part of the single bureaucracy/ The System – and *that* is the primary drive.

  3. May 1, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Monitoring and Control – yes indeed.

  4. Stonyground
    May 2, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    I don’t mind the automated checkouts, once you get competent at using them they are quick and easy. I generally look at the checkout situation and make a decision about which type of checkout is likely to be quicker. If I have a lot of stuff in my trolley I tend to go for the manned checkout but for smaller loads the self service one is often the quickest option.

    • Pcar
      May 4, 2019 at 12:59 am

      Yep, same here

      Sex, posture, appearance, age etc of queue and tilll operator also factored in

  5. May 4, 2019 at 8:55 am

    In Oz a complaint can, if you are smart, trigger ‘costs’ to the company. We have Ombudsmen for virtually everything as our sales laws are very clear about Seller-responsibility. If you complain to a store or service provider and do not get a response, (or is contact is made difficult) a complaint via email to the relevant ombudsman is enough to start the charge process. Each complaint is billed to the provider or store. No limit is placed on the number of complaints. So you can send an email every day until the matter is resolved and the provider has to pay the ombudsman for every one. The rate is around $25. It may take a while, as you detail, to get satisfaction but he cost accruing to the reluctant provider or difficult store can escalate quickly so there is an ‘incentive’ to resolve it damned quick.

    Many people are unaware of this cost process. Those that are……

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