Thursday, 20 December 2012

Call of the Wild ~ When Animals Attack

If I haven’t already made it painfully obvious (in actuality, I don’t think I have now that I think about it but), I hate my job.

I mean, people will always whinge in glee about how much they hate their jobs; how much they crave to sing “thank gawd it’s Friday” at the end of the week so that they can kick off their work boots and swap ‘em for a pair of trainers or kitten heels; and ultimately, how much they hate that Monday feeling when they have to drag themselves out of bed for another week long haul of daily grind. But I mean really. I hate it. And nowadays, it’s almost entirely the fault of the clientele.

Now I know quality customer service. I can feel it. Granted, I’m sure most people can. And I know how important it is in any business, but the more I work where I work, the more the quality that I acquired during my year stint as a coffee shop girl begins to dwindle. And while I have stated, and will continue to state, that difficult situations will make you stronger, there are just some situations that I feel are a little too mentally and emotionally draining. And while cock-ups are inevitable – we’re all human – some people just aren’t willing to compromise. And when things fail, they morph into sub-par human beings and scratch and hiss and roar at the top of their voices.

Now I’m not guilty. I’ve animorphed in the past. When there’s been a cock up at the doctor’s surgery or at the student loan’s company or a mysterious charge to my mobile phone bill, I’m the first person to call up somebody in demand to resolve the issue. Nevertheless, I rarely stay angry for long. I’m not a very confrontational person as it is and I tend to find what I lack in verbal skills, I make up for in writing (but I guess you guys can be the judge of that). Nevertheless, not everyone is like me. Some people are quick to point the finger at the first person they’re put through to without any real consideration as to where or who the problem lie with. And as I said, it seems natural to see red first before actual common sense sets in, but when you really think about it – does shouting really help the situation?

Example one. In the past, my internet service provider was TalkTalk. In my honest opinion, they’ve got nothing on Virgin or even Sky but they seem to be doing quite well apparently. We were having continuous problems connecting to the internet. So I called them up. According to them, there were no problems in the area and our connection was fine so I decided to call technical support who indicated the problem could be with my phone jack. I must have called them a number of times – insert issue number one; 0845 number = extra expense. As usual, you’re met with that annoying computerised voice when really you’re desperate to speak to an actual person – insert issue number two; automated phone calls equal further expense. I must have spoken to at least three different people – insert issue number three; lengthy discussions with relatively unhelpful staff – and by then I was getting frustrated. What can I say? I need my internet. Hello! My name’s Melissa. And I’m an addict.

Anyway, at this point, I decided to call customer services threatening to cancel my contract. I started off all guns blazing. And yet, the woman on the other end was really nice about it. Thus, the beast clawing to come out was restrained and after the entire conversation, I couldn’t help but think to myself – ‘Why am I getting mad at her for? She didn’t do anything’.

Ultimately, the situation and situations like this always seem to get resolved – even if it is for better or for worse. But I have to ask myself, what is the point of going in all guns blazing, when simply raising the issue in a firm, but diplomatic fashion works just as well?

Example two. Remember I said that I’d legally changed my name? Well I had to have my medical records updated. They issued me with a medical card which had spelt my name incorrectly so I contacted the designated channels and they said they’d rectify it. Low and behold, a week later, they issued me with a second medical card…containing the same problem. Great stuff.

Now I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but I figured I’d write them a letter about it and post the incorrect medical card back to them. A little under two weeks later, I receive a response indicating where the problem lie and that it would be rectified. A couple of days after that, my new card arrived. Problem solved. And I didn’t even need to get leery with anybody. A few words on a piece of paper and it was sorted. I’m seriously going to start adopting this method more often.

Now I’m not sure how it works in other cultures, but I’ve realised – heck, I know – that in the west, we are some of the most selfish sons of bitches ever. If the boat isn’t cruising smoothly, we’re gunning for somebody. We pick up our spears, don our war paint and start attacking the closest person in sight. And if it’s not that poor unsuspecting customer service representative from British Gas, it’s our nearest and dearest who have to put up with us, whether we take a minute or thirty to air out of grievances, or execute an unintentional tongue lashing because we’re a little more irritable than usual at that particular moment in time.

But while airing out grievances is a good thing – we’re humans, we’re social creatures; we need to vent – is howling uncontrollably the best method? It certainly might make some of us feel better, but rather than raise our own blood pressure and give that poor unsuspecting recipient a phenomenal ear ache, isn’t it easier to talk it out like civilised human beings?

Obviously, this is wishful thinking however. Not all those who work in customer service actually know how to serve customers. So we get frustrated with them, especially if we feel like we’re going around in circles. But after being on the receiving end of many a furious customer, whether it was genuinely my fault or not – I can’t help but wish for an ideal at times. Because I’m human. I want that rocky road to be void of craters. I want to live a stress free existence.

I want, I want, I want.

Ultimately, I think that’s the problem here. And so long as the heart wants what it wants, I’m sure that there'll be a time in the future where I’ll forget everything that I’ve written here just because some tosser overcharged me at the supermarket.

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