My New Phone Support Benchmark

In this networked day and age, we only realize how much we depend on our numerous technical gadgets when they fail. Thankfully, telephone hotline support is just a few digits away, and we have all come to love the competent, patient, and friendly support folks at the other end whose main goal in life is to help us in our hours of techno-gadget need. No, I am serious!

A few months ago, I convinced my parents to switch their landline contract from the old monopolist T-Com to Arcor, choosing a double-flat rate package: the phone flat rate is great for my parents, and the Internet flat-rate is great for me when I visit them. Unfortunately, the phone line went dead recently while I was at my parents’ house (without any wrong doing from my side, mind you!). Time to call tech support. Here’s the timeline of that call:

10:32 Dialed Arcor tech support and was asked to enter the phone number and birth date via the keypad.
10:35 Phone is picked up by a female support person, who is competent, friendly, and patient, and asks all the right questions. She promises that Arcor would get back to us within 12 hours.
10:42 Call’s finished.
11:10 A test call reveals that the phone line’s working again.

Let me recap: it took a single, short call; I waited only a few minutes before being connected to a human; the conversation with that human was a pleasant experience; the problem was fixed in about half an hour. Amazing.

Unfortunately, this experience has one severe negative side effect: it puts my future benchmark for support calls extremely high. I mean, who hasn’t had their fair share of shockingly bad customer service with incompetent, stupid, and rude call center morons, about whom you could not even file a complaint because you would have to go through their very phone number to do so? Now that I have seen that it is possible to provide exactly the quality service you’d expect, how can you not be even more disappointed, and get even angrier, when you are connected to yet another call center from hell next time?

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  1. Francis Pressland

    Wow, you were lucky. I too use arcor and have had very mixed results. I have had problems sorted within hours [never as fast as your record breaking incident] but I have also sat holding the line for more than 30 mins. listening to the very annoying little tune they play at you which reminds me somewhat of the game we all played as LITTLE kids, of poking your head into the room and saying “Boo”. YOu were lucky, or maybe I have been unlucky so far…

  2. Jochen Wolters

    Maybe I was lucky, Francis, but maybe it was just a case of someone taking their job and their customers seriously.

    As you can tell from your own experience, when you do resort to calling a support hotline, you never know how good a support service you’ll receive until after the call. Which begs the question what all that hoople about “monitoring this call for quality assurance” is about.

    As users of high-tech service providers, we have been dealing with lousy customers service for so long, so it seems that all that QA doesn’t do much good. To put it another way: I wouldn’t want to know what customer support would be like if that QA monitoring does have an effect, and what we get now is the best these companies can offer?!

    Before going down that line of thought, let’s keep that lady in mind that I talked to. Good customer service is possible, and the companies providing it should ask themselves what they can do to motivate the majority of their employees to perform on that level as Miss Benchmark.