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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

January 13, 2006

Sublime or ridiculous?

I've always been an advocate of politeness and other social cog-oilings, like respect and consideration for others.

I just read a post on Rafael's Useful Blog in which he talks about the veneer of customer service we get when we have to deal with call centres and other people over the telephone. He's absolutely right that this is so insincere it is almost painful.

It reminded me of a situation we had with Microsoft recently.

Without going into the politics of it all, it involved a major issue with a function of Microsoft Office breaking whenever we installed some other business critical software. The support call with Microsoft was live for about 6 weeks and we'd been passed through 5 different support people.

It came to a crunch yesterday and the conclusion from Microsoft was "don't use the other software", which as you can imagine was not really a very satisfactory solution, for us, to the problem.

The really funny bit is that, after effectively telling me that they couldn't resolve the problem, he then tried to make me happy.

Yes, he actually started arguing with me about the matter saying that I should be happy with the service they provided because the problem wasn't their fault.

"You have to understand my position sir. It is in my remit to keep all my customers happy..." and so on. Apparantly he wasn't able to close the call until I agreed that I was happy and satisfied with the service they had provided.

Now, the temptation to instigate protracted and excrutiating cruelty here was great, but in the end I got bored with arguing, so I said, dishonestly, "if it helps you then I will say that I am happy."

Of course, I got a follow up email. Check this out (boring details removed). Remember that the issue wasn't resolved...

It was my pleasure to serve you during your issue where you needed assistance in opening the hyperlinks using Outlook. I hope that you were delighted with the services provided to you. I am providing you with a summary of the key points of the case for your records. If you ever have any questions please feel free to call me. My contact information is listed below.

Based on our last conversation, I am closing this case. If this is premature or you are not satisfied with all aspects of this case please let me know as soon as possible.

Thank you for choosing Microsoft.

Delighting our customers is our top priority. We welcome your comments and suggestions about how we can improve the support we provide to you.

It almost sounds sarcastic doesn't it, but you have to pity the poor guy on the other end of the phone whose performance related pay probably depends on how much delight he seeds.

Sometimes happy isn't appropriate.

Have a nice day!


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