It must be Friday.

I just spent the past twenty-five minutes on-hold listening to elevator music.

The funny thing is that when the call was first answered, I was told this call might be recorded for quality service purposes.

When I finally managed to get through, the service was pretty lousy.

Aside from the 25 minute wait, the person on the other end was unwilling to help, or budge, or break protocol, or reason with my requests. The answers were canned and rehearsed. I felt like I was talking to a robot.

After I realized I would get nowhere, I decided to cut my losses and move on. Yet she still had the nerve to try to sell me on an “exclusive offer.”

I wish at least the initial message had been honest.

These calls are intended to waste your time, but make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Later tonight you can tell all your friends how firm and demanding you were with us. You can tell them how we bowed down to your requests and gave you some extra credit, or took a few bucks off your bill. (which wasn’t really credit by the way, it’s junk we give away to anyone like you. And we’ll tack a few extra bucks on your bill for this type of thing anyways…”system access fees” (It’s part of our contingency plan). We honestly don’t give a crap about you until you stop paying your bills. Screw off and have a pleasant day.

So are they really recording or monitoring the calls? Are they busting them out at staff parties? Who’s the joke on here?

The whole experience got me to thinking about Zappos. Zappos is known to be the leader of exemplary customer service. I wrote about Zappos a few weeks ago.

Just for fun, I called Zappos shortly after my first call. I wanted to see how their phone process works.

Press 1 for help with clothing.

Press 2 for help with shoes.

Press 5 for the joke of the day.

Or, just stay on the line. This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.

I decided to stay on the line. In less than 10 seconds, I was greeted with a happy and cheerful voice.

“It’s a great day at Zappos, you’ve reached Kalina. How can I help you?”

I told Kalina that I didn’t want to buy anything; I just wanted to hear how they answer their phones.

We had a laugh, a quick chat about what I was doing. She proceeded to ask me if there was ANYTHING else she could help me with, and then with another giggle, she told me to go have myself a great weekend. I wished her the same, and we parted ways.

It was a genuine human connection. I felt connected to the person on the other end.

Ten seconds or 25 minutes?
No Script or Script?
Humans or Robots?

The business lesson is huge, and the time invested is minimal. Sure, you could read a hundred books on “how to improve customer service”, or you could make two phone calls and compare them for yourself. Once you’ve done that, the solution is simple – strive to be like the second one.

Or even simpler, just show you friggin care.