DEAR CUSTOMER SUPPORT: YES, I’VE TRIED RESTARTING IT

This is for everyone, everywhere, who has ever had to get on the phone with a customer support agent. For all the time wasted listening to one jazz song on repeat over and over and over again endlessly. For all the poor souls trying to navigate through the dizzying maze of menus with only their voice. For all the phone batteries trying to keep up with the unusual increase of constant background activity. For all the family members who will get to relive the experience whenever their loved one is set free, or hung up on. For all the unresolved issues that will endlessly sit in the AI cloud because either the speaker was not able to successfully get to a representative, or they accidentally got yeeted out of the system by the robot for too many unsuccessful attempts to speak with a human – or because they gave up. For all the doodles that are created while waiting in the queue of troubled customers. And for all the food and alcohol that is stress consumed from being “on hold”.

You are not alone. I’m here for you. Having to contact customer support is one of the worst things that can get added to your to-do list. Besides, obviously, cleaning out the gutters, vacuuming the baseboards, and killing the spider that has decided to take up residence in the bathroom. Because you never have to get in touch if everything is just peachy. It’s usually due to a problem, or a frustration, right? Which puts you in an ideal mindset to have an adult conversation where good problem solving can occur and your active listening skills are professional level. 

When you’re frustrated, what’s something that won’t make you feel better? Giving commands to an AI machine. And not just giving commands – it’s more like one of two things: being given a multiple choice question where none of the answers are correct or talking to a brick wall. The menu is a million options long and none of them involve my most basic request to see what the current exchange rate of the Yen is?! Who is in charge of this? Or when you’ve made the educational guess that you belong in zero of the available categories and would like to speak to an actual human being so you can be more detailed about your issue (a.k.a really voice ALL of your complaints at once to someone who has to listen). Why is that harder than figuring out what in the world a jackfruit is? Where did it come from? How do you cut into it? What does one eat it with / how do you prepare it? Why is the outside so bumpy? Is that its protection from predators? What sorts of animals are endangering this fruit? Why does it look like it’s having a melon identity crisis? Is it more cantaloupe or honeydew? How do they get so big? Who first saw it and thought, you know what, that looks delicious and I want to eat it? These are all the questions I’m currently waiting on hold for to ask The Jackfruit Company. This one fruit is an endless sense of distress in my food life.

Anyways … when you finally get to speak to a representative, they usually ask you all the same things the robot just tortured you with. Account verification, what the issue can be generalized as, what the issue can be sub-generalized as, what the issue can be sub-sub-generalized as, if you’re a current customer, what your favorite color is, where you got those amazing new pants that show off all the work you’ve been putting in during leg days, when was the last time you ate a fruit, or a vegetable, did you try restarting it, etc. So … what was the point of going through the automated process if you have absolutely zero of the information that I’ve already provided? Do I have to now start my whole process over? Re-explain exactly why I’m calling? Try to ask for help without a hint of sarcasm, or hangriness, or giving away how annoyed I am?

Being a customer is challenging. Probably not as challenging as the customer service representative job, though. You get to experience every personality type … and mood. Whether you want to or not! My patience levels do not make me a good candidate for those types of positions. Didn’t stop me from trying for a few years, but I can’t honestly say that I miss it. Which is why I always try to remind myself that it isn’t their fault that I had to call in. They didn’t make, or break, the product that I’m currently unhappy with. They simply got stuck having to take my call. Meanwhile, I’ve upgraded my job status to one of those employees who is directly responsible for breakage and upset customers. Wow that is prime irony. Is that like the circle of jobs? Regardless, to all customer service representatives: I sincerely appreciate you, you are the real rockstars, and I apologize for all the work I will inevitably cause you and / or have caused you.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this and want to share it with them, that would seriously mean a lot to me. I’m so grateful to all the current readers and subscribers. If you want to get these in your inbox twice weekly don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for reading!


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THAT QUESTION SEEMS VERY GOOGLE-ABLE

What makes you think I know the answer to your question? Does my face scream “walking encyclopedia of all the knowledge”? Because I’ve seen myself in the mirror and I’m giving off more of a “confused about what even APR is and why they can’t just say interest” vibe. I find it interesting that this is a massive problem in my life currently. Usually I’m dressed like the retired high school jock who isn’t able to quite move on from the glory days and yet somehow that tells people that I want to answer their questions…nay, I KNOW the answers to their questions.

Despite my best efforts to convince strangers that I’m not the source of all truth in the universe, I get questions like:

  • Which chemical elements have to combine to form magnesium phosphate? Mag and Pho obviously, it’s the newest dining craze
  • How many seconds are in 4.5 months? A lot
  • What is the secondary material in dry fit clothing? Fabric
  • How many miles long is South Beach? More than one
  • When was the DMV founded? At some point in the past
  • Are Oreos safe for a dog to eat? Probably not, but I’m not an expert here
  • Is it possible to eat a large pizza by yourself? Wait, I do know the answer to this one! Absolutely
  • How would I create a replica electrical circuit that turns on a light? Why would you want to do that?
  • If my car engine is screaming at me, what does that mean? Well, not anything good
  • Can you give me the exact number of people who attended the 1984 Super Bowl? Let me think…no
  • Did we leave the oven on? Unfortunately, no one knows the answer to this. We have a 50/50 chance
  • Who ate all the chocolate? I also know the answer to this … but if I tell you I’d have to kill you. Death by chocolate
  • How would one repair a shoe sole? Buy a new shoe

If only there was some technology that could help you out…just one, I’m not asking for a lot, but one thing that is so intelligent it’s slightly scary. Hold on, let me Google it and see what they have to say about it. Oh! My! Goodness! It’s Google itself those narcissistic little nerds! Not a Google fan you say? Their color scheme is a bit too primary for your tastes? Never fear, you can work with Watson, or Alexa, or Siri. Better yet, don’t just stick with one – call up several of these genius robots and see what their answers are.

In all my free time, I like to play a little game I call AI: Jealous or Nah? Here’s how it works: you put several machines right next to each other and take turns asking them different questions. OK Google, tell me when I’ll make enough money to retire? Alexa, will I wake up tomorrow craving oatmeal or eggs? Hey Siri, tell me a joke. Then ask the same three questions, but change the recipient. By the end of it you get a pretty decent joke and some fascinating queries into your future. My theory? They’re listening to you abandon them for the others so they feel an intense need to one-up the competition.

With so many options, I genuinely don’t get how the Internet is not everyone’s first place to try and find an answer. Not humans. Besides, you get an answer so much quicker that way. If you ask me, my baby peanut-sized brain will have to go Google it…or Alexa it, or Siri it, or Watson it. Go straight to the source, that way you can keep searching until you find an answer. Don’t get mad at me, I’m reading the top result for your sorry self – no way am I scrolling to page two of the results. I have better things to do, like Google ways to keep yourself entertained on a ship. Or how to propel down from a third story window (in case of a fire, duh). 

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who loves to ask questions, do everyone a favor and introduce them to Google. Give someone an answer and they’ll keep coming back, but teach someone to search and they will never speak to you again. Thanks for reading!


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