Everybody keeps banging on about the fact that the customer is king and customer satisfaction is top of every good organisation’s hit list. It’s a lie, in fact it’s a damned lie. And that is not a statistical fact, it’s a died in the wool certainty! They may SAY that the customer is king, but a few calls to a service department will soon put you right.

‘Sorry to keep you waiting, we are doing all we can to answer your call as quickly as possible!’

There are some statements that start to lose their credibility, especially when you hear them for the fifteenth time. At least that is the case for me when I recently rang an insurance company.

“Well, if you are really trying all you can, why not have some human actually pick up a bloody telephone instead of forcing me to listen to some endlessly cheerful and upbeat music.’ I muttered to myself as I hung on grimly.

You see they get you in a quite brilliant trap, especially those who have sneakily switched from a free phone call to one with a ‘National Number’ What a crock that is!

I found out to my cost on getting my latest phone bill that it had taken not just the best part of an hour of my life but a few quid from my pocket just to establish that a certain manufacturer no longer carried spare parts for whatever appliance it was that had most recently broken down!

And all the time I had been hanging on because I was pretty sure that I was moving up the queue of callers and so I was damned if I was going to let some other queue jumper benefit from my lack of patience. That is the cleverness of these phone people. They corral you and then carefully steer you through a whole series of little hoops and then keep you hanging on in desperation.

The really clever ones have a bright announcer who interrupts the latest jazz version of the Moonlight Sonata to announce that ‘You have now moved up three places in the queue and that an agent would soon be with you!’

‘An Agent?  What the Hell is this I am trying to get through to?  Have MI5 or the CIA or some other secret intelligence agency taken over the spares and repairs department for Industrial Washing Machines Inc?’  I don’t want a bloody agent, all I want is a guy in brown overalls with slightly greasy hands to say:

‘Yes mate, although it’s now over ten minutes old, we do have a spare flange and also the stickum that goes with it. I can get it posted out to you later today and that will be…..’

Now THAT is what I would call customer service. Forget all the taping things for training purposes. Just get me a bloke who knows which shelf or rack the damned things are kept on and who recalls that there were quite a few the last time he passed by on his way to having a crafty smoke out at the back of the stores!

I have yet to find a way of beating the automated system though and if any of you do, then could you let me know what it is I need to do. I promise that I won’t pass it on though. After all if everyone knew the way round the system then we would lose our edge wouldn’t we?

But, if you do have a sneaky way to solve the problem of the automated system and do let me know then there will certainly be something in it for you!  ‘Nuff said, say no more etc etc’