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Your call is important to us……..

July 9, 2014
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

There is a giant among us. Its' name shall not be spoken here; we'll simply call it "Humongous Cable Company." They employ more people (in India or Pakistan, apparently) than the populations of many countries, and they have more money than God. Since they are obviously so much more successful than I am, their modus operandi must be superior to my own. I therefore wonder if I would be more successful if I emulated their method of handling incoming phone calls.

For instance: John Doe has a broken car. He calls our number. "You have reached DeHays Automotive, your call is important to us, however not important enough for us to actually answer the phone, so don't hang up and someone will eventually answer with a nearly undecipherable accent, in the order in which the call was received. Thank you for calling and have a nice day." Followed by a dial tone.

Undeterred, John calls again. "Thank you for calling DeHays Automotive. Please enter your 17 digit VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) followed by the pound sign, also called a hash-tag, or a "numbers" sign, depending on your age." John goes out to his car and eventually finds the VIN and transcribes it over his touch tone phone. "Thank you. If you have a problem with non-starting, press one. If you have a problem with overheating, press two. If your have a problem with an unwanted noise, press three. If you have a problem with a leak, press four."

John presses four. "If your leak is radiator coolant, press one. If it is power steering fluid, press two, if it is transmission fluid, press three, if it is engine oil, press four. If it is brake fluid, press five, if it is gasoline, press six."

John presses six. "If the gasoline leak is under the tank area, press one. If it is under the engine area, press two, if it is on fire, hang up and dial 911." John tries to press two, but misses and hits three, which wasn't in the program. "Thank you for calling DeHays Automotive. If you would be willing to answer a short survey please hang up and redial, pressing nine at the prompt." John throws his phone against the wall.

John's wife, Jane, makes the next call, chastising her husband for his lack of patience and garrulous attitude. "It's as simple as calling the cable company with a problem. Millions of people do that every day. How hard can it be?"

After about 20 minutes going through the same motions John had gone through, Jane got a promise for an appointment to get the car repaired. "The next available appointment time is one week from next Tuesday, sometime between eight a.m. and four p.m. If that is acceptable, press one. If that is not acceptable, press two." Jane presses two because they need quicker service. "The alternative to your first offered appointment time is two weeks from next Tuesday. If that is acceptable, press one, if you would like to wait even longer, press two. We didn't get a response to the last offer. If it is acceptable, press one, if you would like to wait even longer, press two. Your response sounded like a phone hitting a wall. Was that a one or a two? Thank you for calling, would you like to answer a short survey."

I can't wait to try my new, improved customer relations technique. Just think, we won't have to answer the phone anymore, or deal with pesky questions. Why didn't I think of this 40 years ago? All I have to do now is get people to send me money each month, and I'll be as successful as Humongous Cable Company, making money by the ton. But, when I get my mega yacht, you can bet it will have satellite.

On second thought, I'll keep answering the phones, and settle for a smaller boat and a cell phone.



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