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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Customer Service


Customer Service is a bellwether for our educational system, like the spotted owl once was in the forests of Northwest America or the canary in a coal mine.  Where do I start? Okay, let me ask you, What has been your experience with customer service?
Ticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktock…
I taught for a long time in public and private schools. The hallmark for any good educational success was when students explained their choices, could argue a good point, and could solve problems. I retired when this became extinct and multiple guess tests became the norm.  We don’t know why a student chose a or b or c or d because we don’t ask. Now we have customer service folks who can’t solve problems because it is not a choice on their menu of things they can do. Problem solving has been thrown out the window for what appears on a computer screen as an answer to input. They haven’t been taught how to think or problem solve, they have been taught to memorize and choose an answer from one of four choices. As America becomes more of a service economy, customer service must improve. But it will only improve if we resume teaching in schools and not continue with this mindless teach to the test form of schooling which is starting to show its results in customer service.  Now if you don’t believe me, call your insurance company or any other business with which you interact and pay attention to the maze you must wander in.
The experience starts when you have to get through the first gauntlet of voice recognition or a menu of options not suitable for your call. Asking for an agent or representative can be daunting. Voice recognition on most sites sucks. Too many times the choice you want, speaking to a human, is not available. Once when we called a business we got a human, now we get automation. How does this help fix unemployment? Here’s a place where we could add more jobs. Human jobs have been lost to automated answering machines. Sad. Fix it 45.
The next gauntlet is getting a human. Even as we deal with a human, we are witnessing the decline of education in America. These humans just don’t know how to solve simple problems any more and that’s very sad. We have to go up a chain of command to find resolution.
The third step is speaking to a supervisor. In half the times I have gotten to this step, I have finally gotten a resolution after much interaction. In the other half, I find a letter to the Customer Service department is necessary. Resolution takes the customary four to six weeks.
This is how we solve problems in America today. I thought computers were going to make our lives better. Gosh, was I naïve.
Our educational system has failed us and it is getting worse. We have accommodated education for the evaluators and not for the evaluatees, the students. It is easier to assess a multiple guess test than it is to evaluate essays. That is now the problem in America, we took a short cut and are now paying for not working hard. We have forgotten to ask why in school and we have certainly not allowed our students to show us how except to be sure to bubble in that little circle completely.
After that arduous customer service experience, there is that ubiquitous survey you can do after your, “I need a drink now experience” with customer service. Just shoot me now.
Oh, and why can’t coal miners learn a new trade like making solar panels or wind mills of electric cars?

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