When you’re not the 80 percent

I’ve been thinking about customer service a lot recently and this recent exchange made me want to weep. A typical call with any centralised service who are setup to deal with the common 80% of enquiries ALWAYS seems to go like this:
ME: “Hello [in a chipper voice] I’m Zak and I’m calling because I have a [known] problem and you’re the service who can help”.
THEM: [Shuffling of script to react to non-threatening caller] “Good afternoon I’m ‘x’ how can I help today?”.
ME: “I have problem that I couldn’t find an answer to on your help and intranet pages. I know the search facility isn’t great and so the answer may be there but it’s easier to call than waste more time downloading and searching yet more word documents or pdfs [which is probably why that poor search engine largely gets a poor reputation] so i’m coming direct”.
THEM: “Shoot”.
ME: Lots of my clients [internal staff or public] have complained about one of our services that you manage and we need to resolve it as effectively and efficiency as possible. Can we have a non-standard thingy-doodle? as this is known to work elsewhere and there is little harm in experimenting as what we currently use is clearly failing to meet user expectations.
THEM: [Reading standard script] “No. The standard offering has been deemed the only solution”.
ME: “But failure to deviate from our current path is eroding our reputation”.
THEM: “Can I help you with anything else today?”  [Run infinite loop of unhelpful responses]

I often harp on about addressing the 80% of common issues first but this is a reminder that you still need a plan for the other 20%. If you aren’t aware of the Pareto principle check it out.

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