NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Anna Wintour uses er cell phone backstage during the Zac Posen show during Olympus Fashion Week Spring 2005 at the Theatre in Bryant Park September 10, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

 “Thank you for calling XYZ, Inc.” “Your call is very important to us.” “Please listen carefully as our menu items have changed.”

Customer service is one of my pet peeves. Mostly because most businesses are so bad at it. Companies do things that make things easier for them and in many cases sacrificing good service to the very people they depend on — their customers.

The automated phone calling procedures are a perfect example.

OK, Your Menu Items Have Changed

Why do I care that your menu items have changed? Is that really critical information to me?

If I call you often enough to know your menu items by heart then there is probably a bigger problem than your menu items. And why is this change so rampant? It’s almost impossible to call a company using phone automation than you don’t hear that the menu has changed. So appliances have moved from pressing two to four? Why?

Perhaps a date when the menu changed would be helpful. “Please listen carefully as our menu items have recently changed in May 2009?”

Tony and Marie?

When my button pushing navigation finally connects me with a living person it’s usually someone named Tony or Marie who are definitely not Italian. Not only is English not their first language, more likely it’s their 15th language.

If I can’t explain my problem in the exact wordage that’s on their screen then I am probably out of luck in getting my questions answered or my problem resolved.

Saving Bucks At Customer Expense

I can appreciate the savings that offshore customer support can save a company. But is it really a savings after I relate my bad experiences to anyone who will listen? Many of us have had to hang up and start over because of the communication gap.

I’m not sure how the training process works in India or Bangladesh but I would think someone who speaks English might evaluate how well potential operators can speak and understand it as a critical part of the hiring process. Apparently it’s not.

Some Final Thoughts

Do you cringe when you know you are going to have do battle with some company to get a suitable solution to your issues? I’m not sure that the company really wants that outcome for its customers. Yet, there is rarely a place where you can voice your concerns other than the company’s social media site.

Would you be comfortable pressing numbers on a keypad before you could enter a downtown store? Isn’t that what you’re really being asked to do? Companies want to be frugal and profitable. There’s nothing wrong with that. But at what expense?

Companies need to know if you had a bad experience dealing with them. Let them know that the menu of companies you deal have recently changed.