Of all the thankless jobs out there, and there are many, staffing customer service telephones must rank near the top (or the bottom) of the list. Imagine dealing with irate customers all day long, trying to fix tricky problems while maintaining a professional and affable tone. Not easy. That’s why, when I find myself in a pickle, dependent on the expertise of a customer support pro, I try to stay cool, polite and cheery. But sometimes …
A few days ago, my email service went on the blink. I tested the connection and found that e-mails were going out, but none were incoming in. Stumped, I called my service provider’s tech support department.
Someone with an unpronounceable name that sounded like Tim or Pim or Pit took my call. He spoke so fast, I never did get it straight. No problem, I thought. As long as he knew his way around an email bug.
Unfortunately, Pit-Pim-Tim sounded as though he’d had one too many energy drinks and couldn’t seem to get out of overdrive. He spoke so fast and tossed in so much tech jargon that I was lost in record time. I tried to follow, I really did. Concentrated, listened hard, nearly burst a blood vessel with the effort.
I finally lost it when he ordered me to go to the Internet then said something about a URL. “You know, an address!” he barked. Then he started rattling off said address. I asked him to repeat, slowly this time.
Big sigh from Pit-Pim-Tim. “You do know where to find the address, don’t you?”
He resumed his dictation in a rapid fire staccato. I had no idea what he was saying. I interrupted him and asked him to slow down, again, and to repeat the address. Again.
He finally got the picture. And he was not pleased. He started over, this time in a loud, drawn out way as if I were hearing impaired and addled. “N as in Nancy, E as in enemy …”
“No,” he said, “E as in enemy.”
I thanked him for his time and hung up. And fumed. E as in enemy?
Here is one of those “if only I had the courage to do it” e-mails:
Thank you for your assistance. With your help, my email service has been restored. I am grateful.
On another only tangentially related topic, might I make a suggestion? Instead of improvising on the alphabet and coming up with “E as in enemy” (an unfortunate but perhaps not entirely unintentional linkage), here is a well-known phonetic alphabet that works as a useful spelling aid: NATO Phonetic Alphabet. If you prefer a more civil option, try the Western Union Phonetic Alphabet.
Or, hey, how about this little list I whipped up especially for you: