I hate to make mistakes. I know I am human. I tell myself we all make mistakes. But big or small, consequential or meaningless, they bum me out. The worst kinds involve watching a simple slip-up cascade into a growing series of headaches.
The latest involved a Bermuda Triangle of my personal bank account, my corporate credit card, and my company’s accounting department. The problem started when I jumped online to look at a credit card bill, while balancing my checkbook late one Sunday night. I impatiently clicked past the annoying pop-ups only to realize that … Ohhh sh##! … I just emptied all of my bank account to satisfy a very large corporate credit card bill.
How bad was this? Images went through my head like rolodex cards; my bills, my empty bank account, the layers of approval I’ll have to go through to sort this out, my stupid hand for clicking too quickly. Groan.
What is the un-do for this? The transfer was only 20 minutes old. Maybe it could be reversed by the customer service department of the credit card company. I dialed with hope.
My expectations took a hit as I heard the extra-worldly clicks of my call being bounced across satellites into a Contact Center overseas. Within 5 seconds, I estimated it landed in India, based on the accent of the customer service representative and his overly enthusiastic courteousness.
He asked ‘What happened?’
I asked myself ‘Should I lie?’ Righteous indignation is great fuel. But, it feels hollow when it is not true. So I explained my pop up mistake. He then shared a most polite and heartfelt sorrow.
I pressed him, ‘Can you solve this transfer problem, right now? It’s a big deal.’ He answered, ‘No problem Mr. Woodland. We will fix that lickety-split.’ Wow. 100 pounds slid off my shoulders.
‘Did I answer this call to your satisfaction?’ Oh yes! And it took less than 3 minutes. I hung up happy, my problem was solved.
Two days later and 10 o’clock at night, I saw that my mistaken transfer had not been corrected. What happened? Did he lie?
I called back, heard the same satellite sounds, and knew I was back overseas. I got a new employee, and we went through the same dance. He was also exceptionally polite, but that wouldn’t help if he could not resolve my problem.
Fortunately, he asked more intelligent questions about what happened, saw my call history, and then he said he was going to fix my problem and gave me a confirmation code to prove it.
‘Did I answer this call to your satisfaction?’ Oh yeah buddy you are a rock star!
I had been feeling that special squeeze of having zero cash in my bank account for several days. The 100 pound weight was now 200 pounds, and he lifted it off my shoulders. The next day, I got a follow-up email explaining they were resolving my problem. It all looked good.
Except, the transfer did not happen. Lies again! Or bad training?
I had now been living with no cash for 1 ½ weeks. So, I called customer service during regular US hours and insisted on speaking with someone who understood the rules. I got hold music. I got transferred. But I could wait.
To her credit, the employee apologized first about the prior two mistakes. She also had the right training. She explained that they could not reverse the transfer since it was over $1,000. Instead, I needed my accounting department’s approval, which meant more phone calls and an uncertain outcome. My company’s accounting department does not approve anything lightly.
‘Did I answer this call to your satisfaction?’
I paused. How do you answer that? Is this about problem resolution? Or was this about agent courtesy?
I had made 3 calls and I got 3 different answers across 10 days. And still no resolution. I now hated that green piece of plastic, their website and its pop up, and their loss of my time.
Yet, all 3 employees were exceptionally polite and wanted to deliver personalized, one-to-one customer service. It was their inconsistent global training that put me in 10 days of private banking hell.
‘Excuse me, did I answer this call to your satisfaction?’
I lied and said ‘Yes’.
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