Here’s more Photoshop experimentation. Remember those art projects where you drew intersecting lines and then colored the resulting spaces like a checkerboard? This started out as one of those.
I had a teacher in high school who was very unorthodox but he had many anecdotes that prepared me for adult life. Gerry Cadman, may he rest in peace, was definitely an influence on me and taught me that good customer service is far too rare.
One memorable Cadman schtick was his impersonation of a post office worker preparing a package for delivery. He would use his glasses as a prop, illustrating how the worker would struggle to read labels, wandering from one place to another in the depot, checking shelves and filling out forms. He exaggerated the effort to accomplish what should be a relatively simple task: getting box X from point A to point B.
He also had some infamous quotes: “That company services their customers like the bull services the cow.” And his vulgar variation on making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear: “You can’t shine sh*t.”
Today, all those pearls came back to me as I dealt with a wide variety of companies to get my address changed and generally deal with the details of moving.
None of the experiences were pleasant, although some were better than others.
Here’s my general conclusion: even if a customer service rep is trying to deliver excellent service, they are seriously hampered by corporate policies and bizarre automated systems. I could blame the IT departments, but since I come from an IT background, I know it isn’t their fault either. Really the problem is the “organic” nature of bureaucracies. Once a bureaucracy is in place, it is self-sustaining and puts down roots throughout the company, growing and festering of its own accord.
Rogers: The people moving into our house next month did what you would expect: they arranged for cable TV and Internet service to be activated after they move in. A typo resulted in the switchover being done a month early. It’s an easy mistake to make; let’s see how easy it is to unmake. They are told it would take at least 48 hours to reactivate their service. On my end, my account has been cancelled with no clear indication that it can be re-established at all (although thankfully the actual Internet connection itself continues to work for now). I seriously doubt that the silver lining will be a month of free service.
Bell: My satellite TV provider (although they don’t tell you this at the beginning) must have 30 days notice to deactivate the service. I said that we’d be moving during the intervening time, and could they send out the pre-paid shipping box to return my rental HDTV receiver right away. No problem, sir. I got the confirmation email: the box would be shipped two days AFTER the deactivation 30 days hence. When I called to correct that, I was told that they always send out the box after the deactivation. So if you’re moving, how do you get the box? Well apparently there is an exception process but it took quite a while to go through. I am crossing my fingers that this is resolved, since the system provides no way to send out another email confirmation.
The Personal: My insurance company may have been the easiest to deal with, but a mild oversight by the clerk (which he immediately noticed and called to correct) has resulted in four envelopes hitting the mail all at the same time. I naively asked if there was some way for them to cancel the extraneous mailings since the mistake was discovered right away. No way, I am told. I also asked how I would easily know which of the four was the correct one. Apparently it is up to me to read all four and find the one with the correct information. That’s exciting (like a treasure hunt)!
All in all I have spent hours on the phone today with Rogers, Bell, Enbridge, Powerstream, the Town of Aurora, the Bank of Montreal, and The Personal. Most of that time I was on hold, listening to some really exceptional light favorites from yesteryear. The rest of the time I was treated to a series of employees all trying their best to struggle through archaic and nonsensical systems and rules. Not one clerk was rude or abusive. But I expected them to turn on me at any moment, especially after I explained that this was hoop #964 that I had to jump through today. The last thing a beleaguered phone attendant needs is a disgruntled hoop-counter like me.
Meanwhile, the ghost of Gerry Cadman was over my shoulder, laughing his head off.