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How and When it all started

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by kryptonyt, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. kryptonyt

    kryptonyt Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    There may not be an exact answer to this question. It is possible that so much time has gone by that we have all become so accustomed to the way things are that the point of my inquiry will not be understood.

    I think that in our life-time significant changes happen that if noticed as what they are in that moment that the future can be controlled differently instead of accepted for what it becomes.

    It occurs to me that there are so many subjects and sub-subjects that picking just one as an example might give the impression that the one I mention is the sum-total of my point. Far from it.

    When I think about a few of the subjects I immediately see that these subjects are already being discussed but the way that they are discussed locks in the way that they are analyzed.

    Maybe if I give an example of something that many people can relate to and suggest that you consider this example only as an example of how we become limited in the way we look at things and analyze things then maybe it will be possible to open up the subject in a much broader sense.

    My example is Gravity. Without getting too heavy into theory and all of the things we know and " take for granted " concerning gravity, I want to ask one of those simple questions that kids might ask: " Who invented gravity " that kind of question automatically gets translated to who discovered gravity which generally leads to the answer Sir Isaac Newton. Because that answer is so universally accepted and it works for certain purposes, no one looks to correct or in greater detail explain the answer "Sir Isaac Newton" nor do they attempt to educate those who asked beyond the most basic of answers.

    It occurs to me that in modern times something happens that is not given enough attention to see and or to consider the possibility that a major event happened that changed in a big way other things that are important if not critical in the lives of the masses. So times moves on and during that time the specifics of " what happened " is lost in a number of ways so if and when it might be rediscovered few people are concerned enough to slow down the gravity of the event. ( yes, I specifically used the word "gravity" here tapping into the fact that I used it as a metaphor in the last paragraph.) In fact "gravity" is a great way of suggesting that this invisible force that has pretty much been around long before Sir Isaac Newton was a glimmer in his parents eye.

    Just because we do not see something does not mean that that thing is not present and doesn't effect many things.

    It might be risky to suggest this next part. I wondered if I could recall when I noticed a major change in the way that this country changed the way that customer service was made available to customers who had problems with a product. I wondered this because what we once knew as customer service is dead as it once existed. That said so many of the customers that exist today did not live during the time that things were different so they do not know and more importantly can not imagine anything other than they way things are now.

    This way of accepting what has now spread to virtually all area's of our lives may best be illustrated by the recorded messages that we hear in virtually all of the recorded messages that we are forced to listen to when we call customer service: " Please listen to everything since our choices have changed " THERE IT IS! you proof and a clue that you are being asked to accept what we are force feeding you.

    Most people automatically accept this because they may wonder : what other choices do I have? And that may indeed be part of the problem. Those who decide to force feed you this line know before hand that most people can not think about ways to protest this BS. They know that people will not unite and act as a single force against this crap that has little or nothing to do with the reality that we are seeking.

    Along the way as the rules were changing the powers that be kept putting more buttons between you and a live person. After years of this, even if you do get to a live person they too have been so conditioned by this philosophy and methodology that they do not know how to get you to " the right person "
    There is no one on their list of contacts called " the right person " and since they have been deprogrammed to think on their own they can't figure out what to do. At the end of the day you have been transferred, put on hold and more than likely disconnected more times than once was ever thought possible. Someone knows that after being subjected to this methodology that over time the customer will give up. They will surrender to they way things have become in almost every area of our life.

    No one knows what to do about this form of abuse because no one knows where to go to voice their objections, concerns, disappointments, disapproval's, and outrage. "Outrage"? maybe it has not come to that here in this country except when we witness the carnage on TV when someone flips out and starts doing the unthinkable. Then those people are automatically considered mentally ill, sick, sociopaths, and maybe they are. But is it not fair to ask how do people who are sometimes said to be "well liked" or popular, or any other number of snap shot pictures of those who " go off " and then usually figure out that they have done the unthinkable and take their own life.

    Maybe this is a stretch thinking that it all goes back to change happening without people having a say in how things change.

    I am not saying that all roads lead to a horror show at the mall. But I am wondering if anyone is old enough to remember that the worst thing about customer service used to be a long wait time before someone answered and that person usually was determined to solve your problem.

    I'll give a perfect example at a later time.
     



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  2. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Extreme Android User

    Start a complaint page on Twitter or Facebook.

    Customer service doesn't seem to realize that not everyone has either a landline or unlimited cell minutes to listen to the BS.

    The other possibility is spam calls. Our business needed to pay by check, not credit card. One day I got 15-20 calls in a row from Visa about signing up. I think my boss finally told one solicitor where to go and what to do when she got there. If you just use the answering service for non-office hour calls, you get all these idiots, and there is no DNC list for business. First thing in the morning and after lunch were prime time for pests. Caller ID doesn't always work if a business has quite a few numbers.

    TMO has the menu, but you can interrupt with what you want. Usually just saying representative gets you a live person or an arranged call back if there is a wait. They do call back.
     
  3. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    I'm sorry, but I do not agree with much of what you are saying. You make several assumptions that simply are not quantifiable or able to be proven. Just two off the top of my head ... the fact that phone menu choice have changed is not an indicator that options for customer service have been taken away or consumer choices are in some way diminished (although in some cases it may be true). All it means is the menu has changed.

    Here the assumption is that this is a "form of abuse". While we have all had our share of frustrating customer service exchanges, I would hardly categorize the automation of telecommunications and support as "abuse". The more likely scenario is that it is a poorly implemented system rather than an abusive one.

    It is not in any corporation's best interest to abuse its customer base, however it is in their best interest to provide customer service and technical support in the most economical way possible as this directly affects the bottom line. Poorly implemented systems also will have negative economic consequences, but it is usually the companies with a short sighted marketing department, who can't grasp this that are responsible in the first place.

    Consumers do not surrender, the act with their buying choices.
     
  4. kryptonyt

    kryptonyt Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I want to thank the two forum members who took the time to read my post and to comment on it.

    To: lunatic59 and zuben el genub

    zuben suggested: "TMO has the menu, but you can interrupt with what you want. Usually just saying representative gets you a live person or an arranged call back if there is a wait. They do call back."

    I have used this call back feature and I admit that it is one of my favorite changes that actually makes calling CS a better experience. Once they call back then some of what I'm complaining about kicks in, but not needing to wait on hold is truly an innovative way of treating a customer fairly and with respect.

    That said the main point of my original post may have been lost in the stories, examples, and metaphors because I struggled to simply say what bugs me mostly because I think the truth comes disguised as something WE REALLY WANT or NEED! That makes it difficult to be clear about the problem.

    I think there was a corporate decision made back in the 90's that changed the course of customer service. As time passes by without discussing the issue it gets more difficult to pin point the details that contributed to the change(s) that we need to contend with now. This "now" has complicated life and consumes us; what compared to the ways things were for years and worked very well for years, now no longer works smoothly and efficiently.
    Calling CS sucks so much time out of a persons day and life because one call almost never results in resolution. One call often demands other follow up calls to the same or different numbers which I find myself keeping a pad with notes, numbers and names, times, days and length of calls. I see others dealing with the same issues. That said it is difficult for me to understand how others can not make the connection between the ways policy changes have directly and indirectly effected our everyday life in America.

    [ although this isn't exactly about this subject a show popped up on TV and a few excerpts from a new books were on the screen. This book is more about politics but also about the way America has changed and why. It's called:
    The Unraveling
    How to Respond to a Disordered World
 ] I think this fits into what I am attempting to say here.

    Those corporate leaders who notice what they notice also realize that they need to have a team of people who look for and find certain things that have been solid and unchanged for years ( Customer Service for instance ) and they figure out ways to make changes that at the end of the day saves the company money by changing the recipe that most companies have used since telephones were used instead of letter writing. They make these little changes and watch how customers react. If there isn't too much kick back they try a few more changes. There is a form of deconstruction that takes place and what is put in it's place is something that has now reverted back to writing letters because the phone calls no longer resolve our problems quickly they may in fact be changing the mentality of the buying public to accept the resolution of " just buy a new one ".

    Someone will want an example: How long does a $700.00 phone last? Change the way that people think about their phones and customer service is not worth fussing with. Structure a service plan that get's you into a new phone in approximately that amount of time.

    Back in the 90's ALL computer companies offered " life time call in support ". I see this point in time as the turning point. Most of those companies that offered the life time support are now bankrupt. The ones that survived still need to honor that warranty but isn't it interesting that besides everything in the computer being old and outdated MS announced that they no longer support the OS. Without updates for Windows 98 it's a wiggle out of the warranty.

    Computer warranties now are shrinking in more ways than just length of time.
    "Conditions" dictate the warranty. The mentality of computer ownership has changed so radically that few people even think about a warranty as a reason to buy a computer. Like cell phone no one expects to have them that long.
    "Life Span" is a narrative that has changed so radically that most people do not even know that they have been guided down the cattle chute. HB's
    ( Human Beings ) are more like lab rats than free will mammals at the top of the food chain.

    Hype and Market, get free news coverage showing all of the rats in the chute waiting in line for days just to be first on the block with the latest greatest iphone and who needs customer service? In 14 months or so you can take your camera back to the same spot and see the same people waiting.


    During the lifetime warranty period with all new computers MS made the biggest change to customer service. They did not want to waste time fielding calls about their products. IF!!! You could find a customer service phone number and IF!! you got through. The representative would ask you to provide them with a credit card number which will be charged $39.00 just to talk to them. This $39.00 was for the one call and did not guarantee satisfaction or resolution.

    Other companies took notice and soon other companies started changing the ways that they fielded calls. Maybe THIS is when " Our Menu's have changed" became common verbiage and since they change a word here or there frequently the message is always relative.
     
    lunatic59 likes this.
  5. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Extreme Android User

    I also said that spam calls can waste an employee's time. It's harder for a spammer to get through the menu. Like a captcha for the phone.

    I've worked with customers and had to answer the phone. When I started, the switchboard was a pbx, and the operator could filter out the calls. You got calls from legitimate customers with payment issues if you were in payable, and the rest went to the other departments like sales.

    Automation is not as good, but with the volume of stuff today, you'd need a bigger bank of operators than possible.

    I can see the point of the menus. They are not infallible. You can still get the scammer who waits.

    Businesses should make them more user friendly. TMO also states how long the wait will be and gives you the choice. That would work very well for some companies.
    For others, like banking, it might not. They just sound rude. Even generating an email to a customer would help. It's when you feel you are being ignored that things get interesting.

    The one that really sets me off is putting help forums and answers on Twitter and Facebook. TMO does that, too.
     
    lunatic59 likes this.
  6. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    There is a term in law (although for the life of me, I can't recall the Latin phrase) which states that when an action or event effects us personally, our perception of justice and fairness is different than if we are considering the same set of circumstances for strangers, or in the abstract. What is "right" for us, may not be right universally. Nor may our best solution be practical or responsible for the other parties involved. I like to refer to this as "perfect world syndrome."

    Customer service surely falls within this classification.

    I don't think we can pinpoint a single decision or corporation for the changing customer service paradigm. I also don't think we can assume it's a universally adopted practice. I work for a logistics company in the most densely populated (and competitive) area of the U.S. encompassing a service area from central NY through Virginia. We have committed to live customer service reps answering every call. Sure it costs more than having fewer reps and more automation, but this is something we chose to do and it is working for us very well.
    As I stated, we've all had this experience in one form or another. I had a very aggravating exchange with both Westinghouse (about a TV) and Toshiba (a laptop) that now keep me from considering them for future purchases. If you are interested, feel free to read the details in my blog. One bourbon, one scotch and one tirade. Just so you know that a.) this was from 2007, and b.) i spoke with live people much of the time.

    The ideal decision (*see "perfect world syndrome") would be one that both saved the company money and did not degrade the customer experience. But, you can't please all of the people all of the time, as the saying goes, so these decisions get based on "most of the people most of the time" analytics.

    I don't think you can lay this at the feet of the corporate culture. As products become commoditized and disposable income increases, more and more products become disposable. Shoes are a perfect example. Aside from styling and more synthetic materials, shoe construction has changed little in the past century. A good pair of shoes used to be a major expense and they could be resoled and repaired and last for a very long time. Now we simply throw them away and buy a new pair without a second thought. Technology devices such as phones are approaching that level of ubiquitous disposability. And, considering that they advance very quickly, most expect to exchange devices frequently.

    And, as you pointed out they either don't offer it now or went out of business. It is never a good business decision to maintain a policy that ends your business. ;)

    Computer warranties usually reflect what consumer protection laws require with little else.
    What MS did was bundle the support and the OS together to the manufacturer. If you bought a Dell or an Asus computer and you wanted support for Windows, you had to get it from them. Most of the time the contact information for that support was embedded in the "about this computer" screen. If you wanted support directly from Microsoft, you needed to pay for it. However, if you bought a retail copy of Windows, you did have free (as in "included in the cost") support directly from MS and the number was readily available both embedded in the system screens and on the packaging. I would say 95% of consumers buy their OS bundled. If the procedures for support are vague or difficult, then that should be a criticism of the manufacturer, not MS.

    That's most likely a legal thing. Even the smallest of menu changes could cause problems if they published different contact information on their website or in print, so it becomes a necessary evil. I don't think it's a Machiavellian attempt to reduce services to customers.
     
  7. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    One other thing I'd like to address, is the support itself. A large majority of support cases deal with the same, or similar issues. We see that here, especially with people unfamiliar with the technology. With every new release there is a flurry of the same question which, no matter how rudimentary, takes time and effort to answer. Since most companies publish some sort of FAQ list for these repetitive issues, it makes economic sense to drive customers there first, freeing live service reps to deal with the more complex issues.

    In theory it is a good model, but in practice many do this by making actual customer service difficult.

    Of course, if customer service were perfect, there would be no need for user support forums like this one. Now consider this ... here at Android Forums it was the owner's vision to be a source of support for both new users and the experienced developer in a polite and civil manner. While other forums exist, if you ask a repetitive question there, you will be chastised for not reading the FAQ's first. Here we politely redirect the member to the correct information. We are the largest and oldest Android user support forum, so you'd think others would follow our lead or copy our paradigm, but most would rather maintain that haughty air of internet rudeness that seems to be all too prevalent these days.
     
  8. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert

    Well, you had me at gravity and then you kinda lost me. :thinking:

    I will address the phone menus you get when you call a company. There are a number of reasons why companies put phone menus for customers. I'll touch on the following: cost, training and reporting.

    Cost is a big factor in any company. They do things to cut costs. The phone menus ideally are supposed to route the caller to the correct agent, so when the caller an agent connect, they can more quickly begin that transaction. This ideally saves the agent time. If you did not have a menu, an agent will have to ask the caller the purpose of the call and then possibly have to manually route the call to someone else to handle that call. This all takes time. When you can reduce the time an agent is on a call, you can potentially reduce the amount of agents needed to take that volume of calls and save the company money.

    Also, sometimes callers are calling for information only like the hours that a store is open. Common information like this can be handled entirely within the phone menu without the need to speak to an agent. Again, this will reduce the amount of agents needed if a significant number of calls can be serviced without the need to speak to an agent. Reducing the amount of agents needed will save money.

    Companys have to train the phone agents. The veteran agents will likely have the skills to take a wide variety of calls. Some call centres handle wide variety of calls. If you were to train an agent in such a call centre, there will be a long training period lasting perhaps up to several weeks depending on the call centre.

    A better way to train agents is to train them on perhaps one type of transaction, then let them start working and take that type of call, then later train them on another call type, etc. Over time, the agent will eventually learn all of the call types. The phone menus allow you to segment the call types so that agents who are not fully trained on all call types yet will only be routed those call types that they are trained for. This will reduce the training period before an agent starts working. It will also make the training easier to manage for the agent as they will need to learn a smaller amount at any given time, but will eventually be completely trained over a longer period of time.

    A third reason for the phone menus is to offer some reporting information on callers. Call centres will use this information to better schedule agents and shifts. The business will also use this information to guage customer behaviour on new products and services.

    I do know that people complain about the fact that they have to push buttons before speaking to a live person. I think that people are more accepting of these phone menus now than when they first started to become wide spread. I don't recall the last time I called a large company that employs a call centre and was not greeted with a phone menu.

    Phone menus are like any other type of user interface. It can be designed well or designed poorly. Back in the 90's, I have experienced more poorly designed phone menus than now. I have called places where the phone menu did not offer me a choice that was clearly what I wanted to call for. Also, there were times where there were so many choices, I forgot what option 1 was by the time I started listenling to option 5. Phone menus tend to be better designed these days. I have been better able to select the correct choice now than in the past.
     
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