Phone Monkey: An Introduction

PhoneMonkeyPNGFar too often, I hear a variation of the complaint, “Whatever happened to good customer service?” To answer that question, we often look at it from the customer’s perspective. Why does the customer service rep seem so rude? Don’t they want my money? Why do I often get less than stellar service? Isn’t the customer always right?

In my new ongoing segment, Phone Monkey, I want to answer these questions and more, but from the perspective of someone who works in the online customer service racket. I’ll be using my own experience and observations, as well as those of others in similar situations.

I’m never going to be specific about the company I work for, and I’m going to change any names to protect the innocent and guilty alike, but here are the basics. I work for an online company with which people place orders online for food, which then gets delivered to their homes or businesses. Our job is to make sure that the orders get where they’re going and to field questions, comments, and complaints from restaurants and customers alike. Often, we serve as mediators during disputes between hungry customers and tired restaurant workers who’ve been on their feet for eighteen hours. Sometimes we screw with drunks.

If you’ve seen the movie Clerks, you may expect that I secretly wanted to title this “Why Customers Suck” and then give a rundown of all the nuttiest, over-entitled, nit-picky jerk-bags I’ve had the misfortune of handling. There’s definitely part of me that aches to do that, but the truth of the job is much more mundane than a running verbal battle with psychopaths and fiends–though that is part of the job.

Sadly, not part of the job.

It’s easy to get negative in this job. Much like writing or performing, you can get a hundred people telling you that you’re doing well, but one overly negative, creepy, or opportunistic person can send you to the bottle. The goal I’m setting for myself here is to be as fair as I can and show the truth of the job as I see it. So, being fair to you, I’m going to tell you now that I don’t in any way intend to be objective, because I don’t particularly think that it’s possible to write objectively about a thing while still elbow-deep in it.

Think about that metaphor. And now think about pizza. Still hungry?

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One comment

  1. On the bright side, you’ve nicely extended yesterday’s jail/cell/cloister metaphor through the subliminal “monk” hiding within your series title. And, just as Irish monks allegedly “saved civilization,” one can only expect Californian phone monkeys in Malaysia to eventually achieve the critical mass of “if enough phone monkeys answer enough calls over enough time, ultimately they will write the entire works of William Shakesville.” Here’s hoping.

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