I just finished a customer service interaction after several days of frustration, phone calls, incomplete information and finally a satisfying answer. At the end of this process, I realized that my interactions with the customer service representatives had some valuable lessons for church communicators as we share the gospel. We may not like to think of ourselves as customer service reps for Jesus, but consider. . . .
What happened and how it applies to us
The typical customer service phone call goes something like this:
- We call "customer service" because we don't understand something.
- The person we call totally understands the issue—they were trained in all aspects of it —they probably had to pass a test on their knowledge of the product before they were allowed to answer the phone.
- When we ask our question, it isn't new to them. It is issue #3 on the list, or however they categorize it, and they know the answer, even before we are finished asking.
- The customer service person rattles off the answer.
- We have no idea what they are talking about—we haven't been involved with the product for years and it makes no sense to us—that's why we are calling.
At this point, one of two things can happen:
- We ask for clarification and the customer service person is kind, listens, and takes the time to explain what we don't understand and makes sure our question is answered in a way that makes sense to us.
- The customer service person lets us know subtly or blatantly that if we don't understand, that's our problem. Sometimes, they act insulted that we don't understand.
For my recent customer service interaction, fortunately my call ended with option #1--the person realized I had no idea why they couldn't do what I needed their company to do. She courteously explained what was going on, the options, and finally, though I wasn't happy with the answer, why what I wanted was not possible.
In this instance, I was calling because my charge card processing company couldn't process PayPal for someone who wanted to buy a membership in my church communication training site. I had been trying to get an answer on this for two days. I talked to fairly nice people who told me it should be possible. They said someone else would check it out. They said they would work on it. They said they would get back to me. None of this happened.
The final person I talked to listened, explained, and though her answer was finally that what I wanted wouldn't work, I now knew what I had to do next.