He is poor who does not feel content.

~ Japanese Proverb ~

Communication Bingo Anyone?

May 20th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 16 secs

Thankyou for holding. One of our communication facilitators will be with you shortly.

Are you ready to play communication bingo? Press 3 if you would like to continue. Now press 5. To continue, press 8. Thanks for holding. We really, really, really value your call. That’s why we’ve got you on hold. But please, don’t hang up. An operator will be with you shortly…

Yes, every time you need to get something sorted with a Telco, utility, or other big company, it’s eyes down for a full house, join the queue, and wait your turn. An operator will be with you shortly. Actually, that’s code for, when the two people in the call center in Mumbai have got through the three hundred other calls. Modern commercial dialogue is reducing to communication bingo, and unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you.

Thanks to the latest communication bingo innovations you now have the privilege of talking to a software app.  She (it’s usually a female voice) will insist on asking you what you want. For instance:

  • “For us to help you here at Fleapit Systems, we’ll need to know what you want.” 
  • “I want to check a bill.” 
  • “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say, ‘I want a pet in April’? 
  • No!” 
  • “Okay, so I can get to know you better, tell me about your favorite color” 
  • “Grrr! Just get me the operator”
  • “Sorry? I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say ‘I’ve enjoyed this service and want to hang up?’ In that case, goodbye…[Click]”

Doesn’t that rot your socks? Don’t you bristle with the indignity of being treated so badly, whilst having your time so flagrantly wasted? Being forced to hear yet more inane advertising, are you that surprised when the line drops out? That’s communication bingo for you. When you choose your numbers, who knows what will happen?

Personally, I’m certain you deserve a lot better. Nor do I swallow the service provider’s line that having four call staff instead of two is going to result in massive price rises. Somewhere in the rush to streamline (read: cheapen) services, a call center line has well and truly been crossed. So let’s unravel the communication bingo lingo:

  • We value your call” = Wait
  • “Thanks for holding” = Wait
  • Your call is important to us” = Wait
  • Please, don’t hang up” = Wait
  • “Are you excited about our great new deals?” = Are you really that foolish?
  • We’re proud to provide you with the best possible service” = Our bosses are clueless about customer service
  • “Did you know, we’ve won the Cockamamie Customer Service Award three years running?” = See how good we are? You’re lucky we even keep you on hold.

So what’s the answer? Well, if you’re like me, you let the call center person know you appreciate they’re human and that, like them, you’re a person too. We can refuse to be dehumanized and insist instead on bringing graciousness to the situation. If we don’t, then not only do we get the rough end of the communication bingo stick, we let it beat us. True, call queues may be a small matter in the grand scheme of life. But we can at least bring some dignity to our discussions, whichever way we communicate.


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