Annie Lane: Customer service in 2022: pros and cons

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Dear Readers: You overwhelmed me with interesting replies to “Too Impersonal,” the letter saying that there is a lack of customer service today. Here is a sampling:

Dear Annie: I’m younger and, on the flip side, most people of my generation hate talking on the phone and also find the internet easier and better for many reasons. First, it’s easier to visualize your seat on a plane or date on a calendar or whatever else when picking online. Second, all answers to your questions are typed out and on record, so you won’t accidentally be screwed by a person giving you a wrong answer. You also can go back and reference them when needed. I see all of these things as customer service, just a different form. I honestly get very frustrated when I email a question and get called back, because then I have no record of what I was told, and if it was wrong, I’m stuck with no recourse or defense.

— Millennial

Dear Annie: I am approaching my 40s and have worked in customer service my whole life. What many call “efficiency” is essentially taking resources away from the workers at the bottom — call centers, grocery stores, doctor’s offices — in the name of cost effectiveness. Why pay workers in America an American living wage when you can pay workers in India or Mexico pennies on the dollar in wages? Our current work and business culture puts profits over people at every turn, and this includes the customers and the workers.

— Bigger Issue

Dear Annie: I worked for 25 years in the corporate world in customer service at an insurance company. The company motto was, “establish lifetime relationships with our members.” But once I got them on a plan, I was never able to talk to them. They had to be transferred, and they could never talk to the same person. I decided to become an independent agent specializing in Medicare. Now I’m living the dream, meeting face-to-face with seniors in their home. I meet their dogs and their grandchildren, and sadly I attend their funerals. They get “snail mail,” handwritten cards in the mail. I feel like I have about 400 grandparents.

— Living the Dream

Dear Annie: I, too, remember having a personal physician who took such great care of me and spent time making sure to take care of my health. I was devastated when she retired and I was forced to use a hospital with a rotating staff of whoever is available and seven-minute bi-annual appointments. I haven’t seen an actual doctor in years. I once noticed that my chart had been checked by a doctor, but I never spoke to him. My suggestion to “Too Impersonal” would be to try small or new businesses.

— Keep Trying

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.