I understand why much of the business world is automated, and that many of those processes were initially created to improve the customer experience; not having to wait for too long, getting your call to the right department rather than being transferred dozens of times, etc. Most companies have an elaborate process for monitoring these things – they do time studies on how long each call should take, how long each customer should wait in the drive-thru or stand in line. They pay their associates based on how quickly they can have a customers issue resolved, hang up and move on to the next customer, or get someone through the checkout line. There is software that tracks how efficiently these processes are “working” so that analysts and managers can sit together at their oblong tables (while their employees sit in beige cubicles with headsets on counting the minutes until they can got to lunch to work on their resume, or sneak off to the restroom to bash their head against the wall) deciding what’s working and what needs to be improved.
But what the heck, people? I’m thinking that the whole idea of improving or enhancing the customer experience has long been forgotten, and now it’s just a matter of , “let’s move! There is money to be made!”
Last week I tried calling one of our banks, and none of the options on their automated menu applied to what I was looking for. I went around and around that menu so many times I had it memorized. Then I started yelling at it, thinking that maybe people really ARE listening, and they’re laughing hysterically at their insane clientele. I could not find the number to a local branch anywhere. I won’t name names, but if I were to name names, it would rhyme with Funtrust Lank.
The grocery store has also become a place of high anxiety for me. Most of my checkout experiences go something like this: load groceries onto conveyor belt thingy, while simultaneously trying to enter my customer card number into little key pad thing that doesn’t accept said number until the third try, while also trying to keep Kate Spade handbag from falling onto conveyor belt thingy or the floor (because if Katie should get dirty, heaven forbid, she would never forgive me), and in addition, trying to find coupons that I cut out, or did I cut them out? I meant to, I’m sure they’re in here somewhere, dang it, maybe another pocket? Are they in the car? Did I leave them in the car again? Oh! I bet I forgot them on the counter at home! I’m such an idiot! That’s like eight bucks and I’m sure they’ll expire before I need them again, what a waste of my time, how do those fabulous women with the coupon binders keep up? Then, oh yes, here are the coupons, turns out I only had two. Oh, my customer number didn’t work again? Sure, I’ll enter it a fourth time. Cr*p! I forgot the romaine! Isn’t that what I came in here for in the first place? Well I know there’s no coupon for that. I still need it. They’re glad to send someone to produce to get it for me, and by glad I mean “who are you kidding lady, no one’s going to believe you’re a big salad eater, and please never come to my checkout line again”. And I always pay with cash, so it takes some fumbling for me to get that out, while snarky man in line behind me gives me the stink eye for taking too long, and I’m all “we live in the South dude, chill out”, but I’m still trying to hurry because he scares me a little, and oh, I need to find the exact change because my OCD brain loves exact change, hang on just a minute, here it is. By this time the bag boy is looking at me like I probably need to consider adult supervision when going out in public.
When I finally get my receipt and again fumble to get my wallet back into my purse, the whole process has been incredibly stressful. I sure hope that cashier gets an extra star on her name tag for excellent service though, she got me out in record time.