I am sure I am not the only one who has gone through the agony of talking to call center agents. Getting to reach an actual human, through an IV is difficult enough, the agony increases when the human agents also start behaving like robots. I know, I know, they have hearts and are real people and all but they sound like robots. They sound so artificial, so mechanical – like that doll which rattles off statements when you charge it.
Hardly able to bear the blow of my malfunctioning refrigerator, I was put through the ordeal of registering my complaint at company’s toll-free number. Perhaps, the reason why they make the call centre number toll-free is because their agents are not going to be satisfied before they ask you a 100 questions and say 50 pleasantries like have a nice day and sorry to keep you waiting. The IV machine does its bit by presenting 100 confusing choices to you that you almost give up trying to help yourself.
In this case, luckily, the IV machine just presented 2 options: Customer or Dealer? English or Hindi?
So, I chose Customer and English and the agent came online.
Agent: Suprabhat. Main aapki kya seva kar sakta hu
Ugh? Hadn’t I chosen English?
Me: (In Hinglish) Hi, This is NS here from Vadodara.
Agent: Customer or Dealer
Agent: Calling the first time or have called before
Me: (Taken aback) First time
And last, probably.
Agent: Which state
His ‘questions’ don’t need question marks in the end because they did not sound like questions. His voice sounded like a computer generated voice.
Agent: You are telling me the place. I want the city.
Me: (Teeth clenched) Yes, Baroda is the city. Ok, sorry. Vadodara.
Me: (wondering if I will ever get a chance to tell my problem) Errr wait. Ya. Here it is.
Thank you, Google.
Me: (Cursing myself for calling here. Cursing the refrigerator. Cursing everyone in general)
Agent: What product is bothering you
Me: (Feeling jubilant. At last!) Refrigerator
Agent: Model name and number?
Me: (Speechless) I don’t remember. But ya, it is tiny and grey in color.
Is this the only intelligent answer I could think of, you may wonder. But you know, when you are so down and are feeling least hopeful because the last ray of light also blows away, you can’t think.
Agent: What is the problem
Me: It doesn’t cool. I mean, it does, it cools and things become cool, but not cold. There is water in the freezer. I mean, ice doesn’t form
Great. This Robotic Question Bank has intimidated me to an extent that I am stammering now.
Agent: Ok. Your complaint has been registered. A mechanic will come within 48 hours; he will call before coming. Anything else.
Me: (Hell no!) No thanks
Agent: Call karne ke liye bahut bahut dhanyavad
Done. The problem communicated and resolved in 30 seconds. And for that, I had to go through full 10 minutes of giving half of my bio data to him while he filled some silly customer form.
Robotic Question Bank probably looked like this
Tele callers are no less botheration. Every time a telecaller calls, I think of some wisecrack to throw back at him or say something very smoothly and escape. But I end up listening to the entire memorised speech and feel lousy thereafter. After Robotic Question Bank, it was Persistent Telecaller’s turn to annoy me. Despite disconnecting his call 4 times, he kept calling. His persistence irritated me. I picked up the call only to hear a singing motorized nasal voice talking about some insurance plan in shuddh hindi. I disconnected your call 4 times, which means I can’t talk right now, ok?, I sputtered. He abruptly fell silent and slow and disconnected the call with a have a nice day.
And the guilt surfaced. I was rude to him! He was just doing his job (in a very annoying way, actually) and though he is trained and used to rude customers, he still has a heart that can get hurt.
I wish there was a better way of handling them without causing any humiliation to the caller and any exasperation to self.
Maybe I should learn some acting skills. Next time such a caller calls, I will cry out Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you!