Thursday, June 14, 2012

Customer Service

The other day, I called the customer service line at the Chicago Transit Authority. I needed to change my electronic fare card to a monthly pass and I couldn't figure out how to do it online. Expecting to wait a long time “for the next available representative,” I was really surprised when a friendly voice answered right away. 

While I was explaining my needs, I heard an alarm in the background go off. The friendly representative quickly said they were having a fire drill and she had to hang up. That’s perfectly understandable. I’m a fire marshal-person at work and we’re under a lot of pressure to perform well during fire drills. 

About thirty minutes later, my phone rang at work and it was the CTA representative, apologizing for the inconvenience. I couldn’t believe it. She had looked up my account, found my work number and called me back!

I profoundly expressed my gratitude (and amazement) to her for going the extra mile like that. She cheerfully thanked me and upgraded my CTA card. 


Now that I used my CTA card twice a day, I wanted to drill a hole in it so that I could attach it to my key ring rather than digging it out of my wallet every time. I thought I should check with the CTA to see if this was advisable. 

Again, someone answered right away. The moment I began explaining that I wanted to poke a hole in my card, the guy interrupted, laughed and said, “No! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”

Obviously, he knew his stuff and got the point across in a very friendly manner. 

Isn’t it sad that we’re amazed when we receive good customer service these days? Yes, I like the efficiency of doing a lot of customer servicey tasks online myself. But when we do have to talk to an actual person, it’s become such a challenge to do so. 

Try clicking on the “contact us” on any website. There’s seldom a number to call. One has to negotiate through a labyrinth of website layers to find an actual telephone number these days. 

Then, when we do call, there’s the ubiquitous recording: “Your call is very important to us. . .”

Um, no. It isn’t. 

If my call was actually very important to them, they’d pick up the damn phone. That’s what one does with important telephone calls. 

I know one thing. If I ever get laid off from my job, I’d like to apply for one at the Chicago Transit Authority.


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