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   PLEASE, Chat People…you are killing me, and my time with kindness. How about a choice?

   Here is a transcript of my recent (and exasperating) Chat.

Message: Thank you for calling [Company XYZ] chat. An agent will be with you shortly.

(I proceed to fill in the information like my number, my account, and what I’m calling about today, etc. When I finish there is a long pause…)

Pete: Thank you so much for asking for assistance from [Company XYZ], Mr. Nelson.

Me: Fine, Pete. I just need a quick answer to a question. (Just FYI, Pete, it’s Mrs. Nelson.)

(Long pause…)

Pete: Oh, my sincere apologies, Mrs. Nelson. I’m so sorry if I’ve offended you. I really never intended to do that.

Me: No problem, Pete.

(I start typing my question and up pops a new message from Pete.)

Pete: Could you give me your phone number so I could call you back if we get disconnected?

Me: It’s the same one I gave you earlier, 123-456-7890

(Long pause…)

Pete: It would be my pleasure to try to answer the question for you.

(Now I pause…I’m half waiting for him/her to ask what the question is. But then I get tired of waiting, so I type my question.)

Me: I need to know [my question here].

Pete: Thank you.

Me: You are most welcome

(Very long pause, no action, no typing…)

Me: Pete, are you there? 

(More pause…)

Pete: Yes.

(Still more pause…)

Pete: How may I help you today?

Me: (Head on desk.)

Does any of this sound familiar from your forays into Computer Support Chat? It is frustrating, to say the least, especially when you are trying to resolve something in between appointments.

All this supercilious politeness is mechanical and unnecessary. It is neither effective nor efficient and contributes nothing positive. What it is doing is irritating people like me and driving us away!

Manners are nice, but not if they are forced and according to some book. I need people with efficient solutions. Besides if what I experienced is the norm, multiplied by a gazillion users of chat—the time and energy wasted by politeness is a lot. My take: it’s time to punt the pleasantries.

I have a solution to this challenge. Give me a choice. Before chat ever starts, offer me a box to check on the following continuum:

I prefer chat that is:

  • Very abrupt
  • Abrupt
  • Mildly Abrupt
  • Mildly Courteous
  • Very Courteous

Or in shorter form:

  • Very quick, to the point
  • Moderately quick, eventually to the point
  • Very courteous, never get to the point

I don’t care what you call the choices. Just, please, please, please, stop killing me with kindness. Stop with the thank you for every word, every procedure, and please don’t ask me how I am. I have friends for that. Just get to the point.

And most of all don’t even think of trying to sell me an upgrade or something else that costs money—and that I have to respond to, which takes up more time. I am here for service or to get a question answered. The channel is called Chat not Chit Chat for a reason. I did NOT choose chat to have more of my time taken up, or more of my energy depleted for putting up with this exhausting ridiculousness.

Now, if I’m going to be entirely truthful here, I have to admit that there may be days when I’d be offended by abruptness, troubled by the lack of courtesy, or even annoyed by a vague sense of being ill treated. Okay, but that’s my problem. On those days, I’ll pick Very Courteous, or at least Mildly Courteous.

With apologies to my mother who believed that politeness was better than godliness, please, customer service managers, throw out the current manuals for training customer service people 6000 miles away. Change their scripts. Help employees be more direct. Just cut to the chase and help them help me out. Let me choose whether I want a chat that is to the point, eventually to the point, or a tea party online.

That would make them more efficient, spend less time per call, and make the company more money! Look, it’s a win-win for everyone.

What has your experience been with Chat? Which type of Chat would you choose?

Judy Nelson (CoachJudyNelson.com) is a Certified Professional Coach, consultant, and motivational speaker. With more than 35 years executive experience, Nelson uses her exceptional credentials and experience as a nonprofit CEO, trained attorney and social worker to help strengthen the leadership styles and team performance of individuals and organizations. In addition, she co-authored the book, Leading the Way to Success and periodically hosts a web radio show of the same name. She lives with her husband in southern California.

You can email her at judy@coachjudynelson.com.