Most of us have suffered through the painful process of calling an 800 number or going online for a “Chat Support” session to get a question answered or attempt to resolve an issue. I recently complained in an email to a major vendor that their website was defective at best. Their response was a computer-generated response directing me to their Chat Support.

My experience is that the Chat Session is a computer program with answers generated by key words in the question. I have wasted what felt like hours (probably less than thirty minutes each event) going in circles with the machine that kept giving me canned answers that did not solve my problem while raising my blood pressure. I do not believe I have ever gotten a satisfactory answer since it eventually will advise me to contact Tech/Customer Support. This is when the pain really begins.

When I dial the 800 number, I have to give my 16 digit number, date of birth (in their required format), answer a myriad of questions requiring yes/no (1 or 2), my mother’s maiden name (type first four letters of the phone key pad), and the beat goes on. If I make any error, I have to start all over again assuming that I do not somehow mysteriously get cut off and have a dial tone due to “system malfunction.” While on hold, the phone keeps telling me to go to their website and use their Chat Session. Hmmmmm. Do you think I will ever buy from these clowns again?

Of course, the application is straightforward. Do you have a HUMAN (preferably knowledgeable and personable) answering your phone? Do you respond in a timely manner to all inquiries, complaints, requests, etc? Are your staff trained to be problem solvers when appropriate; rather than avoiding responsibility and passing the buck? Do you follow through to satisfactory resolution? Do you listen to what the customer (or potential customer) is saying since oftentimes they will not use the correct terms? An example is: “I want this floor shiny like it used to be.” Interpreted: “Put more wax down over a dirty floor.” Actual desire: “Clean the floor and make it look good.”

Although technology is wonderful, there is still a need for the human element. After being burned by 800 Help Lines and Chat Support, many of us do not have the patience to be put on hold. Are you and your staff taking responsibility for communicating with your customers and prospects? Don’t lose valuable business while trying to save money using a poorly designed system.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or