Call Center: The Wrong Way

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan

I selected on an Internet firm to file my trademark application for my new publication, TAS Trader. After a perfunctory phone call to remove concerns over their viability, I submitted my information online. This set in motion a series of email communiqués with their “trademark team” that became increasingly frustrating, lacking in substantive communication. Once it became apparent that we were at a communication impasse, I called again. To my dismay, “customers” are routed to a different group than “prospects.” My customer service contact was not nearly as impressive as my sales contact.

Regardless of what I asked, she responded with: “We cannot guarantee that your application will be accepted,” or “We do not provide legal advice, as was stated…” Neither response was relevant to what I was saying. Each time her tone was mechanical and even-paced, as though I was talking to a robot, possessing limited response options.

“You’re not listening to me,” I implored. “I can appreciate you have to read this disclaimer to me, but…”

This evoked an emotional retort, “I’m not reading a script,” she declared with irritation. “I’ve worked here for five years and know what I’m saying; I don’t need to read it.” Soon, she regained her composure and reverted to her tired verbiage, punctuated with, “Shall I place your order or not?” Eventually I acquiesced, albeit with grave reservation.

Although she answered quickly, after minimal IVR interdiction, her efforts were dispassionate and distant. Her responses were polished to the point of boredom, while her rebuttals were few, likely limited by a legal department intent on minimizing lawsuits. Although she salvaged my account, the interaction was not successful and my customer satisfaction was nonexistent. The rep may have won the proverbial battle, but she lost the war; my account was salvaged, but my future patronage was lost.

[See “Call Center: The Right Way” for a much better outcome.]

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at