Wed - Nov 28, 2007 : 03:33 pm
The Value of Words
Recently, I have had the opportunity to have my mind opened to various opportunities having to do with mortgages and investment properties, and whatnot, and in the midst of all this, we have had to contact the lending company on our primary mortgage.
Yesterday, I was on hold for 1.5 hours with Citibank's collections department, after being transferred between hateful machine auto-responder doo-dads, menus, and humans.
During this time, I had the wondrous opportunity to hear (above the screaming of my wonderful children) the following phrases approximately 100 times each.
"Thank you for your patience. We value your business."
"We apologize for the delay. All of our customer service representatives are busy."
Due to the extra hour I had of subliminal processing of these messages, the following thoughts came to my mind:
"What in the world does 'we apologize' mean coming from a computer?" Does that make sense to you? Or none at all?
How in the world can a series of computers feel anything at all, much less warrant the giving of an apology? To add humiliation to hurt, 99.9% of the time the actual human being answers the phone, there isn't the slightest hint of any remorse whatsoever for having me wait so long. Doesn't this make the words "we apologize for your inconvenience" at the least, extremely sarcastic?
The image of a hardened sadistic murderer standing over the body of his last victim while stating "Oh... I apologize for this inconvenience", comes to mind. Not that the situation is in any way similar, but the words end up meaning just about as much.
Not only does it not mean anything, but often times it goes the other way and belittles the offended through sarcasm.
So... What causes 99% of all businesses who employ automated phone answering machines to record someone saying "We're so sorry... We apologize... Please continue holding.... We value your business..." when in fact having those words in an automated system end up meaning more to the effect of:
"Thank you for calling. It seems that you have successfully made it past the maze of meaningless key-prompts, thus we have put you on hold. We have done so in the hope that you give up and sever the connection, so we don't have to deal with you at all. We couldn't care less about how you feel right now and are only concerned about conducting the business you need in the least amount of time possible, while you wait the longest time possible. You are on hold now as a testament to the fact that we are in control, and you are not. We don't care about you. Stay on hold until we deem it convenient for us to address your concerns... Unless, of course, you want to hang up."
Yes... I know it's a bit extreme, but it all ends up about the same: meaningless.