Saturday, April 25, 2009

URGENT: Cranky old man furious that zero and letter 'O' sometimes look similar

So I'm on-call for work this weekend, and I'm also working on a project for class that is due next week. This does not make for a very relaxing weekend, especially since on-calls for work are looking less and less like being on-call, and more and more like working more hours for less money. I just got a call from this dude, who was clearly a cranky old man, possibly on a respirator. (Or whatever that thing is where you can only say a few words before having to take a deep breath). He had just signed up for Product-X, and was furious because the login creds sent to him by "weren't working."

I took a look at his username and password, and noticed that the password, which was randomly generated by the site, had a numeral zero in it. This is bizarrely a huge source of confusion for a lot of our customers, who can't seem to grasp that sometimes, a zero looks like an 'O', and if the password doesn't work with one, maybe they should try the other. I realize it's slightly confusing; Product-X is a total piece of crap. If I had my way, I would eliminate Product-X, since it is essentially a black hole for money and the time of employees, such as myself, who would rather spend their efforts on something profitable. Unfortunately, it is a part of my job to deal with customer issues revolving around Product-X, of which there are many. To be fair, these issues are just as likely to stem from Product-X's shittiness as they are from user error.

HOWEVER--there is no reason to be a rude bastard to a customer service person before you have even heard what she has to say. This guy had obviously decided it was his right to be an asshole to whatever idiot picked up the phone, because there's no way the person on the other end of the line would be helpful. After I (very nicely) told him that I'd been able to log in with the credentials he had been sent, I pointed out that the password contained not an 'O,' but the numeral zero. He seemed to have trouble grasping this concept for a few seconds, but when he finally cottoned on, hooo boy, he was fucking furious.

My reaction when people get angry on the phone like that is to just stay really calm and pleasant. I think I might have said something like, "Well, I know that sometimes they can look similar, but if you just try logging in with a zero instead of an 'O,' and let me know if that works, that would be great..." It's true, I actually had to tell someone on the phone that zeroes and 'O's share similar aesthetic traits. Let's not go into how most of the time, a zero is more oblong, and an 'O' is more round. He was livid that the randomly generated password, assigned to him by a website, had tricked him, and he was going to make his overblown complaints heard in the most obnoxious way possible, to someone with no choice but to listen.

It's funny, I don't feel that I've ever had a truly horrendous encounter with someone in a customer service position, and most of the time I feel that they really are doing everything possible to help me out. I think this is because I've discovered the trick to getting good customer service is to treat the person trying to help you LIKE A FUCKING HUMAN BEING. Be friendly on the phone, be self-deprecating, provide as much information as possible, and you will be rewarded in kind. Be someone that the person will actually WANT to help, not just the asshat they're going to try and get off the phone as soon as possible, because practically no one does that. They call assuming that the customer service rep is going to try and screw them over, and by god they're not going to let that happen. Ask me how I know. CS reps get paid to help you solve the problems you are having with the service their company provided you, we're not here for you to vent all of your frustrations with modern technology and how some things can look the same as other things.


P.S. Also, if you can't tell the difference between 0 and O, and also can't grasp the concept of copying and pasting the password as it appears in the email into the password field, maybe it's time to give up on the whole internet thing


Anonymous said...

YOU'RE BACK!!!! I've missed you these past two months!!!!! And I will never be nasty to another CS person ever again.....

Clint said...

Maybe you should get Tech to remove both 'o' and '0' from the random password generator. I'm sure they'd love to spend even more time working on Product X!

Elisha said...

Sometimes the zero has a little diagonal line through it! This is another helpful hint I've picked up in my many journies on THE INTERNETS