“I appreciate your patience.” “Thank you for your patience.” How many times do we hear this when dealing with customer service? When dealing with problems with vendors, contractors, retailers, etc.? These are obviously trained phrases. That is, the customer service reps are trained to say these words. But, in my opinion, they are ill considered phrases that only add to customers’ frustrations, not reduce them. I consider myself to be fairly patient and tolerant. I know those anonymous people on the other end of toll free numbers have a difficult job and that they help, or try to help, callers every minute of their working day. I know they deal with rude callers and multiple challenges, often, in noisy call centers. As I write this I’ve been on a call, mostly on hold, for over an hour and a half trying to resolve a flaw in a bank website and app. I’ve spoken briefly with 2 reps, but mostly have listed to some tedious hold music. In my opinion, assuming I have patience, or that I’m being patient, is a bad assumption after such long hold times. (And, by long, I mean more than single digits.) I find it patronizing when I hear “Thank you for your patience…” Much better to say “Please be patient with me, I am trying to help you…” I guess you can say, at this point, another 10 minutes into the tech support call with no resolution, my patience has left the station. This rep, a young woman based on her voice, is typing and asking questions, but not getting anywhere. She has done better than some in saying “thank you” and informing me of what she is doing; that helps. But, for the trainers, considering the perspective of the callers, the customers, is important. Training call center/tech support staff should include forcing them to make calls to such places to get a feel for what the customer encounters. And, never, should the training teach the reps to talk down, in a patronizing way, with phrases such as “Thank you for your patience.” I just finished this call, the 2nd one for this issue. Over 2 hours total time. Not resolved. Patience gone.
Oh, the silly things people say! Here are some of my favorites, starting with David’s, “Thank you for your patience.” When someone tells me “Thank you for your patience,” I ask, “Why do you assume I have patience?”, particularly if I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity for the person to get something done. A frequent, and completely stupid (in my opinion) question I am asked by people in a retail environment is, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”, to which I reply, “Absolutely not. I am constantly looking for world peace, but I don’t think I will ever find it in this store.” My primary care physician usually has medical students shadowing him and they often ask ridiculous questions, including one of the most inane questions that anyone asks me, “Is anything bothering you today?”. My answer is always the same, “Yes, there are numerous things bothering me today, however, none of them are medical in nature.” And, one of the all time bothersome comments I hear is “With all due respect…” This silly preface, in my experience, always precedes an insult. I find it both condescending and unprofessional and I never miss the opportunity to inform the rude customer (dis)service person who uses it to chastise me for attempting to get good customer service, instead of poor service, for using this inanity. On the other hand, one of Magnus’ long time clients has a wonderful phrase that he includes as the last sentence in letters to opposing counsel when he perceives he is being “given the old run around.” This powerful sentence is, “Govern yourself accordingly.” The meaning is quite obvious to the recipient, unlike the all too common “Thank you for your patience, understanding, or whatever I don’t think you actually have.” I will end my part of this post by quoting a Jimmy Buffett lyric from the song, “Cliches,” “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” This is good advice for all of us!