Sonal Kalra gives you tips to calm down in her weekly column 'A Calmer You.'
They thanked me. Twice. They even wished me a nice day. What more do I want from customer care?
My sentiments have almost died of hurt after a lot of you felt that I was being sarcastic in last week’s column on hurt sentiments. Sarcasm and I are as unrelated as our selfless political leaders and corruption. I earnestly tried to respond to all your mails and explain that I was being dead serious but wasn’t able to because the GPRS on my cell phone, that’s needed to send emails, hasn’t been working inside the office building for days now. My phone that thinks of itself as very smart but is clearly not, only shows ‘GSM’ on the corner of the screen.
For a long time I thought it stands for ‘Give some money’, so I diligently kept depositing more money to keep it recharged. Its hunger didn’t end, and then a colleague pointed out that the GSM sign means the data services are not working due to a technical glitch, so I should call the ‘customer care’.
Now, you know, I don’t like to bother human beings over God-given calamities like earthquakes or volcanoes or technical glitches. But, then this was giving me an opportunity to say hi to my telecom service provider who I totally and unconditionally love. They may have their share of technical glitches here and there, but then who doesn’t have glitches in life. Yesterday, Chaddha ji mistakenly flirted with a woman who turned out to be his son’s class teacher. The after-effects of this glitch were audible even in my balcony till late last evening.
And all glitches withstanding, my telecom service provider cares like no other. At least they don’t have a dog chasing me in the name of connectivity or inappropriately address me as Honey Bunny when my nickname may have been the reverse. Anyway, full of optimism and overflowing with gratitude, I dialled the customer care last week, with trembling fingers. And the touching experience has stayed with me ever since.
It’s rarely that I’ve been treated with such care and affection. A very sweet lady, in a very sweet voice told me that MY call is important to them, and that I should hold the line. I think she was looking for someone equally important to talk to me and that surely needed time. You know, sometimes my staff does this embarrassing thing of calling people and telling them how important I am.
Making a mental note of scolding my team that they should do this less often, I tried to strike a conversation with the sweet lady. But for some strange reason, she kept repeating that my call is important to them. I’m not sure but I think I blushed after she said this around 11 times or so. She may have realised my discomfort because suddenly she asked me to press 1 for English and 2 for Hindi. I pressed 3 for Hinglish, but I think she didn’t appreciate the joke, so she lovingly snubbed me for making invalid choices in life.
Anyway, for the next 10 minutes, we played the game of pressing keys till I pressed all the keys on my phone. The task of finding someone important to talk to me was still on in the background, so guess what, she did the most amazing gesture for me. She actually played a 12 minute flute solo, just for me! Can you believe it? The melody still rings in my ears when I’m taking a bath. I applauded so hard that my phone almost fell down, and even gave a standing ovation. Wish she could see it.
Anyway, then they did something else that totally touched me. They said that my call, MY CALL, was being recorded for training purposes. Choking with emotions, I realised what a big responsibility that puts on me because my conduct during the course of that call would shape the career of thousands of customer care givers in the near future. I’d just started thanking them again when a gentleman suddenly came online and said something so fast that I could only get the last two words ‘help you’. Life is all about helping each other, isn’t it? I described the problem, and he then told me, at length, what I should do. I took notes. I thanked him again and he thanked me in return.
He kept asking me if he could do anything else for me. I think he was lonely and tired, but still so caring. I’m sure it’s not easy to care for so many people all through the day. I wanted to ask him about his life in general and share my problems at work and home, but then I wasn’t too sure how this exchange will sound, considering my call was chosen as a model case study for training. With heavy hearts, we ended the call.
I showed the notes to my colleague. She laughed and told me that the caring guy had, in 19 elaborate steps, basically told me to restart my phone. I did it, anyway. GSM continues to flash on my screen, as if trying to make fun of my naivety, but I am not perturbed. When the data services are destined to work, they will. At least till that happens, I can get some more chances at revelling under the care of customer care department. Who knows, next time they may just play piano for me.
Sonal Kalra thinks that genuine care is so rare these days that we better start valuing the importance of customer care. She hopes they also start valuing the importance of customers.
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The new volume of the compilation of these columns — More of A Calmer You—is available online and in bookstores now.