Friday, February 19, 2021

I am impressed by customer service professionals whose native language may not be English

In my experience, middle class Americans like to complain about things.

Actually, all Americans like to complain about things.

Well, really, all humans like to complain about things.

But for the moment, let's focus on good old, middle-of-the-socioeconomic-road Americans.

One of the things against which I often hear my fellow proletarians rail is when they call a company for customer service and have to deal with someone who is obviously not an American.

I don't mean to imply they're being racist. They just find it challenging to understand the person on the other end of the line, which I get.

In the past couple of days, I have made a total of seven combined customer service calls to our now-former cable provider but still Internet provider WOW, and our new streaming provider AT&T TV.

Every one of these calls resulted in me talking to a person who had what I would describe as either a Spanish or maybe Filipino accent.

I was blown away by two things: (a) I could understand all of them clearly. I've studied and practiced a lot of French in my life, but if I had to assist a French person over the phone in French, they simply wouldn't be able to understand me, no matter how hard I tried. (b) They could understand me.

That second point gets to something I've often mentioned over the years to those who, like me, have lived their whole lives in Northeast Ohio: We have an accent. Many vehemently deny it, but we do. Linguistics scholars have classified and described it in detail.

Maybe it's because they're exposed to so many American movies and so much American TV, but these customer service pros never seem to have trouble understanding me despite the mix of Midwestern flatness and curved Cleveland vowels with which I speak.

I know they have a lot of practice at it, but really, it's impressive.

I realize others have had far more negative experiences with customer service people they simply couldn't understand, but it seems both WOW and AT&T have done a great job hiring technicians who can be understood conversing in English.

(And by the way, make no mistake: These professionals often come from countries where prevailing wages are low. I'm not saying this is necessarily good or bad, but there's no doubt labor costs are lower when organizations go this route, which is why the person identifying themselves as "Jenny" on the other end of the line almost certainly wasn't born with that name.)

The best part: Our transition from a cable-dependent household to one that uses streaming TV (and that installs and outright owns its own equipment) has gone off with very few hitches. Thanks to these wonderful people who patiently answer my questions in their second language.

No comments:

Post a Comment