Thanks For Calling. How May We Assist You?

USAA, the big insurance company for current and former members of the armed services, is a good example of the first group. The robosystem asks only that you pick by number, the subject about which you are calling (e.g, “1″ for auto insurance; “2″ for home insurance). A service representative comes on the line quickly, answers questions cheerfully, and is respectful of the caller (and does not use the faux chumminess of addressing the caller by his/her first name).

Hertz is an example of the streamlined approach. It wasn’t always this easy, but today you can dial their “800″ number, book a rental car in a distant city, get the cost and your confirmation number all without human intervention and all within about three minutes.

The American Spectator looks at which companies are doing it right when it comes to telephone customer service, but as some of us know from experience, sometimes, it’s just easier to tweet at a company’s twitter handle and wait for someone to get back to you.

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13 Comments / Post A Comment

OllyOlly (#669)

I can actually say I got a good experience calling AmEx yesterday, After the first associate transferred me to the fraud dept, they actually stayed on the line and came back after a few minutes to apologize for the wait. A little courtesy goes a long way…

I can also say without a doubt that Comcast is the worst company I have ever had to call.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@OllyOlly I don’t think anyone can disagree with you on the Comcast bit. The woooorst. The number of times where I have called and had somebody tell me the same thing I’ve already heard 7x. Yes, I did that, yes, I restarted it, yes, I tried that already. I am not an idiot – I know the basics of electronics and the internet.

One problem with the streamlined service is that if you have a situation that doesn’t fit in any of their options, you’re screwed. I had an appliance break and scheduled a Sears technician to come out and fix it using their customer service line. It was really, really easy to do this! It was also impossible to get anybody on the phone when the technician stood me up.

I am a USAA evangelist. I’ve had them ever since my first savings account at age 12 and except for the fact that I couldn’t get my student loans through them because I wasn’t personally a veteran, they are the best, best thing ever. If you are remotely related to a veteran or active duty servicemember, look into them!

ghechr (#596)

@polka dots vs stripes We (i.e. my husband and I) have USAA for our home and car insurance because my father-in-law is a veteran. They are THE BEST. The customer service is great.

probs (#296)

@polka dots vs stripes USAA is the best! Great customer service and prices. Plus, contrary to what it says in the article above, it’s for uniformed service members, not just armed, so NOAA and Public Health Service peopleand their relatives can get it (at least if they’re uniformed officers or what have you).

smack (#307)

@polka dots vs stripes So the best, ever ever. When I switched to them for banking/insurance (3rd generation USAA member, thanks grandpa!) it was like the sun shone from a dark cloudy sky.

THE. BEST. Also they’re great with traveling b/c you know, they have soldiers so you never are going to be in like, Tokyo and your card frozen as long as you call them beforehand.

@probs Oh yeah! I had a roommate once who’s father “worked for the government” and he got it too.

@smack Yes!! They ALMOST froze my card once but called me first, because I decided not to tell them I had moved across the country, so the $1,000 at Bed Bath and Beyond was actually suspicious.

Oh also, they don’t do any extra fees at international ATMs. There might be a currency conversion fee, but that’s it.

(I wasn’t kidding when I said I was an evangelist)

ThatJenn (#916)

@probs Also, people with absolutely no affiliation with the military can get USAA’s banking services (just not their insurance services). So very worth it – I love them as a bank. The lack of ATM fees/refunding of the fees, great customer service, perfectly adequate-to-good website… I love them so hard.

@polka dots vs stripes People say I’m an evangelist about USAA, too, but I’m just preaching the truth, is how I see it. :)

OhMarie (#299)

My husband’s a computer programmer and he makes phone systems at his job. I have picked up many hot tips–my favorite is that if you are dealing with one of the voice recognition systems, it knows swears. If you swear at it, it will usually bypass the system and get you a rep.

lindseykai (#1,544)

I have phone service and a credit card through Credo, and their customer service reps are the best.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

I called Wine Selectors yesterday. The phone rang once, and then was picked up by a REAL PERSON.
No “if you want to speak to customer service, please press X” rigamarole – just a person. A friendly, intelligent, person. Speaking my language clearly.
In terms of customer service experiences, it was double-rainbow standard.

selenana (#673)

Except when you tweet at customer service and they ignore you. I’m looking at you, Delta.

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