My Apologies to Andy Rooney

Edition: June 2003 - Vol 11 Number 06
Article#: 1550
Author: Repertoire

Most everyone has at one time or another listened to the rantings of Andy Rooney ? CBS? 60 Minutes curmudgeon. Well, as I approach Rooney?s age, many in the industry have been kind enough to point out some of the similarities they recognize in Rooney and me. (For example, my eyebrows are getting bushier.) You see, I get just as irritated and upset about little things in business and life as Rooney does.

In this month?s letter to Repertoire readers, I?ve been given the chance to vent my frustrations Rooney-style. Finding things that frustrate me wasn?t hard. Limiting them to a single column was another story. So here goes.

Do you ever wonder what happened to common customer service? I do. Just the other day, I called AT&T Wireless for the seventh time this year. I got a new cell plan months ago and they hadn?t sent a bill to my office all year. They just keep shutting my service down for non-payment of bills we never received. When I called to investigate, I learned they?d sent the bills to an old home address that I hadn?t lived at for more than four years ? five months in a row. When I asked to speak with a supervisor I was told ?No,? because according to the lady on the line, they were ?all equally empowered,? whatever that means. When I told her that it was no small wonder why AT&T was performing horribly as a company, somehow I was suddenly disconnected. Don?t you hate that?

Another thing that bugs me is good manners when it comes to business. I don?t think I?m alone either. Why don?t people return phone calls? They used to. Back before e-mail, voicemail, PDAs, pagers and Blackberries, people communicated the old fashioned way. They picked up the phone and called the person they wanted to talk to. If he or she wasn?t available, a message was left with a secretary. And more times than not, within a day or so you got a call back. Imagine that! Heck, the entire dotcom boom and bust took place in less time than some calls are returned nowadays. At least that?s what I hear.

Is it just me or do you hate those automated voice systems? I get so darned confused with all the stupid choices they give you that more often than not I never wind up connecting with the proper voicemail box. (Notice I didn?t even insinuate that you might actually make a live connection with a human!) I?m so bad at making the right selection, I was asked to help the University of Alabama pick their head football coach.

While we are on the topic, I thought e-mail was supposed to improve communications, not hinder them. It takes me an hour to sort through all the e-mail I get and decide which is real and which is spam. Between great deals on Viagra, mortgages and offers to enlarge parts of my body (I knew I never should have clicked on that link!), I waste about five hours a week deleting e-mails. Then, much like the phone calls that seem never to get returned, I salivate when a real live business-related e-mail arrives in my inbox!

What gives? I talk with a lot of people who seem to share the same sentiments. And before you can caution me to spare you the ?good old days? speech, I bet many of you remember the old United Airlines commercial where the CEO of a company that was losing business from great longtime customers passes out airline tickets to his sales people, so they can re-connect with their customers face-to-face. Why I bet today we?d all settle for an occasional voice-to-voice visit with our customers and partners.

So now that I?ve vented, I welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions. I?m easy to reach. Just call our 800 number and when the automated voice attendant picks up, punch ?three? for the employee directory. Or email me ? I usually have my Blackberry with me.

I?ll get back to you. Soon. I promise.