7 Sep 2004

“Is this the right room for an argument?”

Part One in my master class in how to deal with Call Centres …

“I wish to register a complaint…” thus begins the Dead Parrot Sketch, a cornerstone of British comedy, and the staple part of the repertoire of every pub bore in the country, and not without reason, for the British are notoriously crap at complaining. This is compounded by the fact that customer service workers are crap at dealing with complaining customers.

Cultural commentators tend to put this down to innate British politeness, however they are missing the point: when did complaining and ‘not being polite’ become mutually exclusive? The British are poor at complaining because they feel the need to be nasty and people working in customer service respond in kind.

Politeness disarms even the most ruthless Call Centre worker. It may seem obvious, but I speak to 100’s of people a month who think that being a complete and utter twat is the best means of achieving success in getting a refund on that ‘jumper de-fluffer’ that was bought on impulse.

They’re wrong and I have the scalps to prove it …