Jewish World Review May 14, 2004 / 23 Iyar, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Jeff Jacoby
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


Really, your call is important to them

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Niceness is sweeping the country. No, not in the presidential campaign, you ninny. In the telephone customer rep service departments.

The last three times I've been on hold, it's been the same story. I'm hanging on the phone watching the time tick by, beginning to fume as repeatedly I am told that my call is important. Smoke billows from my ears as I hear a recording say, "Due to the high volume of calls, your wait time will be 20 minutes."

Just when I begin to consider crawling through the phone line to the other end, there's a click. A voice says, "I do apologize for your wait. I'm so sorry."

I am completely and totally disarmed. I uncoil the phone cord that I was cracking like a whip and resume breathing.

It's unusual for a corporation to apologize to the little guy. It's unusual enough to make you want to retract some of the nasty thoughts you had about the corporation - not all, just some - while you were dangling on hold.

Once I was on hold with a hospital so long that I had time to listen to three cycles of their recording describing early warning signs of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. By the time someone answered the phone, I was pretty sure I had a pain in my right arm that was a heart attack, a headache due to hypertension and a craving for orange juice that was no doubt a sign of dangerously low blood sugar.

When the voice asked if I had gotten through to radiology - I had been holding for bookkeeping - I told her I needed to hang up and dial 9-1-1 and that I'd call back later. Now, if the voice had picked up that phone and apologized for my wait, I would have been healed without so much as a referral or a co-pay.

Donate to JWR


Since this uncanny business of apologizing for my wait has happened several times lately, I'm wondering if it's not a new customer rep retraining program marching across the country. If it is, clear the path so they can get everywhere and anywhere they want.

The words and the tone of voice are so identical, you sense the customer service staff was given a script to memorize and trained by a voice coach. The females have a maternal softness when they apologize, warm and caring, but still in control. The males tend to be somewhere between Mr. Rogers and Barry White. Gentle, but still willing to fight for their sweaters.

That simple act of acknowledging me as a human being, who has other things to do with time, is so out of the ordinary that I become putty in their hands.

"You need my account number? Oh, let me get it, please. No, I insist! I'll look it up."

Last week I was on the phone with my Internet service provider that has been double billing me for six months. After three phone calls the problem finally seemed resolved. The service rep, who had apologized for my wait when he picked up the phone, was now asking if there was anything else he could do.

I was tempted to deliver a small recap of the ease at which they messed up the bill compared to the difficulty they had straightening it out, when he kindly said again, "Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

"No. I'm fine. You've been very helpful; thank you."

Civility. Amazing how a little bit goes such a long way.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

04/30/04: When tech support shuts down Easy for kids, hard for Mom and Dad
04/23/04: Being sick has never been so fun
04/16/04: When Mom and Dad go marketing
04/02/04: Kids, say it loud! I'm intelligent and I'm p-r-o-u-d proud
03/26/04: Clothing wars every mom for herself
03/19/04: Marriage: A peek into the crystal ball
03/12/04: Women don't burp and buy like they used to
03/05/04: Sometimes wishes do come true, even for grown-ups
02/27/04: Family there to give Mom the business
02/06/04: Chance for big money slips through her fingers
01/30/04: Profanity brings out the f-word (fury)
01/23/04: Lots of labels in this union
01/16/04: Cheap eats in college? Use your noodle
01/02/04: 2003 boasted a cast of colorful characters
12/19/03: Hours at the stove, moments at the table
12/12/03: The way they dress, "boxers or briefs?" isn't a question
12/05/03: Hey, hey, we're the monkeys (or close enough)
11/26/03: Hardship? We don't know the meaning
11/21/03: Good kids! Wonder who raised them
11/14/03: Safety first, even when danger has passed
10/24/03: NFL fan learns to handle heightened sensations
10/03/03: Chipping away at misunderstood lists
09/26/03: Boundaries disappear, society pays the price
09/19/03: Easy (bike) rider
09/12/03: Got Mom?
09/05/03: S'Mores Maker threatens all we hold dear (and gooey)
07/25/03: Private journals, public records
07/25/03: Star appears bright-eyed, bushy-tailed
07/18/03: Girls pool talents for commercial success
07/11/03: Summer; the living is easy
07/03/03: Terrible twos make terrific workout
06/27/03: Emergency a matter of definition
06/13/03: A Father's Day roast for Mother Goose
06/05/03: Good examples of bad parenting
05/23/03: Faulty equations on the love calculator
05/16/03: Busted for Oreos!
05/09/03: Mom plus shipping equals excitement
05/02/03: Mom shudders at thought of the m-a-l-l
04/21/03: Mother Confessions
04/11/03: Husband snoring: Hit or mist
04/04/03: Flip flops hashed at the lunch table
03/28/03: Bare facts on protesters
03/21/03: Madonna: Like an Author
03/17/03: Mom develops rapport with son's answering machine
03/07/03: The call for courage
02/28/03: My relationship with Mister Rogers
01/31/03: Mom pushes memories out the door
01/24/03: Picture this! Human 'beans'
01/10/03: Password, please!
12/31/02: Who it was a good year for
12/06/02: Radio show guarantees family-size audience
12/02/02: High-seas adventure would enlist few takers today
11/15/02: Frozen turkey makes cook chicken out
11/15/02: What's going on with "going out?"
11/01/02: The crazy mind of middle-age
10/25/02: Relationship rooted in willow talk
10/18/02: The challenge of being spontaneous
10/11/02: No wheels, no keys, no problem?
10/04/02: Lessons of a childhood survivor --- my children's
09/20/02: "Cutting the Cord" to the Tube
09/13/02: Over there
08/30/02: The Last One Left
08/23/02: Rare sighting made on the patio
08/16/02: Kids get reality paycheck
08/08/02: We look like this . . . no, Kidman!
08/02/02: We should be a nation of 'nuts'!
07/26/02: Hold your applause --- please!
07/19/02: Greed and Mints on the Pillows
07/12/02: Remodeling: Blueprint for Disaster
07/08/02: The Botox wrinkle
06/28/02: One perfect day
06/21/02: Flush with excitement
06/14/02: The Ways a Father Says "I Love You"
06/07/02: Garage Sale Treasures
05/31/02: No Pudgy Hour at the gym
05/19/02: Ozzy, if you come for dinner, bring change
05/19/02: Instant Messaging and LOL
05/10/02: Some mothers get something more
05/03/02: I Nudge, Therefore I Am
04/25/02: Motherhood is seasonal work
04/19/02: Paper trail to college
04/12/02: What to cook or not to cook
03/31/02: Mom and Dad Break Curfew
03/22/02: Introducing P.P.M. (Partners Per Month)
03/15/02: Birth of a Pothole
03/08/02: When Enron Momma gets mad
03/01/02: Little hope for bookaholic
02/22/02: Wrestling with prejudice
02/15/02: Say What?
02/08/02: Kitchen intelligence
02/01/02: Age-old words
01/25/02: Abortion: Switching Sides
01/18/02: Kids, take note
01/11/02: The heart-stopper e-mail
01/04/02: The slightly sunny side of 2001
12/28/01: The Way Things Work
11/30/01: The Leftover Shuffle begins
11/27/01: Glasses bring age into focus
11/16/01: A different portion of Thanks
11/09/01: The Next Stage of Parenting
11/01/01: Of boys and patriotism
10/26/01: College Son the Invisible Man
10/19/01: Out of the closet ... and into the school
10/12/01: A Parent's Guide to Dating
10/05/01: "Taking Care of You"
09/28/01: Time indivisible
09/24/01: Refueling capitalism
09/14/01: A time to mourn
09/07/01: Lack of modesty stirs the troops
08/31/01: Scholarship search an education
08/24/01: The test for parents
08/17/01: Immodest proposals
08/10/01: Trying to R-r-r-re-re-relax
08/03/01: It may be shabby and chic, but it ain't cheap
07/20/01: Bride showered with sage advice
07/13/01: Baby Bear Finds Driving "Just Right"
07/06/01: Pale at the Thought of Bronze
06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman