A Phone Call to Customer Service

I needed work on the vehicle, and with the husband working, I had to arrange it. ?£€<%##|}.!¥£€£|!!!!!!!!!

What was that?! Oh yeah… I had to make a phone call. No email, no Facebook message, but a phone call to arrange work on my vehicle. We’ve all had to make those types of calls, and they’re rarely quick or easy. We contend with that awful hold music, noise on the other end, people speaking too fast or with an accent. Sometimes that godawful menu comes up, with the “press one for ….”;. Today was no exception. My first attempt was frustrating, as I was transferred to customer service, and then put on hold. Then a lady comes on, and her voice is high pitched, and she spoke too fast. I immediately stated I had a cochlear implant, and couldn’t understand her. After a few minutes of trying to establish an appointment, and repeating myself that I needed her to slow down, I ended the call in frustration. I texted the husband, asking him to call. Later in the day he told me he was unable to, and asked me to try again. I did, and this time got a lady who was less high pitched, spoke normally, and immediately understood when I stated I was deaf. Within five minutes, my goal was accomplished, and the appointment set. This time, I understood 80% of the call! And it was my most successful since I was activated. Yay for the auditory verbal therapy. So after that successful call I was feeling pretty good.

Then I started thinking, about all the other times I had to make such calls, and the feelings of frustration I usually had. Every call I make, even to the doctor, has me feeling unsure about how I did. The worst part is, I often indicated that I am deaf, and needed them to speak slower, or repeat, and usually ended up calling back later with someone to help. Sometimes though, I still have to handle the call as they won’t allow someone else to speak for me when something is in my name, like a credit card. It’s extremely frustrating, when my husband clearly has my permission and authority to speak on my behalf that he is not allowed to do so. Stating that I am deaf seems useless at times.

Customer service representatives seem to have an inability to accommodate a deaf person on the phone. Often it seems like they ignore that statement, and press on with a scripted call. As disabled people, the law states that we must be accommodated by businesses, with wheelchair access, Braille, and so on. A deaf person, whose disability is largely invisible, seems left out in the cold. Just because I am using the phone, or trying to, it does not automatically invalidate my claim that I am deaf and need assistance. When a Deaf person relies solely on ASL and interpreters to communicate, they use a relay service to make calls when texts, emails or families aren’t available.

With the age of technology we are in, why hasn’t customer service caught up and provided other means of communicating with their customers. In some companies , online chat service is available, and some doctors, dentists, and small businesses will use email for their Deaf clients. When that isn’t available, we need these people to have patience when they are repeating themselves, to be open to another person assisting, and to actually LISTEN when we say that we are Deaf and need accommodations.

When a business or service ignores the needs of the Deaf community, simply because as a whole, we are rather invisible due to our deafness; that business or service could ultimately lose those potential clients. In the age of smartphones, computers, and the internet surely businesses and customer service centres would use online chats, email or Facebook messenger as an additional means of keeping in touch with their customer base. It may be time to reevaluate customer service and see how you can assist your Deaf customers, and extend and even maintain your customer base.

Friday December 6, 2013

An update. I had to take my vehicle back as it was leaking transmission fluid. I was on my way to Ottawa for my AVT appointment. They took a quick look and informed me the seal had cracked again, and I had to cancel my appointment. I did so, and they took me and my son home. Hours later, they called, but I missed it due to making lunch. They texted me to let me know a driver was coming. I unfortunately had to wake my son, but what made today easier to handle, was that they took the time to text me, knowing I was Deaf. It had been noted on my record from the last appointment, for repairs a week ago. I was really pleased that they remembered that, and took that extra step, however small it was to communicate effectively with me. Because of this, they will get my repeat business in the future.

Adding a link to my Communication Strategies post.

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