Based upon a recent customer service “dialogue,” here’s how I think the training goes at one of the larger U.S. telephone companies. (The company shall remain nameless, but it begins with an “A.”)

Thoughtfulness begins with their written communication. Whoever designed their statements must have been playing “hide the cheese.” You can’t find the phone number. Oh, and customer service is closed on the weekends. Ahem …

Then the fun begins Monday morning. After 20 minutes on hold, this ensues:

Representative: Hello. How can I provide you with extremely satisfied service?

Caller: I called a week ago to have my phone service resumed at our home. Here is the confirmation number. The long-distance phone service is still not turned on.

Training Manual: Don’t apologize to caller and diffuse their state of inconvenience. Keep them in a state of angst — makes the work day feel shorter.

Transfer the call without telling them you are about to do so. Have customer spend enough time on the phone to go through the marketing spiel three times. Then, advise them that if they hang up, they will have to call again. Then, and only after you have admonished them, don’t have any music that signifies they are still connected to you.

When “repair” eventually answers, again, don’t apologize. This call is being recorded, and you will be demoted if you hint of concern. Even when they repeat the confirmation number that service will be turned on three days ago, tell them they will certainly be placed on the bottom of the list for repair.

Caller: Given my inconvenience, couldn’t you give me some priority?

Representative: The law won’t allow us to do that. 

Caller (thinking): Law???????

Sound familiar? Now, I am sure this company wants to offer service that separates it from its competitors in a positive way. I think I know what’s missing. What do you think went wrong?