Is it child labor to pay my kids a nickel to wait on hold with Customer Service Representatives for me?  Asking for a friend. . .

If you happen to be a customer support rep from a company that provides my family some service, don’t be surprised when you pick me from the queue and hear a 4-year-old (she’s only got a teensy lisp) say  “Just a moment while I get my Daddy…”

I know, I’m horrible right?  But let’s take a moment to think about this:

  • You’ve picked me off a queue that’s been waiting for (umpty-nine) minutes for “service”

  • I’m already paying you for the service that I am calling you about

  • You’ve probably had auto selectors asking me silly questions (that you already have the answers to based on my phone number) for 10-20 minutes before you put me on hold (again)  look up the service for which I am already paying you

  • You’ll most likely start our conversation by repeating those same silly questions because your automated tool didn’t post them for you, or because you are stalling whilst you try to finish up your notes on your last call…

In effect, if I’ve been on hold before we spoke, I’ve been paying TIME for something I’m already paying MONEY for – doesn’t it make sense that eventually I’d find some way to try to defray that cost a bit?  Alan Nance gets to the heart of this issue when he talks about The Money Value of Time (MVT) in this LinkedIn article, though, what with all of the people to put on hold, I’m not sure if you’ve had the chance to read it.

Actually, I think I may be doing you more of a favor than you know.  After I’ve been on hold for a good 20-30 minutes I’m usually pretty frustrated, and that’s never a good way to start a conversation.  This way, I can do another 20 minutes of work to help me pay for even more “services” just like the one you’re providing…

And hey, I think it’s a good lesson for my children.  They learn what is likely to become a critical life-skill:  navigating the countless options and obfuscations to actually get the services for which they are paying.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m sure (?) that all of these obstacles and options were created with the best of intentions – to get me to the service I need as quickly as possible (or so the messages all claim) – but really, truly, honestly?  They don’t.

So I sic my kids on ‘em.  And, they LOVE it!!  They feel important and they put their heart into it.  My 8-year-old puts on her glasses and taps her pencil as she searches through the paper copies of bills and contracts that YOU already have a copy of, so she can give you back the information YOU have right there on your computer.  And, she doesn’t mind performing all of the time consuming and non-productive trouble-shooting work you require her to do for the service I’m paying you for, before you actually spend any effort to resolve the issue yourself.  In fact, she’s entertained by this – and she’s earning a nickel for it, after all, and she’s too young to understand the money value of her time.

My 4-year-old will shout out to me every couple minutes “I’m still on hold Daddy!  The music is pretty, but there aren’t any words or anything….”  She’s all heart, and she can’t wait to hear your voice, and she’ll be delighted to show you her good manners – and she won’t mind having to show those same good manners over and over again as you put her on hold, only to start the same conversation with another representative.  She will happily chat with all of you until I can come to the phone.

You know, come to think of it, maybe there’s a lesson here for people providing service (including myself) too.  What if we put the same focus and intention (and heart) about supporting the services we provide that my 4-year-old does waiting for you to pick her off of hold?

On that note, I’ve gotta go – my daughter’s telling me the Airline Agent is ready to take my call for a flight I’ve already paid for…

Published On: August 12th, 2022 / Categories: Miscellania /

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