Shortly after I had moved in with Mama last winter, we had dealt with a few computer issues with our previous Internet service provider. I had problems also, so I knew that it wasn’t just error on Mama’s part. And because she held the account, I had let her do the calling when the last problem occurred.
While working on my laptop, I heard the phone conversation from the dining room. Mama easily gets frustrated when she doesn’t understand something and she is also of the generation where the customer is always right. To come across a business who no longer acknowledges that the customer is the life of their business and to put their needs first with courtesy and helpfulness is tragic.
I listened to Mama’s frustration and when she blurted out, “Are you from the United States of America?” I couldn’t help but laugh. She was speaking to a person overseas who was hired by our previous provider and she could not understand him. He also was not very patient with Mama. Needless to say – that was the last call to customer service of that cable company/Internet provider.
We have been a customer with EPB since the first of this year and I would love to see the call log of how many times they have received a call from Mama. It isn’t that ‘we’ have had any problems with EPB’s service… but they get a call quite often from Mrs. Bryan. After speaking with them once in order to set up my email, I have not had a problem and I love their service. I am glad that we made the switch and will never go back to the other carrier.
Mama, however, has had a few problems but it is hard for her to understand (or accept) that her problems could be user-related instead of with the company’s service being the problem. I am sure that whenever she calls EPB and speaks to one of their friendly representatives, they most likely know that the problem is not technical, but they are very courteous and patient to walk Mama through whatever problem she may have.
With the other company, they tried to get Mama to buy into an ‘extra service’ that would be charged to her monthly account just for tech support. EPB assured Mama that they did not charge for their support and were glad to help.
It is good to see a hometown company take such pride in old-fashioned values that ‘the customer comes first’, but it really makes my heart swell with gratitude when someone is nice to Mama. At her age, to get so much enjoyment out of sending emails and corresponding with family and friends through her little computer, it is something I encourage and would never want her to give up as long as she can do it. Yes, she is going to make user-errors and she won’t understand everything technical, but for what Mama does - she is pretty sharp! She is even on Facebook!
When she has computer issues that are pretty much simple things that I can help her with, I will do my best to teach her what she needs to do or how to navigate. But sometimes when she is writing an email and all of a sudden it ‘just disappears’ and she panics, if I can’t help her … she calls the good folks at EPB.
I have heard her side of the conversation many times and as sweet and precious as Mama is… sometimes she doesn’t realize how she sounds when she comes out with things. They call that “not having a filter” as people get older. She doesn’t mean any harm with what she says, but her innocence allows her to say whatever she is thinking. Brian and I tease her all the time about not using her filter when she will come out with something and it always has us laughing.
I keep an album on my Facebook page called, “Mama Said”. I make little posters of the things she will say that strike me as funny. I know that I must have about three of them in regard to EPB!
As many reps that EPB has, I am sure they are aware of how many of them have talked to Mama. And the nice thing is – they still are courteous and ready to help her. They never try to charge her for a technical support service and they never talk down to her or tell her she is at fault.
Because I never have problems with their service, I assume that is it a user error when Mama has a problem, and I probably get frustrated with her more than EPB does. Being her daughter, I can get impatient or frustrated when she doesn’t listen to me or is stubborn in saying that she didn’t do anything to cause the problem. But EPB never does. They have never once lost their patience with Mama and they have always been friendly and helpful until her problem was resolved or… until she felt better just because they listened and took time to care.
Who does this anymore? For a company as big as EPB to have the reputation with customer service like they do and for Mama to have called as many times as she has – she has never dealt with an impatient person and that speaks volumes about their company.
Recently, when Mama lost an email she was writing, she called the “Exceptional People Backup force inc.” (EPBfi) once again.
As I worked on my laptop in the other room, I heard Mama’s filter crash on the floor when she said, “Well, can’t you just call me back? I don’t want to hold forever…”. The person on the other line assured Mama that they would be right back with her. It was a short wait as far as customer service goes, but it was long enough for Mama’s mind to get interested in something else on her computer. When the tech arrived on the line, I heard Mama say in frustration, “Oh, I was in the middle of doing something, but I guess I can talk to you right now... okay, here is my problem...". She was the one who called them… she needed their service and was on hold for less than two minutes but they had interrupted her.
I have been in the customer service workforce before and, yes, there are times when you get a repeat customer who seems to always have a problem. They become endearing to you after a while even though at times you may want to avoid them.
I envisioned this scenario in my head when Mama called and they saw her name on caller ID:
Wide eyes with fright asking someone else to take the call
Laughter ensuing from coworkers as the person receiving the call had to take it
Money being handed to the winner who called the exact day it would be before she called again
But thankfully, after customer service put Mama on hold in order for tech support to get on the line, they were very patient with her not wanting to hold and God bless Grant Robinson, the technician who came on the line (and interrupted Mama after she had become engrossed in something else) for his patience.
His first mission was to assure Mama that he would help her and his second mission was to find out if it were something that EPB needed to fix. His third mission was to make Mama feel important as a customer, and not to talk down to her or blame her as he explained what he thought may have happened. He said he would check into it more to make sure and he hung up.
Soon after, Mama received an email from Grant who thoroughly explained what user error could have been made and how to avoid it, but he did not make her feel isolated in the problem or that she ‘just didn’t understand’. He cared that Mama was a customer. He cared that she may not understand everything and he took the time to explain what he could.
EPB has always been this way when she calls. I wonder if she will be on a first name basis with them eventually.
It may be funny and make me laugh when I hear her call them up… but honestly, it also gets me a little misty-eyed to know that someone cares for my Mama when she doesn’t understand something and they take time for her.
Thank you, EPB customer service and technical support, for being a call away, in the same city and for caring about your customers!