Customer Service that's Bad Enough to Sing About

All over the world, people gather in town squares and concert halls and sing their complaints to orchestral arrangements. The complaints cover all aspects of life but many of them are gripes about customer service, contact centers and local municipalities. Glee Club it’s not. The Philadelphia Complaints Choir sings their displeasure with contact centers by mocking their automated messages. “Due to unusually high call volume, our operators are busy assisting other customers! Your call will be answered in the order it was received! Your call is very important to us!” These refrains repeat several times throughout their performance. Their customer service tirade might have carried far more pathos if it weren’t sandwiched between laments such as, “New Jersey drivers can’t drive or park” and “I have gas!”

However amusing their efforts, these choirs fall into the same mindset of helplessness and hopelessness that pervades all aspects of our complaining psychology. Their complaints are remarkably ineffective and their performances do little to create change or address specific companies.

Other choirs around the world focus their complaints on municipality services with equal vigor as they do corporations. If nothing else, they do provide interesting travelogues about world cities. For example, listening to the Helsinki choir would alert us that “the tram smells of pee.” However, judging by the refrain, the Helsinki choir members’ most pressing concern is, “I don’t get laid enough”. Perhaps they shouldn’t take the tram to dates.

Continuing the municipalities services oeuvre, the Chicago choir is upset that, “Buses bunch up worse than granny panties.” An important piece of tourist information, albeit one conveyed with a visual most of us could have done without.

What I find so unfortunate about complaints choirs is they invest huge amounts of time and energy into complaining yet do so in a manner that guarantees none of their problems will be resolved. And yet, they could easily sing their dissatisfactions in ways that made their complaints effective. For example, if the Helsinki choir stood in front of their city hall and sang to their town government, “You’d better make sure trams don’t smell of pee, or you won’t get reelected, just wait and see!” their trams might actually get cleaned.

Indeed, singing their complaints to the actual companies, business or municipalities that can actually do something about them does not cross these choirs’ minds. Yet, despite their utter complaining inefficiency, complaints choirs continue to sprout up in cities, towns and universities all over the world. If this trend continues, the next frontier for customer service might just be the concert hall.

Copyright 2011 Guy Winch