Monday, January 28, 2008

1 (800) C F I — CARE

The title of this post is part of an old H.R. joke. "H.R." as in Human Resources. I AM a Human Resources Manager, after all.

In today's fast-paced, "gotta do more" world, many company Human Resources departments have opted to replace personal service with the ubiquitous toll free number for employees to call if they have questions about pay, benefits, policies, and so on.

Me, I'm a dinosaur. I still pretend that this company's H.R. department is really a sales group, and our plant employees are my customers. I still answer my own phone when I'm in the office, and try to put a smile on my face and in my voice when responding to complaints and problems. Even when it seems that everybody is complaining. Even when it's been a stressful day.

Do I always succeed? Hell no! But I try.

Why? Well, even though the complaint or question that I'm fielding may seem simple or even trivial to me, often, to the employee, it's an all-consuming, major issue! And if the employee is consumed by the issue, chances are he or she is not fully concentrating on their job and a lot less efficient than if somebody dealt with the issue FOR them.

So yes, I'm still a believer in personal service. Even though we live in an impersonal world.

I've worked for companies that used the toll-free number solution. Most of you probably have. The number is answered by a disembodied, mechanical voice that repeats something like this:

"Thank you for calling the XYZ Company Human Resources hotline. For English, please press one. Para Espanol, marque el numero dos." Pause.

"Please listen carefully to the following options. Our menus have changed!"

"If you know your party's extension, you may dial it at any time."

"For payroll questions, press one. For health plan questions, press two. For claims forms, please go to our web site at Double-you Double-you Double-you, dot whattawasteoftime dot com."

. . . And so on, until you give up in disgust after pressing ZERO repeatedly as either a desperate attempt to talk to a live human, or as an indication of your opinion of the value of this "service."

We H.R. dinosaurs refer to that system as, "Please call 1-800-CFI-CARE." Because that system SCREAMS that the company doesn't. Care, that is.

As a comment to my last post about fixing a home network that wasn't broken, my good friend (and excellent writer, btw) Karyn Lyndon asked me, "Will you please post YOUR toll-free number so we can call you for help-desk advice?"

Karyn, I think I just did.


kenju said...

I think you are one of a dying breed, JOhn. More's the pity!

Anonymous said...

The best place to obtain your own toll free numbers is at

Nankin said...

Oh how true. But I'd rather punch buttons than speak to a frigging machine.

If you get pissed enough to hang up, it makes their lives a lot easier,