Nov 29, 2006

Language barrier

My job consists of me dealing with clients from all over the world. See my company does have subsidiaries located in various countries, but all of them, sans Japan, run on a 9-5 Mon-Fri shift in their local time. When they close and one of our large customers has a problem they get routed to the US. This can lead to some difficulties as one can imagine. Actually it may even lead to a raging alcohol bender that has me waking up in German brothel with a tortoise and no recollection of the past two weeks.

Take this call I had a while back for example:

Me: I see your phone number here is listed as xx-xxx-xxx-xx (international dialing standard). Is that correct?
Customer: number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. Hello?
Me: Yes I'm here. Thank you. That's the same number I have listed here. Is there an alternate phone number you'd like to leave with us?
Customer: My number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. Hello?
Me: Yes I'm still here. That's the primary number I have for you. Would you like to leave another phone number with us in case we have difficulty reaching you at the one you provided?
Customer: My number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. Hello?
Me: Yes I'm still here sir. (I gave up trying to get another phone number out of him.) I see your email address is Is that correct?
Customer: My number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. Hello?
Me: Yes I'm still on the line sir. I have your phone number listed correctly. Can you please confirm your email address?
Customer: My number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. Hello?

My patience is weaning, but this is a large client with a serious issue that must be handled with the greatest of care.

Me: Okay sir I understand your phone number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. I do have that listed for you and if we get disconnected I'll call you back at that number. Now I see you're having an issue with (insert long geek language technical problem).
Customer: My number is xx-xx....
Me: ...Sir. Please I don't need to know your phone number. Just please confirm that this is the issue you are having.
Customer: My number is...
Me: ...Sir please is there anyone else available that I can speak with?
Customer: Yes.
Me: Great. May I speak with him please?
Customer: My number is xx-xxx.....
Me: ....Sir, sir, sir. We are having communication issues here. I need you to find someone that I can speak with in regards to the issue you are having. Please put them on the phone so we can begin getting someone to fix this issue. I no longer need your phone number.
Customer: ......
Me: Sir?
Customer: I speak English no.
Me: You speak English no?
Customer: Hello?
Me: Yes?
Customer: English no.
Me: Do you have anyone who can speak English?
Customer: English no.
Me: Okay. Your account does provide for translator services. What languages can you speak? (The customer was calling from Singapore which means he could be speaking any number of dialects and I wasn't going to wake up each and every translator just to find out which one can handle this).
Customer: My number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx. Hello?

After a few minutes the customer got frustrated and finally got someone on the phone who could speak English.

Me: Hi my name is Erik. May I have your name please?
Customer: Yes my name is Ying. My number is xx-xxx-xxx-xx.
Me: So I'm told.

I need to drink more.

"Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all." - Walt Whitman


Scott said...

Such good times....


PaBLo G said...

No habla Ingles?
OMG, omg, that Whitman quote is like, so true.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you... I know you miss the old me back in the day yelling at these customers. You know you do! ~Andrea~