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Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us: Customer Service and What It Reveals About Our World and Our Lives Paperback – Bargain Price, August 17, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If youve ever been mildly frustrated, extremely irritated or driven just plain mad by automated customer service lines, rude telephone service representatives or agents who cant speak intelligible English, this book is for you. Yellin (Our Mothers War) dives into the often dysfunctional world of customer service, exploring the multimillion-dollar industry from various points of view, interviewing exasperated consumers, displeased CEOs and infuriated customer service reps themselves. She includes transcripts of agonizing telephone exchanges, such as one where an AOL rep tries to thwart a customers cancellation of his account, blog excerpts from reps who feel abused and as if they are being treated as machines and countless stories from irritated and confused managers. While Yellins study offers more industry anecdotes than concrete solutions, readers will likely look at the industry differently and with more empathy for those who participate in it. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"If you've ever been frustrated by automated customer service lines, rude telephone service representatives or agents who can't speak intelligible English, this book is for you. Yellin dives into the often dysfunctional world of customer service, interviewing exasperated consumers, displeased CEOs and infuriated customer service reps. Readers will likely look at the industry differently and with more empathy." -- Publishers Weekly


"For small business owners, Yellin's prodigiously researched book is a useful cautionary tale." -- Fortune Small Business Magazine


"Ms. Yellin, a Memphis-based journalist, mixes polls and studies with excerpts from published reports and her own insightful reporting from call centers and related businesses in the U.S. and overseas... [she] is an illuminating guide whose conclusions are sound" -- Wall Street Journal


"After death, taxes and inclement weather, it's one of life's most inescapable downers: the customer-service call. Getting help can be an automated hell, an eternity of Muzak, code punching and security questions. Which is why the title of Emily Yellin's customer-friendly romp through this unfriendly world rings so true: 'Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us.'" -- Newsweek


"According to the author, [customer service is] a barometer of how we communicate and how we treat each other not only nationally but globally and across all sorts of barriers." -- Memphis Flyer


"Yellin divulges the woes of mistreated consumers, striking a chord not only with adults who have fantasized about destroying stubborn fax machines and voice recognition systems, but also those who take their revenge on companies by posting injustices on the Web. Yellin doesn't just dwell on complaints, however. She also looks at our nature to complain, what we complain about and how we do so. She adeptly covers the history of technology and its role in consumerism and customer service." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416546901
  • ASIN: B005HKKUNK
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,376,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Young on December 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew Emily Yellin was a fair writer when Fred Smith, founder of Fedex actually sat and visited with her and shared stories. Mr Smith is long past the point of having time to retell old stories, and seldom makes himself available anymore, but he knew she'd come prepared with days of insight and careful observation. He came to life with her questions because she is not coming for a pick, to get even, or leave with an agenda. She's simply reporting how some company's have worked hard to see all this from the customer perspective, and how other company's paid a price by not realizing customers keep calling if ignored and tell friends and websites if talked down to. Her followup to confirm stories was impressive as she could have relied on emotionally driven blogs to jazz up this book. She seeks to show both sides. She's NO hack. She's written for the NY Times, Washington Post, and Time, and one senses she just had a real curiosity about this topic and WANTED to write the book. A good study at the corporate level for sure. John Young
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Format: Hardcover
Being in the IT idustry I really could relate to this book. Who doesn't get annoyed at customer service? However, after reading this I understand why and as a result I feel a lot calmer. It's not just a chronicle of customer complaints, the book also brings us the view of the people inside the call centers and executive offices around the world. It's a smart, fun, entertaining read and even offers hope for the future.
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If you have ever worked in a customer service call center or tried to get help from one, this book will explain why both are so frustrating. Most companies treat call centers like a drain on profits and do not adequately train or motivate the people who answer their phones, nor do they allow them to make decisions.

The author, Emily Yellin, visits traditional customer service call centers as well as those companies that use call centers as an information resource. She shows how the traditional call centers drive customers away and smart call centers help recruit and retain customers over the long term.

Since many corporate executives think only about the numbers on the next quarterly report, they often miss the long term benefits inherent in serving their customers. Yellin provides quite a bit of evidence supporting this conclusion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a person working in this industry, I thought the book was very entertaining and true to life. I'll fess up: I'm a Voice User Interface designer, one of those people who write "phone trees." So I have spent a lot of time working with people in call centers. The book captures that world well, and is a good, and readable, introduction to people who are new to the call center / customer service industry.

She doesn't offer a lot of new conclusions or anything earth shattering for people like me who have been doing it for awhile (but then, I suspect that the general public is her target audience, not me).

She points out that companies are continually walking a line between saving money and serving their customers. She mentions that the "silos" between organizations in a business sometimes get in the way of good communication and good customer service. And, she says that good customer service has to come from a commitment from management at the highest levels of the company. None of this is a surprise.

However, she does offer some interesting tidbits and useful quotes, some from other sources. It's always nice to have new sources for presentations, especially numbers and quotes.

The chapter I thought most worth a read was her interview with David McQuillen, the first "Director of Customer Experience" at Credit Suisse. (p. 248-259) It was very interesting to read his techniques for how he got other parts of his organization to start paying attention to customer satisfaction. He does a lot of "experience immersion," where he makes executives and members of his organization get direct experience with how it feels to be a customer of their organization.
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This book is a MUST have and MUST read for all persons dealing in customer service. Whether you are a CSR, Manager, or Professor (as I am) teaching Business courses this book is an invaluable addition to the Customer Service Library.
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I really enjoyed this book. It really explains what is wrong with telephone customer service these days. It gives a brief history about how different phone systems evolved, including those dreadful menu systems everyone hates (Press 1 for this, press 2 for that.) It is evident the author did extensive research, including going to South America to check into the outsourced customer service industry.

This book should be required reading for those penny-pinching executives who make the decisions about customer service departments. Perhaps they will be reminded that they are supposed to serve the customer.
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Format: Hardcover
In this breezy and entertaining account of customer service, the reader is treated to an excellent overview of the common issues, underlying and emerging technologies, and the impact of outsourcing/offshoring on customer service. The recounting of Comcast's trouble with customer service provides an excellent backdrop for the discussion in the entire book. Snippets about notable traits on customer service in a good number of well-known companies such as Dell, FedEx, AmTrak, AMEX, Amazon, etc. provide an interesting read. Readers may be surprised that there are no examples from the healthcare industry(insurance companies should be a gold mine of customer-service-gone-bad stories). While the author is very successful in providing a good context for some of the following discussions (on speech technology and impact of outsourcing on the customers and the call center operators, for instance), the subtitle of the book may come across as a mild oversell if the reader interprets it in a "psychological" context. Nevertheless, the discussion on outsourcing and a well-balanced account (rarely mentioned at least in Western media)from operators in India, Latin America and Saudi, touches upon some of our inherent biases and predispositions. The discussions centering on GetHuman in the context of emerging speech technologies and general patience of customers is engaging, though Yellin could have perhaps used that as the central theme to justify her subtitle. The sparse set of notes and citations in the book is surprising for a book that provides an excellent background for the industry and its current/emerging themes. Overall, a good entertaining read.
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