26 August 2017
World's most expensive light
Is there anything that fills you with dread more than knowing you have to call your internet provider’s tech helpline?
“Can you tell me the colour of the light on the router, sir?” asked a heavily-accented call centre worker.
“Sure, it’s yellow,” I replied.
“Sorry sir, our routers don’t have yellow lights. We only have green and white.”
“Well, this router does. Okay, well, it’s more of a pale yellow light now I really look at it.”
“It’s definitely not green, sir?”
“I know what green looks like.”
“Okay, then it must be a white light that you’re talking about, as I can see here on my system that your model of router doesn’t have a yellow light."
“If you say so,” I said through gritted teeth, eyes closed.
How many people have phoned this company’s off-shored team and had a similar conversation about the colour of that light? With millions of customers it’s not hard to see how much time, and hence, money, this must cost the company in call centre charges. It also goes without saying that pissing off your customers is not a great business strategy.
Executives are quick to take shortcuts and make the easy decisions.
It’s so easy to skimp and save by off-shoring an entire team and have them read from a script. Easy and cheaper to skimp on design and produce products with a lack of empathy.
But the joke is on them. How much money would they save if the colour of the light wasn’t open to interpretation? How much money would they save if their service didn’t malfunction in the first place? Certainly enough to keep the call centre here. Enough to impress their customers to such an extent that they would feel obliged to tell all their friends about it.
As ever, the long way round is usually the shortcut.