Ordering Online Versus Calling it In: Which is Better?
Let’s say you struggle with internet terms & conditions and privacy policies that go on forever, a slow connection, or an enrollment form that just won’t accept your information. Or you try order that item or sign up for that service (like internet, or telephone, or a subscription) online, only to find that after you have entered your credit card information no less, some error was encountered, and you are asked to call customer service.
So you call customer service. Or maybe you don’t even bother with the internet side first and go straight to the telephone, weary of your information being stored or lost in electronic purgatory, or hoping to get a better deal by talking to a human being.
The customer service agent seems nice enough, however they don’t actually speak English. Or they don’t understand your query. Or you spend another half an hour trying to accomplish that which could have been done online in half the time (had it worked). Or you just plain sit on hold for…ever.
It has happened to all of us.
It seems we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If we sign up for a certain service or place an order online, we may miss the fine print that could have saved us money by calling the order in. Or we try to place the order by phone, only to become so frustrated by the lack of efficiency that we hang up and go back to the computer.
And in running between the phone and the computer, we wonder how badly we really need that service or product after all.
Here are a few pros and cons to signing up for services or placing orders online, versus calling customer service:
Why Calling Customer Service Rocks
- Talking to humans (especially if you are nice) can result in additional discounts, and even the possible discovery of special promotions.
- Customer service has the ability to customize and discount a plan or product, especially if you ask for the manager.
- Having somebody’s name builds in accountability (keep records of your calls) if you run into trouble later on.
Why Calling Customer Service is a Pain
- Humans make mistakes, and you have no way of knowing what they are entering into their computers.
- Phoning in an order can take longer.
- Calling cues are a bitch. I recently heard “Your call will be answered in approximately…4…minutes” – which turned into the longest 4 minutes in my life…45 minutes later.
Why Using Online Platforms Rocks
- There are often additional discounts available to online customers (just the other day, I spent 10 minutes on hold while a customer service rep tried to find the online discount I was referring to in a botched online order. In frustration I hung up and re-placed the order…online).
- You can ensure that your personal information (like your name and address) is properly entered.
- If you sign up for a service online, it usually means that ongoing bills and communication will also be sent online, saving paper.
Why Online Orders are a Pain
- Signing up for a service online can launch you into a category of customer that is entitled to little to no customer assistance.
- Signing up online for an internet service (when you don’t have internet to begin with) is a little difficult.
- Security of credit card and personal information can be compromised.
- Once you press that “submit” button, you always wonder if the order will actually go through properly. Horror stories abound.
For me, the jury is still out on whether it is better to use customer service to place orders or sign up for new services, or to simply live my life digitally. I have had both success and horror stories for each. What about you?