We've had numerous stories about how bad many companies are at returning customer support emails, but it seems that things don't get much better once you get on the phone. The NY Times is running a story about just how hard it is to reach people on the phone at many companies. Apparently, quite a few companies take their customer service strategies from satirical posters from Despair, Inc. This doesn't mean that automation is always a bad thing -- sometimes people don't need to talk to a human. However, when they do need to, it shouldn't be so hard to reach one. Still, as the article points out, perhaps an even better strategy is to improve the products enough that your customers don't need to call you so often.
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