I don't know about you, but I dread calling customer service, regardless of the company I'm calling.

Most of the time, I end up on hold for what seems like forever, listening to music that's intentionally annoying so that you'll hang up and self-service on the website... a suggestion that usually interrupts the music every thirty seconds or so.

When I finally get through to a human, half of the time it's somebody who barely speaks English*. I recently had two minute conversation trying to explain to a customer support person that my LAST name is James and my first name is Geoffrey.

It's maddening.

I often wonder what the CEOs of these companies think when they hire marketing managers who set up these horrible customer support lines. Do they realize that these policies are alienating their customers? Do they realize that bad customer support creates people who hate, hate, hate your company?

Well, one CEO who definitely gets this is Jeff Bezos, who's implemented an astoundingly brilliant move to ensure the executive responsible for customer support actually supports the company's customers.

As reported by Business Insider and detailed in the book The Everything Store, a few years ago around the Christmas holidays Amazon's Global VP of Customer Service claimed--in a meeting of 30 executives--that, despite a sharp uptick in customer calls, wait times were less than one minute.

In your typical staff meeting, that's the kind of statement that would likely go unchallenged. Indeed, I'll bet that the VP had some metrics and graphs showing how call volume had increased and how efficiently his team had met the challenge.

Bezos wasn't buying it.

Instead, he called the Amazon customer support line on the speakerphone, right then and there. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Remember, all 30 executives were in the room. The silence must have been beyond deafening. You can imagine the sweat dripping down the VP's face as the first minute passed. Then the second. Then the third. Then the fourth.

After "many minutes" somebody finally answered. Bezos said: "Just calling to check" and hung up.  Within a year, that VP was gone. Meanwhile Bezos's management team learned an important lesson: don't BS the big guy.

Seriously, every CEO in every company that has customer support should pull this stunt. Maybe then at least us mere mortals wouldn't be wasting cumulative hours of busy lives on hold for customer support.

* I changed this paragraph because it referred to East Asians in a way that made it seem as if they were part of the problem, when in fact the problem is management that's not willing to pay for support personnel who speak excellent English (regardless of where they're located) when dealing with US-originated support calls.

Published on: Apr 22, 2018