The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Making matters worse…

Recently I offered research suggesting technology is actually making us stupid (see ).  Last week, while enjoying a delightful discussion about rapidly responding to customers’ requests it dawned on me:

Is today’s technology actually making Customer Service matters worse, too?

One would expect that technology should be making us smarter and better vs. dumber and worser, true?  Welcome to the Department of Unintended Consequences.

Permit me to offer an example.  A while ago I needed to fly to Austin for a client engagement.  It was one week after I had elbow surgery.  Since my arm was set in a cast at a right angle, I was concerned about my seat assignment on Frontier Airlines.  It was one of those online reservations that indicated my seat would be assigned at the gate.  This of course meant, “You’ll be lucky if we give you a center seat Pal.”  I envisioned my elbow sticking out in the face of the person next to me.  Their automated reservation message made matters worse.

Worried, I called Frontier Airlines’ Customer Service line to see if they might acknowledge my situation and offer an accommodation.  The Automated Call Directory front-end to their Customer Service line said they were experiencing unusually high call volumes and my wait time might be long.  This of course meant, “We really don’t want to talk about your problem Pal.  Send us an email that we can ignore.”  Their ACD made matters worse.

Nonetheless, I’m a Modern Man – I stayed on hold and multi-tasked (as they were probably doing) until someone finally took my call.  The conversation was brief, and went along the usual making matter worse lines we have all been exposed to before:

How to Manage an Irate Client Call:

“I’m sorry you’re so upset.  I really feel your pain.  No, I don’t think we can fix the problem.  No, you can’t get your money back.  Well, I am the supervisor.  Let me transfer you to Mr. Dial Tone…” 

Unknown Sage

Being put-off by their lack of empathy, this Modern Man did what many of us do in today’s smart phone era:  I went to Facebook and screamed like a banshee!

Wouldn’t you know it?  Within a few minutes I received a very nice Facebook response from an anonymous Frontier Airlines person offering to help!  And the very nice, anonymous, Facebook person proceeded to pull invisible strings and gave me a window seat to accommodate my needs.

You might conclude that because of this very quick, Facebook response that my overall experience with Frontier Airlines’ Customer Service was positive.  It wasn’t.

Look – if we have to face Automated Call Directory trees designed to loop us through a corn maze until we give up; if we have to speak with some non-empowered Rep reading from an automated screen script that pops up depending on the category of our issue; if we have to rely on social media and screaming like a banshee every time we seek Customer Service; then at the end of this technology-laden, time-consuming; automated, impersonal experience, we will be worse off.

So though I no longer consider Frontier Airlines a viable travel option and would rather take Amtrak; and yes – I highlighted a travel experience knowing we all have our own horror stories.  The reality is this technology-laden, automated, impersonal approach to Customer Dis-Service all too often permeates all of our businesses; many of our own attitudes; and – IMHO – today’s technology is making matters worse.

Yours truly – the screaming banshee.


Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:



  1. Sharon Lobo
    Mar 11, 2015

    Love the story Gary……and yes, I agree with you. On a similar but different angle, here is a Psychology publication from the University of Waterloo that takes a look at the question, ” Do smartphones make us dumb?”

    • Gary
      Mar 17, 2015

      Thanks Sharon! And thank you for sharing a great link about smartphones 🙂 Thx, GAP

  2. Tony
    Mar 11, 2015

    Gary – you are not alone with technology and the dumbing down of society. I have this personal theory that I like to dispense at any opportune moment (although most of the moments involve a cold beverage) that I call the Theory of Distraction. I do not think it is a government plot a la Alex Jones or anything, but we have engineered distraction into the very existence of our society – through the Kardashians, the Denver Broncos and your smart phone.

    I have small kids and frequent playgrounds often. How this theory of distraction manifests itself is some mom or dad takes a photo of little Johnny on the slide and then IMMEDIATELY needs to post this to all of their “friends” around the planet. While posting this – Johnny falls off the slide, gets bit by a dog, craps his pants – whatever – and the reaction of the individual posting on their device to their child screaming because he just broke his collarbone is of utter annoyance. With their eyes, I can hear the scream of “Can you give me two minutes to prove to the world that you went down the slide!”. Or taking a picture of your dinner…when I was a kid, the TV and radio were off and no one was allowed to get up from the dinner table to answer the phone. The same man who scolded us and forced us to sit as a family to eat dinner now texts with his grandson’s while he eats his meals.
    YES – unequivocally technology makes us stupid…AND LAZY. I work with recent college graduates who can’t fathom the old days of telling your girlfriend that you will pick her up at 8:30. And guess what…at 8:25 I was at her door – every time. OR I gave ample notice to reschedule. The point here is that many of us long for the days where random people I see at a bar don’t tell me how cute my 4YO is or how much fun his birthday party LOOKED…on FB. I am in the minority here given my age and demographic, but I would rather be spending quality time, with no technology distractions, with my family. Turn it off, unplug, check out, do whatever – but take time, rather make time, to be in the moment. Do you know that there are now “Mindfulness Coaches” whose utter existence is to coach people on how to be in the moment?
    Also – customer service is even sloppier – I now have to yell at more people to get what I want. I have always had to get a little ugly to get my way in the department of dissatisfaction, but now the expectation is I do something to ruin their reputation a la FB or some other ridiculous review site. Really – unless I threaten you by defaming your reputation will you take me seriously. Careful what you wish for…I think.

    • Gary
      Mar 17, 2015

      Thanks for reading me Tony – WOW! my little ditty about technology seemed to strike a cord 🙂 But we can all relate! Thx, GAP

  3. Nathan Sumner
    Mar 13, 2015

    So, the moral of the story is to immediately go to facebook and start screaming like a banshee?

    • Gary
      Mar 17, 2015

      Thanks for reading me Nate! Maybe we should launch the screaming banshee site? 🙂 Thx, GAP

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