Be More Human

by | Nov 30, 2022 | Change, ICT4D |

be more human

It wasn’t his fault, he was following the script he was given. I was trying to cancel my mobile broadband account. His script told him to tell me to go to a store. It didn’t tell him what to do when I said ‘no’. That’s when things when downhill. 45 minutes later I was still on the line now with his manager. While she had come up with one alternative that also wasn’t possible, she was desperately trying to get me to end the chat. I didn’t. Eventually the chat ended when she offered for someone from HQ to call me within 72 hours.

Over 4 days later (aka longer than 72 hours) someone from HQ did call me. That didn’t go well either as he started with asking me for some security details. However, he could have been anyone and he hadn’t proved to me who he was. To his credit, when I pointed this out, he recognise the issue and came up with a plan to overcome it. He also asked a few questions to undertand the earlier problem.

With the first agent, I was told to go to a store. I was never asked if I could actually get to a store. Perhaps I live with a disability or without a car preventing me from getting to a store. I was able to open the account without going to a store, so closing it should be the same. I did also clear security with this first agent.

With the second agent, the manager, I was told they needed to send me a PIN to the SIM card in my router. I reminded her it was a router not a phone as this was home mobile broadband. She told me to put it in a phone. Again assuming this was all possible and that I had a phone to put it in. Then she told me to go to a store. Not once did she or the first agent ever tell me what to bring to the store. Apparently this wasn’t in the script. When I asked why I needed to go to the store, it was for validation. To validate who I was. Aka to confirm my identity. When I pointed out, I had passed security earlier, she didn’t believe me.

This went on for a long time. And I was annoyed and frustrated. So were they. However, I kept on thinking that this is the problem with scripts and disempowered staff. I also wondered how often (likely daily) do people in need of assistance who interact with humanitarian agencies feel like I did. How often do our frontline staff feel disempowered because they are caught between the organisation’s script or policies and the need in front of them.

Do your organisational procedures make sense for the person seeking assistance or do they only work for the organisation? Do you hide behind the fine print of your T&Cs, which you know no one reads, or do you focus on being human? How can you be more human this week with the people who exist to support?

Photo by Christian Erfurt


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