Thursday, August 12, 2010

No Wonder Everyone's Happy

I've only had to call a customer service line in New Zealand once and it was for a bank account I had recently set up.  It went surprisingly well and I was calling long after business hours for help with the website.  You can imagine my amazement when a REAL person answered the phone. This occurred at the beginning of my visit here.  I wrote it off as a freak accident. Apparently, that's not the case...

I was recently assigned the task of finding out more about getting a toll free number in New Zealand. This is an odd task to write about on my blog but bear with me because this simple request lead me to realize just how much of an alternate universe I must have stepped into.

Now, as a side note, the phone numbers here vary based on toll free numbers, local and cell. Most calls only require 9 to 10 digits but others (like cell phones) have more.  This particular call was a four digit number that promised to connect me to the NZ Telecom customer service line.  I had my doubts.  Dreading the call to a telecom company (notoriously bad in the States and a call that I have had much experience making), I sucked in my breath, bit my tongue and dialed the number.  Amazed when a real person answered (one that spoke English no less), I sat in stunned silence momentarily waiting for the beep or tones requesting an action on my part. 

On the other end of the line, the operator finally got my attention.  "Hello?"  I explained what I was trying to do and she politely said I would be transferred.  Ok, I thought, here we go - let the musical chairs begin.  But I was shocked yet again when the expected cheesy elevator music or advertising pitches didn't come, instead, another person answered!  I was a bit quicker this time and again explained my questions.  I was asked for our company's current 0800 number in order to look up our account.  I waited patiently anticipating the next questions about authority and passcodes and rights to my first born child, etc....none came.  In fact, I wasn't even privy to the background conversations of other callers in the call center.  Where was this place?

The entire call lasted 5 minutes.  I got all of the information I needed, including our current plan, who runs it in our company, what the process is for setting up a new number, and all the other details I didn't even think to ask.  I was so shocked that I asked the person on the other end where he was located..."Dunedin," he said.  Wait...what?!  That's in New Zealand!  "You aren't located on some small island off the coast of Asia?"  I was so thankful for all of his help he probably thought I was just another overly excited American.  But let me tell you - you would have been too!  There are a few American companies that could take a lesson from the customer service here...they actually treat customers!

Things to be thankful for:
- Small delights that keep my day going
- Patient family and friends that deal with my ever-evolving plans and directions
- Five successful months on the other side of the world!
- Spring is finally on its way in


  1. I think you must have dreaming this whole episode...were there also little raccoons in tuxes singing a capella? Because I've had that one before. It's a common recurring dream, like speaking in front of crowds naked. It helps if you stop eating garlic before bed.

  2. No masked rodents involved, it definitely happened. Although I think I might like to see them singing. Would they take requests? Maybe I should eat more garlic before bed...