Will Wilson is a former GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
And the reaction of the caller? She just read -- monotone -- the script for the "No"s. Not a question about what had gone wrong with the phone, or which phone it was, or if I'd renew if they sent me a new phone at a discount.
The problem, of course, was that this renewal call was from the renewals department call center, someone (perhaps outsourced) who was only paid to get a yes or no answer and who, I'm guessing, didn't even have a protocol to follow if the answer was in the Maybe or Other pile.
What does this have to do with state and local government? Plenty.
Just last month, a local agency (which shall go nameless) couldn't redirect my call and hung up on me three times after telling me that no one was in charge. The truth of the matter was that the agency was temporarily without a director, but for the person on the other end of the line, that settled my question. I had asked for the director, they didn't have one, end of story. My real question -- what I would have asked the director or anyone in charge -- didn't really matter. The operator's call job was to direct calls and this call didn't have a direction, at least not one that the operator could route.
That was the management problem -- no one had explained the agency's purpose or structure to the operator. Nor had anyone familiarized the operator with other related agencies. It turned out that my query actually pertained to another department. But it took several more calls to figure that out.
And it will take hours on hold to get my phone fixed. At least I can opt out of that contract.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.