How hard should a company make it to say “thank you”?

My voicemail was down, and I called Verizon’s 611 line for technical support. I explained to the tech rep, whom I’ll call Hailey, that sometimes my voicemail was picking up and sometimes it wasn’t. I only knew it wasn’t because I called someone from whom I’d been expecting a call, and was told, between barks and hisses, that there had been three (for some reason, she trilled the “r” quite dramatically for someone from Boise) attempts to call, and my phone rang and rang and there was no answer. According to my phone and online call record, I had no missed calls.

Hailey immediately identified and fixed the problem: some settings had somehow been reset incorrectly and she reset them correctly. She did a test run from another line and it worked. She promised to call me the following morning, just to make sure the fix held up. She did and it did. She had been very pleasant and very quick to identify and remedy the problem—and all this in standard American English!

I spent 20 futile minutes searching Verizon’s website for a way to commend an exceptionally (in my 15 years of cell phone experience) competent and pleasant customer service representative. But alack, Verizon is not Starbucks: its site is not rife with opportunities to share your experience. In fact, there is no way at all to commend an employee online.

I called 611 again, and asked the rep who answered this time, whether it was possible to express my appreciation to Hailey and her supervisor. The only way to do this was to dictate an email to the nice rep now on the phone, and he would send it. He and Hailey are located in different regions. I’m more facile with writing than with dictating, but we accomplished the goal. I would have liked to commend the resourceful amanuensis, but I knew this could easily wind up in an endless thank-you loop.

It was worth the 14 minutes and 28 seconds it took to send the email, because it put Verizon on notice that some of their customers have the thank-you mutation, and we just like to let people know that we don’t take their courtesy, problem identification, troubleshooting, and next-day follow-up to ensure that all remains well–and all of this in standard American English–for granted.

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