How Governor Youngkin Can Become the Most Popular Governor in History

Memo

To: Governor Glenn Youngkin

From: Dick Hall-Sizemore

Here is a sure fire way to become the most popular Governor of Virginia in history. It is two-pronged:

  1. Order all state agencies to eliminate the use of automated phone trees. The citizens of Virginia deserve to be able to talk to a real person when they have a question or need assistance;
  2. Ensure that all agencies have sufficient funding to hire enough people to answer the phones and assist people who call within a reasonable time.

I just tried to call a state agency for an answer to a simple question. I first had to negotiate a phone tree to get a central operator. That person referred me to a division within that agency. Upon calling that division, I had to listen for a minute or so while the automated voice tried to persuade me to deal with the agency on-line. I was then told by that automated voice to stay on the line if none of the on-line options were good for me.  hen another automated voice assured me that my call was very important, but all their agents were busy and I needed to stay on the phone line. The voice said the wait would be about 25 minutes.

25 minutes!!! How is that possible in the middle of a Thursday afternoon in early June?

By the way, it was not DMV or the Virginia Employment Commission.


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Comments

40 responses to “How Governor Youngkin Can Become the Most Popular Governor in History”

  1. My wife just went through this robo-hell with THE PHONE COMPANY.

    I envision someday getting, after 14 steps, to this message: “We’re sorry, but there are no people at this number”. Someday soon?

  2. TOTALLY AGREE…….and we’d change the rules and reelect him

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      For life.

  3. vicnicholls Avatar
    vicnicholls

    You all don’t want to raise taxes to pay anyone. Do you not think that in a # of areas, the state doesn’t have the workers it needs? I know VB and Chesapeake workers won’t accept $12 or $13 an hour when they can make $15 elsewhere.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      It is OK with me to just keep the taxes where they are and use that extra revenue to hire more people to provide service to taxpayers. (By the way, I am a retired state employee and I am not blaming the employees.)

      1. vicnicholls Avatar
        vicnicholls

        Really? So you won’t get services. People were leaving because they could make $2-3 an hour more elsewhere.

    2. WayneS Avatar

      Locate call centers in economically challenged areas?

      1. vicnicholls Avatar
        vicnicholls

        So you won’t get any one to work for that wage. They can work at Wawa for $15.

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    #0, or sometimes *0. On some occasions, you just say, “agent”.

    But here’s the baaaad news. If you do get a live agent, they’re just using the same on-line system available to you. Likely that if you failed online then they will too. The difference being you won’t see it.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I often do that with private businesses and usually get results.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        By results, you mean a person? Not satisfaction?
        ‘Cause I can’t get no…

        It could be worse. Most companies have gone to online chat. It’s exactly what you think. It has all of the satisfaction of the phone auto-tree with miscommunication with a live agent.

        Say, maybe that’s why it took 25 minutes… all agents were online chatting!

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    #0, or sometimes *0. On some occasions, you just say, “agent”.

    But here’s the baaaad news. If you do get a live agent, they’re just using the same on-line system available to you. Likely that if you failed online then they will too. The difference being you won’t see it.

  6. Haha! My detestation of Phone Tree Hell is surpassed only by my loathing of Password Hell. I literally can feel my blood pressure rising as I find myself in endless Phone Tree loops and dead ends. By the time I connect with a real person (in those cases when I do), I am usually so irritable that I’m sure I’m very unpleasant to deal with!

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      You think THAT’S the reason…

      1. WayneS Avatar

        Well played, sir.

  7. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Amen Mr. Dick! Here is a little something to help you get thru the next time. 10 hours of pleasant elevator music. Much better than phone tree music. 5.3 million people have listened to this so it must be good.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5PvBzDlZGs

  8. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    There’s no powerful constituency for good customer
    service across state agencies.

    When I was in state government, I started the Virginia Business Information Center to serve callers. I made it my business to understand how all agencies operated.

    The phone was answered and citizens could also email or live chat. It was popular with callers and volume grew. But it wasn’t a budget line item and many regarded answering questions as too much like work.

    I don’t know if it still exists. Nobody seemed to care if 100+ citizens every day got the answers they needed, but if somebody called the Governor about a simple thing, it was all hands on deck to end up finally getting the answer from the Information Center.

  9. John Harvie Avatar
    John Harvie

    Two bucks extra tax per capita would yield somewhere around $25M which might get the ball rolling.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Make it $3. You do realize you’re in for a keyboard lashing from Haner. A tax… what are you? Nuts?

    2. LarrytheG Avatar
      LarrytheG

      premium response service. pay extra for it. why tax everyone, tax the guy who wants the service!

  10. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    In fairness, I have to report that, after I e-mailed the executive director of the agency in question, complaining along the lines in my post, she immediately responded with a phone call. Even more impressive, she was out of town at a conference. She apologized for the trouble I was having. She did not know the answer to my question, but said she would forward my e-mail to someone who could help. She also sent me that person’s e-mail address. This agency serves a large, statewide constituency and this happens to be a particularly busy time of year for it.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar
      LarrytheG

      there’s a feeling on the part of those who want “service’ that state employees are just sitting around waiting for break time whereas on the other end, state workers are like hamsters trying to get work done and there are these pesky folks asking inane questions and putting the workers further and further behind.

      which is the truth?

      And Younkin…. I’m pretty sure he’s thinking LEAN for how many employees the state SHOULD have – probably very much like his private sector venture capital culture.

    2. vicnicholls Avatar
      vicnicholls

      “particularly busy time of year” No kidding, its end of fiscal year.

  11. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
    f/k/a_tmtfairfax

    Whatever the State does in this area, they are much better than Verizon’s so-called customer service. FIOS was great and VZ Wireless pretty good, but don’t ever have a service problem and expect to get help quickly.

    We are using Spectrum for Internet here. Not the fastest in the land but they do respond and fix problems. And if you are an Internet customer, you can get unlimited wireless service (on Verizon’s network) from Spectrum for $29.99 a month with no added fees or taxes. BTW, VZ says it doesn’t price match.

    I got my permanent NC drivers license within a week. And the state has contractors that process license plates in a separate office from the DMV’s drivers license office. DL took about an hour start to finish, including a written test. License plates took only about 15 minutes plus.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yeah, I’ve had plenty of lousy experiences with Verizon. Used to go immediately to their lobbying staff and harass them to get resolution, threatening to exact revenge in committee.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Comcast has been better.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yeah, I’ve had plenty of lousy experiences with Verizon. Used to go immediately to their lobbying staff and harass them to get resolution, threatening to exact revenge in committee.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Comcast has been better.

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      My landline number was “compromised” according to Experian and the calls became outrageous. All scams aimed at getting SSN or Medicare #. God, I feel sorry for the old and VULNERABLE. I’m just old, you see.

      I tried on at least 3 occasions to just cancel my land line service. You cannot do it online. Oh, there are links to cancel, but they all led to “upgrade services” pages. Trying to do it over the phone started with 15 to 30-minute waits that led to handoff to handoff all ending in an “accidental” disconnect.

      Finally, I got the call I waited 2 years to get… “We’re calling to schedule your house for FIOS.” I told them “Nope. If I can’t have my twisted pair then cancel my service.” The guy said, “Please hold for my supervisor.” A woman came on and began threatening me with immediate disconnect. I said, “Please. Right now.”

      A month later I received a really nasty letter from a “VP” threatening disconnection on February 16, two months from the letter date if I continued to refuse FIOS. On March 10th I received a prepaid MasterCard with $16.36 which took going online to some bank and opening an online account to transfer the balance to my bank.

      EFF ‘EM! Eff ’em all!

      1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
        Kathleen Smith

        And now your bank account might be compromised,

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Nah. It was just the phone number and my name, the same as any phonebook. The other data Experian has discovered associated are wrong.

  12. Virginian78 Avatar
    Virginian78

    I was at a lunch with Nikki Haley a few years ago when she was still governor of South Carolina and she said one of her first acts as governor was to require every agency to have a human answer every phone call and to say, “Good morning/afternoon, it is a beautiful day in South Carolina, how may I help you”?
    That is public service!

  13. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Uh, nobody is in the offices, Dick. Setting up the kind of phone response you demand (and indeed should expect) gets interesting when people might be at home, or driving, sitting by the pool, or sitting in Top Gun Maverick, and still claim to be on the state clock….

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      The system already exists. Call centers don’t actually have to exist in a brick and mortar fashion. If you have a phone and a laptop, you needn’t leave the kitchen to be a call center agent.

      If they’re answering your questions they ARE on the clock, even poolside with a pina colada.

    2. VaPragamtist Avatar
      VaPragamtist

      “people might be at home, or driving, sitting by the pool, or sitting in Top Gun Maverick, and still claim to be on the state clock….”

      Interesting. So is this what the fear behind allowing telework to continue is primarily based on? The belief that people are having fun instead of working?

      If so, there’s ways to mitigate issues: monitor computer usage. Perform random checks by supervisors. Set productivity goals and evaluate weekly. Hold the employee accountable. The last 2 should be done in any work setting already regardless.

      Give employees flexibility, but hold them accountable. It’s not difficult.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        yes! – it’s really a boss problem not a worker problem!

        I would think that of all the jobs that COULD be done remotely – well – it would be call center jobs – where in the modern internet-linked world – all the worker needs is a good internet connection to be able to “work”.

        I did taxes for a lady that sells insurance for a well-known company with a major call center in Fredericksburg and found in the course of the conversation, that she had not been physically at work in months but judging from her income, based on commissions , did quite well. Her bosses could care less where she was physically as long as she continued to produce.

        But this could be done with ANY call center – just measure the number of phone calls, duration of call, actions taken, etc.

  14. Chris Braunlich Avatar
    Chris Braunlich

    They all learned from the best:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEwlg8Is8lY

  15. LarrytheG Avatar
    LarrytheG

    Well, i had a good experience getting in touch with a human who quickly and succinctly informed me that yes, I had to hire an engineering company to verify the distance from my planned deck to a creek per their regulations.

    ugh…

    1. WayneS Avatar

      Back when these guys were just “Ross-France” they used to do good civil engineering/surveying work at a decent price in the PW County area.

      Last year they were “acquired” by a larger firm so I don’t know if their pricing is still as good, but they might be worth a try.

      https://www.christopherconsultants.com/2021/06/welcome-ross-france/

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      That is up to Chesterfield voters.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Same place as the shootout? Well then…

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