DNA Testing Firms' Customer Service Reps Offer Emotional Support for Surprise Results
DNA testing companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe market their tests as a fun way to learn more about your family and genetic ancestry, but people can sometimes get shocking surprise results, and Bloomberg says that's when the companies' customer service representatives end up providing what amounts to emotional support. It happens when people find out truths about their family that they were never told, things like their father isn't biologically related to them, or their sibling had a different mother, or they have a sibling they never knew existed.
In those situations, they often call customer service to see if some mistake was made, and as the reps explain the science to them, they often provide support as well to stunned customers.
Kent Hillyer, head of customer care for 23andMe, told Bloomberg, "We don't really play the role of therapist, but rather listen and try to be sympathetic and empathetic, getting them to process things." In fact, it happens often enough that the company's training program for customer service reps includes preparation for how to handle those type of calls.
Hillyer said the most common issue they get is that someone's presumed father turns out not to be their genetic parent, but there are surprise discoveries about mothers and siblings too.