This S*** Just Got Real

, , | Right | September 11, 2017

Me: “Hi, thanks for calling [Company]. My name is [Name]. How can I help you today?”

Caller: “D*** automated systems, I’m tired of talking to computers.”

Me: “Hi, yeah, I’m not a computer. My name is [Name]. How can I help you?”

Caller: “D*** it, they’re giving the computers names now.” *grumble grumble* “I wish I could speak to a real person.” *click*

Me: *sighs* “But… I am a real person…”

Best To Letter Know

, , , | Right | September 11, 2017

Caller: “WHY YOU PEOPLE SEND ME LETTER?”

Me: “…is this about your rebate? Would you like me to look up the status for you?”

Caller: “YOU PEOPLE SEND ME LETTER! ONCE AND AGAIN, AND NOW TODAY! WHY?!”

Me: “Your rebate is approved, ma’am. The letter is to let you know your cheque will be issued in four to eight weeks.”

Caller: “NO MORE LETTERS! YOU STOP! I WILL CALL LAWYERS!”

Me: “Ma’am, ma’am, you are approved—”

Caller: “NO MORE LETTERS!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m not sure you are hearing me. You will be getting a cheque in the mail soon.”

Caller: “NO LETTERS! YOU STOP!” *click*

Out Of State, Out Of Mind

, , , | Right | September 7, 2017

Me: “Good morning, my name is [My Name]. Can I start with your account number please?”

Client: *gives me his account number*

Me: “And what state do you reside in?”

Client: “Well, right now I reside in a state of confusion.”

Me: “I meant what US state do you reside in, sir?”

Client: “Oh! Well, why didn’t you say that?”

Drop Bad Management Or Drop Calls

, , , , | Working | September 7, 2017

I work in a call centre that runs two main services, and our clients pay us to take calls from their customers on their behalf. Service A is very generic, used by most of our clients, and everyone is trained on it by default. Service B is more specialised, and each client has it tailored to their individual business needs, so any agents dealing with service B need in-depth training for the individual client before taking calls for them.

Usually all but two colleagues leave at 6 pm, then the last people leave at 8 pm when the call centre closes. On this Monday afternoon, however, and for the whole week, everyone else was scheduled to leave by 5:30, leaving one colleague dealing with two busy channels, by herself, for two and a half hours. Around mid-afternoon, she started feeling a bit unwell, took some over-the-counter drugs, and hoped for the best. Towards five, she was feeling very unwell, and asked if anyone else would be willing to cover her shift, but as they would be effectively doing 11.5 to 12 hours in a day, no one was willing. She let a manager know, but they, too, were unable to find anyone who could cover the evening shift, and she was told she would just have to deal with it.

By 6:15, she was shaking and holding her head in pain. She put a customer on hold and started crying as she stared at the screen, trembling like crazy, so we decided to call a team leader over, as we weren’t sure if she was able to do so herself. We couldn’t hear much of what she said to the team leader, as we were a bit far away and she was struggling to get words out, but we gathered that her head felt like it was on fire, and she could no longer read what was on the screen. The TL started to panic, as our colleague clearly wasn’t able to continue, all the other service B lines had closed before 6 pm, and there wasn’t anyone else in the call centre who was trained for it. Since this line was for our biggest client, we could not just close it. In the end, the TL found someone who had about half a day’s training on service B for this client, instead of the usual two-week training required, (and no training whatsoever for the other clients our colleague was covering). They were asked to do as much as they could, and arrange callbacks for the rest of the team the next day. Our ill coworker went home and did not return until Wednesday.

Despite this situation, and the importance of this client, when the new rota was released later that week, management refused to go back to the old system of having two people present until 7, and kept arranging for everyone, save one, to leave by 5:30, or 6 pm about twice a week. They also refused to “waste resources” training up late-night back-ups because of the greater call volumes for service A. This pattern continued for another six weeks, with one more person getting ill on the day they were due to do a late shift, and another person quitting because of it. After six weeks, the big client decided to terminate the service B contract with us, due to the number of complaints they had regarding excessive wait times and being an inability to get through to anyone after 6 pm. Most of the team lost their jobs, but the manager responsible for setting rotas and monitoring incoming call wait times and dropped calls did not.

Maintain This Holding Position

, , , , | Working | September 3, 2017

(I used to work in a call center, and I know that one tactic the lower-quality employees use is to put upset customers on an extended hold until they hang up, rather than allow it to go to their supervisors. I am at the end of a call that, while I have finally managed to get my original issue resolved, has created a secondary issue that requires me to speak to a supervisor. After I tell the customer service representative on the line that I want to speak to a supervisor, he puts me on hold for five minutes.)

Customer Service Rep: “Unfortunately, all of my supervisors are busy, and I don’t know when they will get around to helping you. And seeing as I did resolve your issue today…”

Me: “I used to work in a call center, and I understand a bit about how they work. Do they track your metrics?”

Customer Service Rep: “Excuse me?”

Me: “Your metrics… Do they track how long you are on calls with customers, and how long you have them on hold?”

Customer Service Rep: “Yes, ma’am…”

Me: “Okay, so, go ahead and put me on hold until you can get me a supervisor.”

Customer Service Rep: “All of my supervisors are busy at the moment, and I don’t know when one will be available, and since I did resolve your concern…”

Me: “Don’t worry about how long the wait will inconvenience me; I have all night…”

(I was put on hold for maybe a minute before I had a supervisor.)

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