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Do Not Copy: Please Repeat

, , , , | Working | June 6, 2022

I’m working on repairing a large digital printer for an office when the power goes out one afternoon in a thunderstorm. I have gutted the thing and have parts spread out all over the floor. The lights are off, all computers are down, and this office worker walks up to me:

Worker: “I need you to make me a couple of copies.”

Me: “…um.”

Check Out A Book On Listening While You’re There

, , , , | Right | June 1, 2022

At our university library, we have subscription memberships so people who aren’t staff or students can use the library. During lockdown, we aren’t allowed to let these subscription members in. I answer a call.

Me: “[University] library, [My Name] speaking.”

Caller: *Not listening* “Hi. Can I come in to print my vaccine pass?”

Me: “Are you a student or staff member at [University]? Due to the alert level, you have to swipe your [University] card to come in.”

Caller: “Well, I’m a library member.”

I think she means a subscription member.

Me: “I’m sorry, subscription members can’t use the [University] library at the moment, but—”

Caller: *Instantly outraged* “Oh! Oh! So, they were lying on the radio yesterday when they said we could come into the library to print our vaccine passes? Why would they say that?!”

I realise she hasn’t listened to what I said.

Me: “Ah, you can go to the public library and they will print it for you.”

Caller: “Oh. Who are you, then?”

Me: “This is the [University] library.”

I believe I could hear her deflating as she meekly asked me to look up the correct number. Apparently, she didn’t hear me say the name of the university four times.

Too Bad They Weren’t Looking For A Web Designer

, , | Working | April 29, 2022

When I was between jobs, I had to go on to the New Zealand Job Seeker benefit for a while. One of the rules for being on it is a requirement to apply to ten jobs a week, which can sometimes be awful when no one you would want to be employed by is hiring.

During this time, all the places I applied for I sincerely would work for. Anything was better than just sitting there uselessly. I ended that hunt with over 120 applications out, and replies, even automated replies, for less than ten.

In reading a recent story about a wealth of unqualified and uninterested applicants, I was reminded of a job where I think I was too good and interested for the position, though I am still unclear what that job was.

One of the interview tips we had to hear again and again in the required “how to find a job” seminars was that you should research your potential employer so you could ask good questions about the job and the work culture you’d be getting into.

SO! This odd job — I think it was either selling newspapers or finding stories or selling ad space for them — had a website for the company. I looked it up, looked over the five archaic Internet pages to glean what I could, and noticed something very odd. On the main page and on the “Contact Us” page in the body text, there was one number, but on every other page INCLUDING on the “contact us” page in the header, there was another number. It was relatively close but different enough for me to notice. I even called it and found out that it was a number in the same building but a completely different business. It also, oddly (and in hindsight, raising a red flag), sat with its desk and secretary in a position where the secretary from the company I was applying for sometimes would answer the phone for them. I know this because I belatedly recognised the voice after the call as the one who’d set up my interview.

I went into the interview with my examples for the job and some screenshots of the incorrect number. When I was asked if I had any other questions, I raised this. This got a slightly innocent look and nods and mentions that “it’d be looked into.”

I never heard back from them again, not even to say they had gone with another candidate.

I checked the website about three months after starting my new job. It was the same. I also sent them a message to the website directly. It never changed.

So weird.

The Good Kind Of Technological Advancement

, , , , | Right | April 25, 2022

Me: “Hi, this is [My Name], and you’ve gotten through to the tech support team. How can I help today?”

Customer: “I hope you can. You see… my phone, it’s stopped ringing. I don’t know what’s happened.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll do my best to help you get it going again. Now, we’ll start with the easy stuff and go down the list, okay?”

Customer: “Oh, I hope it’s not something stupid…”

Me: *Encouraging* “Let’s test first to make sure the phone is making sounds at all. Let’s open the settings and run the ringer test.

The phone fails this test.

Me: “It’s okay, that tells me that we should be able to use that to test if any of our changes work! The first thing I’d like you to check is for a switch on the side. Do you see a switch on any of the edges?”

Customer: *Quiet for a moment* “Yes, I do, it’s just above the volume buttons.”

Me: “That’d be it! Is it showing any orange, or the same colour as the rest of your phone?”

Customer: “It’s showing orange.”

Me: “That’s a good sign. Okay, if you switch it, does it hide the orange?”

Customer: “Yes!”

Me: “Perfect. I’d love for you to test the ringer now through the settings like we did a moment ago.”

I hear the ringer as she does this, and the customer practically bursts into tears.

Customer: “Oh, no, it was so simple! You must think I’m an absolute idiot!”

Me: “No! No, you’re not an idiot! There are tons of buttons and switches on everything. You didn’t know what that one did, and now you do! I know that’s why I’m here! I’m glad I was able to find the ‘fix’ so quickly! So, this switch the silent mode for your phone. Now that you know it, you should be able to see a little icon on the screen. Go ahead! Try it with me now!”

The customer settles some and starts getting the giggles as she deliberately turns the silencer on and off.

Customer: “Oh, yes, I think I see it now.”

Me: *Practically beaming as I hear that tone* “That’s it! Now you’ll know if you’ve ever done it on purpose, and you know where that switch is for next time. For now, though, can I help with anything else?”

Customer: “No. That was perfect, thank you.”

I had a stupid smile on my day for the rest of the shift. I live for calls like that. I don’t care if you’re asking me where the power button is; I like making people feel in control of their tech!

You Helped Me Once And Now I Own You

, , , | Right | April 25, 2022

I love my job, I really do, but it’s always hard when you get above a certain level of “how did it get this far”. I’m a senior advisor, meaning that, in certain cases, I have additional steps I’m authorised to take and different setups I can enable, and I can sometimes make tickets for the engineering team. For those kinds of cases, I will have to “take over” the case and put a senior flag on it so it stays with us. It’s rare a call gets put through to me for mundane things.

I had a call months back that had multiple things that happened, but one section of it required a follow-up because I needed to check that I had all the right details with another group that didn’t work on weekends. So, for that part alone, I put a senior stamp on it, arranged a callback, and went about my business.

Once the other team was back in, I quickly found out that the information I had provided, a mix of stated documentation and a little common sense, was absolutely correct, so when the call back to the customer failed, I sent a message to say that I had tried to call and got no answer but the information I’d provided was correct so she could use that at her leisure.

A few days after that, I got a message demanding I call the customer urgently. I tried but got nothing but voicemail again. After the second time it happened with the same result, no more messages came in. I forgot about it, thinking she had followed my advice about calling in herself or had accepted what I’d told her.

Two months later, out of the blue, a new email showed up.

Customer: “Call me. Urgent.”

If you’ve ever worked in an inbound call centre, you will know that there is no such thing as “quiet time”. These emails came in right in the middle of other calls, with no way to drop everything to call right away anyhow. Since it had been such a long time, the matter we’d dealt with had been considered closed, so I sent back a message.

Me: “If this is about the same matter, click here. If this is a new matter, click here.”

I gave no other response, just a tester into the water to see if she would act on that information.

Nope, the week after, another email:

Customer: “Call me! Urgent!”

I sent the same response.

The third week:

Customer: “I can’t seem to get through to you. You need to call me back; it’s urgent!”

I send a little more blunt email.

Me: “Is this about the same issue or a new one?”

I got a prompt reply that it’s about the same issue.

I made a time to call, and I finally got the customer back on the phone. I started by laying out the facts from last time, reiterating the information I’d given. She interrupted.

Customer: “That’s not what I want to talk about!”

I found the new issue. It had some relation, so I informed her that I would try and answer those questions since they had bearing on our previous conversation, but that she really should have put these questions to the person who set up the new issue. I was able to answer most of them, though one was a “we have to wait and see because it needs to be examined” answer that, as a phone-based supporter, I literally would not be able to tell.

Then, the customer asked that I pick up a case and follow through with setting up a repair for something. Not now, of course; she wanted to do this in a few weeks. She honestly expected me to sit back and play this game with her again.

I had to stare at the phone for a few moments before trying to explain that, while I had made this case to help her on the last call nearly three months ago now, it wasn’t a senior case. I was not going to wait for her to be ready and follow her demands to call her back whenever she wanted. She spent five minutes trying to demand that it was my problem because I made a case number for it, and I countered with the fact that I was a senior and I only called back for cases that required senior attention, like the case I had been attempting to follow up on that she assured me was still the issue. I was there to take calls, not make them!

I absolutely swear that customer was convinced that I was now their personal IT support for every question they had. They started asking about new devices and new issues, and in response to each one, I would go, “You need to call back for that.” She’d say, “But I’m on the phone with you now!” Yes, because you lied.

Eventually, I was able to disconnect and thankfully, I had a break. I realised I had just spent fifty minutes on what would have been five minutes at the time of setup.

Next time, I’ll ask what specifically is happening with the original problem in the email… just to see if she even remembers why I took that side of the call in the first place. I sadly do suspect there is going to be a next time.