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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.

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