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Old 02-26-2005, 08:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
Tilted
 
Location: Chapel Thrill
Call Center Blues.

Alright. Iím one of the billions of call center reps out there, that sit tied to a phone for 8-12 hours a day, providing you with cellphone/techsupport/payroll/benefits/ordering help Ė you name it, thereís a call center for it. Mine happens to provide payroll and hr assistance to a large corporation with some smart, and VERY high paid individuals. After the fifth day of hell (ie, tax season) Iíve decided, there must be some rules in place for you, the consumer, calling in to me, the CSR.

1. The sighing has got to stop. Yes, I know youíre in a hurry, and you feel like Iím just too incompetent to do my job, but Ė do realize, the entirety of the information you are requesting from me is sitting in multiple databases, that rely on Win2K to pull up. It could take a couple of minutes.

2. Please donít eat while youíre on the phone bitching me out. I know you have no respect for me, and what I do, but I can only adjust the volume so much Ė and you chompin on the potato chip while youíre bitching about Uncle Samís dues being 2 cents higher this year than last year, itís not conducive to me giving you the best service possible. Put the bag down, you wonít waste away. Or Ė please stick to soft foods. . . . or, how about just apologizing for chewing in my ear?

3. When I say Ė ďIs there anything else I can assist you with today?Ē Ė this means itís the end of the call. If you have further requests, great Ė let me know, and Iíll be happy to help. Donít use this question as an invitation to insult me, please. Most call centers require this question at the end of every call. I know youíre frustrated, and you feel like youíve not been assisted in the way you want Ė but if you ask for something, and I say Iíll put in that request, AND make a followup call to let you know that this request has been fulfilled and shipped . . . Iíd say I WAS assisting you to the fullest extent of my abilities. When you have the nerve to say ďWell, you havenít assisted me this farĒ, now thatís just a low blow. Everyone has their limitations. Getting it to you yesterday just isnít gonna happen.

4. Does it hurt to be nice? I understand if itís physically painful for you to put on a smile when you call me, but Iím forced to do so. Iím a human too. I have bad days, coffee thatís too weak, a rampant flu bug knocking out my co-workers left and right, a bad case of the cramps, my paycheck screwed up or missing, landlord knocking on my door. Iím sympathetic to all of your plights . . . .even in the midst of all of my crap. Thereís an old saying that goes: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Itís true. Be nice to me Ė Iíll go out of my way to provide you with the best customer service possible. Be mean to me Ė Iíll do just enough so my quality score doesnít dip, and my call handle time doesnít fluctuate. Iím amazed that people call in, and still believe that in order to get anything done, they have to be gruff, mean, and rude. Not so, my friends, not so.

5. Last one for now Ė if youíre not getting what you want from me, donít always assume that if you ask for my supervisor, theyíll be able to give it to you. I know in some call centers this one works. Supervisors do have more leeway to get things done . . . but not always. So, in short, you can ask for one, but itís not always going to get you anywhere. Sorry.

6. Oh, and if your call center experience was good Ė made you happy, got your stuff done, and you have the time, thatís a good time to ask for a supervisor. Trust me. I make it a rule to always ask for a supervisor if the CSR has been helpful. Positive escalations go a long way towards making a CSRís day.

That being said Ė sorry for the rant Ė itís just been a long week. Iím off to call the cell phone company, and see if can get my phone upgrade. Let me just grab my Tostitos . . . . . . .
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Old 02-26-2005, 02:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have done that kind of work so I can empathize. Most people were pretty nice, but some were down right nasty. As long as they didn't make it personal I didn't have any heart burn with it. I knew they were just frustrated. We had a great supervisor who didn't take any shit off anyone. So I just laughed when they asked for the supervisor, cuase I knew if they didn't like my answer they sure as hell weren't going to like hers
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Old 02-26-2005, 03:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
Tilted
 
Location: Pennsylvania
Hm, it's always kinda interesting to learn that the people I deal with on a daily basis are...human. I don't want to make it sound ridiculous (or like an excuse), but really, I never really think about who's on the other end of the phone in that sort of conversation, because it seems to be a similar experience with most of them (except those with ridiculously heavy accents).

That's not to say that I don't treat them with respect, but it's always interesting to hear about what goes on in unseen areas. Just try not to take it personally.
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Old 02-26-2005, 03:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
I read your emails.
 
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Location: earth
I use to do tech support for an isp, was terrible experience near the end (burn out) but at the same time it paid very well and helped fund my uni studies. Some peope were just nasty, same kinda thing as thubpt, people eating, yelling throughout the call for no reason. Just that some people think that if you yell you'll get better service, and its just the opposite. When a person is scream because its not working, the csr stops trying to worry about fixing the problem, but how to get the effing jerk off the call. Sure it does not always happen like that but after 4 yrs of doing that job 90% that is what happens. While if your nice and calm you'll probably get your way. Not always but it helps, sure sometimes yelling might get you extra service sometimes, but very rare. Near the end of my career there, i was just as nasty back to those yellers.
I use to say "are ya done yet? if so i can fix it, if not then tell me when your done." that would usually shut them up or hang up. I use to get people calling in who ordered internet service that had not even unpacked there brand new computer they got for xmas and be upset when you tell them they gotta call dell to get help on setting it up.
we sell the car people, you gotta get lesson on how to drive it.
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Old 02-26-2005, 07:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I feel for you. I work in a retail storefront and have to deal with those SOB customers occasionaly, I would like to yell at them "Sign you fucking credit card if you don't want to be asked for ID" and "Write down the bin number like everyone else if you can't stand waiting for a pricecheck" but instead, I get to smile and nod and defer them to my manager.
 
Old 02-26-2005, 08:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
Junkie
 
I worked in a call center for 3 years and before that 4 years in retail sales and I have an empathy for anybody in just about any service job. I always loved the people who simply would not listen or stop talking long enough for me to help them. Or the people who would ramble endlessly before getting to the point. At times you knew you had a couple of folks that wouldn't stop yaking that I would get up go get a drink from the snack room come back and they'd still be talking.

I never really minded the job so much but at the end the burnout set in like I think it does for everybody and I just wanted to snap and go off on some of the people on the other end of the fun. But as long as the people were generally well behaved and there weren't 100 calls in the queue I loved those jobs because you do get a good feeling helping those that really need it and it's not so bad talking to a 5-6 dozen people a day. Learned a lot of stuff in my random conversations with people over the years.
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Old 02-26-2005, 08:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Omaha, NE
I'm another one that used to work in a call center one summer a few years ago, although mine wasn't incoming calls, I had to make outgoing calls. I wasn't a telemarketer, don't hate me yet, I worked for this finance company that handled overdue utility bills for various companies. So, for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I got stuck calling people and telling them they needed to pay their electric bills. Imagine how well people respond to THAT call! It was horrible, just getting yelled at all day long.

I definitely feel for anyone who has to do that type of work, mine was only for a summer, but it couldn't end soon enough, I just needed a job until school started back up. I'd never be able to do that for a career.

It always sucked talking to the people who couldn't afford to pay their bills, that were honestly trying to pay them, but the people who had the money but didn't bother to pay them were great. It was always amusing to see someone with "Dr." in the prefix on my screen, more often than not, they YELLED at me for calling! One memorable response was "It's only overdue $350??? That's nothing, call me when it's over $1000, until then, leave me alone!" I mean, come on, pay your bills!

Anyway, like I said, I definitely feel for any cell center people out there, and everyone on the TFP should cut them some slack next time they have to speak to one methinks.
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Old 02-26-2005, 08:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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One to add: If I give you answer that you don't like, don't play meek and just assume that you can hang up, call back, get someone else to give you the answer you DO want. Cause guess what? You got me again, AND the time before. And I made notes each time you called telling you the exact same information, even though you played dumb. The only person's time you're wasting is your's and your customers. ( I work in a Dealer Support Center)
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Old 02-26-2005, 10:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
Junkie
 
I work in a call center for an automotive extended warranty company. My advice to callers is simple. Have your shit together when you call.Yes I know the salesperson told you it was a bumper to bumper warranty that covers everything, even though the warranty has exclusions and limitations on even the best levels of coverage. Don't take it out on me when you don't save your maintenance records and take your car to a shitty hack shop that doesnt know what they are doing. Read the contract and 100 percent of the time a reasonable, moderately intelligent person will know why their claim was denied.
I'm sorry that I magically don't know everything about your vehicle and its claim history the millisecond you call in for the first time and say "This is Bob Jones here and I want to know why you denied my claim". Guess what, I take over 100 calls a day and there are six other people in my department that do the same thing, I don't frikkin remember every detail of every claim when you just call in and say "bob jones here". It's going to take a minute or two to get all the info.
I'm lucky that at my company 3 minutes is about the worst hold time I have ever seen somebody have to wait on hold before speaking to a live person. I can't imagine working in a call center like some of the ones that I have called where I have been put on hold for 30 minutes before speaking to somebody
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I placed a call into my phone company's call center just the other day.

The lady on the other end of the line told me I was the most laid back caller she's had in a while and told me it was a refreshing change.
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
undead
 
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Location: Duisburg, Germany
I work in a call center doing techsupport (domain hosting) it is very nerving sometimes. What buggers me most are the deliberate stupid people. No problem with those older people who tell me "i have no idea what the internet is, but my son told me we need a domain for our store", those people are fine, theys listen and they believe me. But those people who simple refuse to think are a pain in the ass. We had costumers who wrote back after I've sended them a couple of infos and manuals, that that was too much for them to read! And they asked if we could give them shorter instructions. We have costumers who haven't paid a bill for years and they get angry when we close their domain!

But you have to realise that the people who call you represent only a very small percentage of your costumers, most of them never call. Most of them seem to be able to solve theri problems alone. Keep that in mnd or your will start to think that the whole world has become stupid.
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Old 02-27-2005, 05:19 AM   #12 (permalink)
I read your emails.
 
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Location: earth
Just rememebered one call that seemed to repeat itself daily. When I worked on the business side (ISP)we would have people call in when the net was down, and say they are losing 10,000$ an hour with loss sales or whatever it is. I would offer to get them online via dialup which would allow them to get online in the interm. they would always say "how much will that cost me!", alot less than 10g's......95% of the callers refused. if my business relied on something so important (99% of these people were lying about the amount they were out), i would damn well have a backup!
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Old 02-27-2005, 06:52 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Location: The Great White North
I can certainly empathize with you. I'm not in a call center but have managed a smaller version years ago before call centers became centralized. I do, however, take calls from upset customers when they don't get satisfaction from previous conversations. As a result - and as a customer - I have a few rules for call center people:

1. The customer on the other end of the line has probably had to wait through an obscene number of voice mail prmpts and putting their home for number in the system over and over again. And they're calling in the first place because they need to get something done. Remember how hard they had to work to actually speak with a person.

2. They know you don't run the company and are just following the rules you are given. Unfortunately, you are the first person they have to deal with - when they can actually get through to a person.

3. Listen. To everything. Make sure you can make them feel like you truely do understand their situation.

4. Don't patronize, humiliate or belittle. Use a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t. No matter how much they screwed up, you are the only one that can help. And if they didn't understand something about the contract it was probably the result of over-promising on the part of your company's sales person who was only interested in getting a sale.

5. If they ask for a supervisor, it just may be that they want to get through to someone who may be in a position of authority and they don't want to go off on you if you aren't in a position to help. In many cases they are atually showing you a little respect!

If I call with what I feel is a legitimate complaint and it doesn't fit with your guidelines, I want to go up the management chain. I also write down names. The process doesn't end until I write the last letter - with the details of everything I have done previously to resolve the issue - to the chairman of the company. I've rarely had to go that far before someone in a decision making position used their brains instead of inflexible rules. And on the odd few times that that hasn't worked, I have never sone business with that company again - and I certainly tell everyone my story to everyone I come in contact with.

I think the respect thing is a two way street and I just want to get through tosomeone that can help!
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Old 02-27-2005, 10:11 AM   #14 (permalink)
Tilted
 
Location: Chapel Thrill
Absolutely, Thingstodo - Respect goes along way, on both sides. Don't get me wrong, everyone - I love my job. I love helping people, and I'm damn good at conveying that to people calling in. Nine out of ten times, my calls are seamless, and the people walk away happy. It's just that one ass that can put me in a mood. There's no reason for anyone to treat anyone like crap. Even if that person is a million miles away, on the other end of the phone, with no face, and no way to defend themselves.. . . . .

Oh, and btw - All you tech support people - best line I ever heard working Dialup Tech Support for two years: "My immodium isn't working anymore - fix it." I swear - I always wanted to say "Ma'am . . . . if you're immodium isn't working, I can prolly google your local hospital, you'll want to call them, not Tech support."
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Old 02-27-2005, 11:13 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I have to admit, I do eat while Im on the phone sometimes! I guess it is rude.

What I find frustrating about these call centres (and I appreciate its not the nicest job in the world and I do try to be polite) is very often you wind up speaking to someone who has no idea what they are talking about, and basically dont know their job other than a few things they've been taught parrot fashion. Not all call centre staff are unknowledgable, but from my experience (we have a telesales dept at my company that cold call people) the staff turnover is very high and you do have a lack of expertise... often I ask to speak t a supervisor simply to try and get through to someone I can have an actual conversation with.

The most frustrating thing I found - was when I was trying to move house and move my telephone no. I spent over 3 hours and a dozen calls to BT, was outright lied to, had people hang up on me for no reason (no, I wasnt being abusive, rasing my voice, or anything, just cut off in the middle of a conversation), spent 5 minutes in every call going through automated menu's to speak to a HUMAN, speaking to people who denied any responsibility and passed me to another dept, people who didnt know what they were talking about...

I cant speak for the US, but to be honest in the UK the standard of call centre support is average, and often APPALLING... I have had positive experiences with people who were friendly, knowledgable and helpful, but it is outweighed by negative experiences. And yeah, I know it can be a really crappy job.. and I couldnt do it.

Another thing is a lot of the call centre's in the UK are based in India... and while the people do tend to speak very good English, it can be hard to understand a thick Indian accent, and it is hard for them to understand my broad Suffolk accent too.
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Old 02-27-2005, 11:32 AM   #16 (permalink)
Easy Rider
 
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Location: Moscow on the Ohio
Quote:
Originally Posted by thingstodo
1. The customer on the other end of the line has probably had to wait through an obscene number of voice mail prmpts and putting their home for number in the system over and over again. And they're calling in the first place because they need to get something done. Remember how hard they had to work to actually speak with a person.
Finally getting through the menu systems and talking to a real live person is reason enough IMHO to be cordial. Nothing can be gained by being abusive at this point and you could find yourself back in menu system hell.

Most phone support people I have talked with are really trying to help you but are sometimes constrained with what they are instructed to do. My experience with Dell and Direcway is to follow their (canned trouble shooting formula) even if you know it will not help and hopefully get kicked up to level 2 support where good things begin to happen.

I find it hard to be abusive with people even with cold sales calls during dinner. I realize that they are probably doing a job they do not like and are just trying to make a living. No point in coming down on the worker bees.
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:41 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Location: melbourne australia
i always try to ask them how they are and i hope that they are having a nice day. I know some callers rely on being rude to get their point across but i figure its just as easy being nice and i have never had a problem with the wait as its not the person on the other end that is slack its the company not hiring enough staff oh and always if you need to get back to them to ok a contract try to deal with the person you first talked to after all they did alll the work why should someone else get the commission bonus!
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Old 02-27-2005, 03:47 PM   #18 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: Florida
Quote:
Originally Posted by brian1975
Just rememebered one call that seemed to repeat itself daily. When I worked on the business side (ISP)we would have people call in when the net was down, and say they are losing 10,000$ an hour with loss sales or whatever it is. I would offer to get them online via dialup which would allow them to get online in the interm. they would always say "how much will that cost me!", alot less than 10g's......95% of the callers refused. if my business relied on something so important (99% of these people were lying about the amount they were out), i would damn well have a backup!
I had one of those people call when I was doing dialup tech support. We were down for a couple hours, and he started saying how he was going to sue us because he was losing some ungodly amount of money well into the thousands of dollars since he couldn't run his online business. I said "Wow, you're making that kind of money yet running everything over a dialup connection?" He just muttered something under his breath and dropped the issue.

I'd probably have a much brighter image of humanity right now if I didn't spend most of my teenage years doing ISP tech support.
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Old 02-27-2005, 07:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
Junkie
 
I agree that the phone slave on the end of the phone should be respectful and all but most really are I mean their job depends on it and if they are caught being rude they tend to get in trouble. The problem is though since it's on a phone and so many people that call in are so damn self-righteous that respectful behavior from the customer isn't nearly as common. I mean it says something that the person sitting across from you who you know is a nice calm person gets so frustrated and pissed off that they turn around and start pounding the shit out of their cubicle wall or their desk in frustration with the dillweed that won't listen to them. The customer even if they are frustrated can always call back another day or better yet if they get frustrated they can leave and do something else to calm down. The phone zombie if stuck there for a few dozen more calls where there is a good chance they will get the same treatment again.
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Old 02-28-2005, 03:38 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Location: Australia
The points you make, thubpt, are relevant in call centres everywhere, I believe. I spent seven years in a call centre (for our federal welfare agency)...on phone and off phone supervisory and tech support positions, and the same principles of respect you outline applied to my workplace.

I have, however, escaped to the face to face customer service environment of our organisation, and believe me, I still wish I had that "release" button sometimes when customers are giving me a hard time about not paying them money they're not entitled to!
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:24 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Location: New York, NY
Thank you for this thread, I think it's really helpful and useful.

I try very hard to be extremely nice to those I talk to on the phone - if there's lag time when they're waiting for something to come up on their computer, I'll ask how their day is going, make some small talk...

If they can't help me with what I want, and I'm frustrated about it, I'll let them know I'm frustrated, say "I'm sorry, I'm not upset with you and I know this is not your fault, but could I speak to a supervisor?" I'd have to say that in 95% of instances where I've asked to speak to a supervisor, I've gotten what I wanted. I am not assuming I'll get what I want, but I do know that sometimes supervisors do have more power to get things done, and probably also would like to just get rid of me. I am never rude, and I pride myself on that. Similarly, if someone does an exceptional job, usually I will ask for the name of their manager, and write a letter outlining my positive experience. I know from prior experience that letters like those are what help get people promotions, so I try to do them whenever possible. Conversely, if I have a bad experience,I can write to the same manager. I've done this with my cable company a number of times.

But I am guilty of one of these things you list. I do eat while I'm on the phone, usually because I'm calling during my lunch break. I'm going to try and become more aware of this. Thank you.
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:09 PM   #22 (permalink)
Sauce Puppet
 
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I work in a call center. There's two things that really bother me.

Hearing crunching (chewing food) as soon as the call comes through.

Being put on speakerphone without permission.

With the crunching, I have gotten to the point where I ask people "may you please stop chewing food?" Sometimes, if it has been a long day of non-stop calls with no pause between them I understand I may come across as a jerk right off the bat, but understand I'm trying to wind down, and finish notes on the previous call, because there's a manager on my back telling me to minimize After Call time, and that noise just stops my thought process.

Speakerphone... It's just inconsiderate. I purposefully move my mic away from my mouth if I'm put on speakerphone without permission (ask permission to do so, I'm fine with that). The client then says something about barely being able to hear me, and usually picks the phone back up. I then move the mic back to my mouth, and continue working with the client.

My manager, is simply a mediator, if I'm a good employee, she gives the higher ups a reason to keep me on, and not outsource my position to some other country, and she's there to urge me to keep taking calls when I have three more hours to go, and have told her "you sure I can't just claim I'm sick and go home now?" If you want to talk to her, I'll be more than happy to let you talk to her, but she'll probably tell you exactly what I told you.

If you want to continue calling the Service Desk, do not cuss! I'm fine with joking around cussing, but if you are yelling at me and say (2) cuss words, I have full permission to hit "RELEASE", and to document it, and if you do it again, at my desk at least, we will ban you from being able to call in.
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Location: Moscow on the Ohio
Quote:
Originally Posted by kurty[B]
Speakerphone... It's just inconsiderate. I purposefully move my mic away from my mouth if I'm put on speakerphone without permission (ask permission to do so, I'm fine with that). The client then says something about barely being able to hear me, and usually picks the phone back up. I then move the mic back to my mouth, and continue working with the client.
I don't understand this one. Several times I have wished I had a speaker phone when troubleshooting something on the computer instead of telling the call center that I have to put the phone down to disconnect something etc.. or trying to squeeze the phone between my cheek and shoulder when I type.

Why would a speaker phone bother you? It would never occur to me that it would be something to ask permission for from a support line person.
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:25 PM   #24 (permalink)
Sauce Puppet
 
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because you go from hearing the client extremely well, to barely being able to hear them, to hearing the dog barking, or the child in the background crying, or others in the room talking, or co-workers jabbering. Sometimes following whether the person is relaying information to someone else, or is talking to you can become quite the challenge. I consider it nice to ask to be put on speakerphone. I guess it mentally prepares me for it.
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:43 PM   #25 (permalink)
Easy Rider
 
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Location: Moscow on the Ohio
I see what you mean with lousy connections and such. In my office at work I always asked people if it was OK to put them on the speaker and then ask if they could hear OK. The biggest problem I had was hearing people on cell phones.
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:04 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Location: looking in a mirror
I can feel you on the call center stuff. I just left my phone about 20 minutes ago and I can't seem to drink enough alcohol to get the memory of all those calls out of my head.

I've never worked Customer Service or Tech Support, but I've been a charitable cold-caller before, and I currently work in 3rd party voluntary collections for heavily delinquent second-chance credit cards. The collections is definitely a way better job, but we still deal with the same htings. The people eating doesn't bother me nearly as much as the totally unprepared people that call-in (we're both inbound and outbound, since I work manually, actually dialing my phone instead of using the computer aided dialer) and demand instant answers to questions that they don't even understand.

As for the constant requests for a supervisor, I'm the nice guy. If you insist on being transferred to a senior account rep or supervisor, you're not going to like the result. Unless they're just reading you the confirmation number for your payment you're probably going to encounter someone with a lot less patience and a lot more attitude than you think you got from me.

If nothing else, my call center experience has definitely left me more in tune to the feelings of the people that provide customer service and support to me in my personal life.
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Old 03-01-2005, 09:19 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurty[B]
Speakerphone... It's just inconsiderate. I purposefully move my mic away from my mouth if I'm put on speakerphone without permission (ask permission to do so, I'm fine with that). The client then says something about barely being able to hear me, and usually picks the phone back up. I then move the mic back to my mouth, and continue working with the client.
I had that happen to me three times today where the call came in and they had me on speakerphone from the beginning. Of course I cant hear them any better than they can hear me when they do that so they give up on it pretty quick, but it is still annoying. I always answer the phone thinking I'm having a one on one conversation, not a whole bunch of people on one end having a side conversation with each other while one converses with me while I'm left out.
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Old 03-05-2005, 08:32 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Oh, and one more tidbit, just FYI to those of us who haven't had the call center experience, and I forgot to mention this one: We all know how bad the message system in the beginning sucks. The place I work for, you have to enter two pieces of info, on top of punching numerous options. . . . I've had to navigate it many times, and you never get where you want. We are aware. And there's not a damn thing we can do about it But, here's a hint: To get through virtually any VRS - when the thing starts giving you options to push, try 0, or 0#, or #0 (be creative) It'll at least get you to a person. Then they can transfer you to the right place
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Old 03-05-2005, 08:46 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Ive never worked in a call centre, but the company I work for does have a lot of small business clients who can be quite abusive.... I've been sworn at a few times on the phone (and threatened once or twice) but it never bothered me... I just figure that they are pissed off and ranting about it makes them feel better. But then again, obviously I dont have to take it day in day out.

Ive only ever once swore back at a customer, and that was when I was a financial account and some guy who had a problem with his pricing came through to me for some reason (he had already made one of the telesales girls cry by shouting at her so much)... I just picked up the phone and this guy was yelling abuse at me, I was in the middle of month end journals.... so I just said "what the fuck is your problem..." the guy went quiet, so I slammed the phone down. I got told off for it though... the sales manager said all his staff have to take those calls, so it demoralizes them when they see someone like me just swear back and hang up on a guy.

And as for the people that threaten violence... if you just reply, right, I'll be in the office till 6, what time shall I expect you to be here? they all suddenly have a reason they wont be!

I remember when I used to work in a newsagents, we used to deliver people's papers, and sometimes when I was alone and someone didnt get a paper, I'd have really absuyive calls, and I'd tell them I was the only one in the shop so they'd have to come collect their paper... and the people who were rude and abusive on the phone... they'd always be polite and embarassed if they turned up at the store.
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Old 03-05-2005, 08:54 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thubpt
Oh, and one more tidbit, just FYI to those of us who haven't had the call center experience, and I forgot to mention this one: We all know how bad the message system in the beginning sucks. The place I work for, you have to enter two pieces of info, on top of punching numerous options. . . . I've had to navigate it many times, and you never get where you want. We are aware. And there's not a damn thing we can do about it But, here's a hint: To get through virtually any VRS - when the thing starts giving you options to push, try 0, or 0#, or #0 (be creative) It'll at least get you to a person. Then they can transfer you to the right place

I have to admit... and this isnt a personal dig, but that kind of attitude really annoys me. I hate it when you spned 5 minues to get through to a person, and then they just want to throw you back into the menu system again... and youre like "Ive gone through ten menu's to speak to you.. dont put me on hold again" - they always agree and say its just the system,,, and they cant help it, and they have to etc etc etc... and, well, yeah objectively I can see thats true... but it isnt my problem that your company has a crappy phone network.

I think the main problem is, it is horrible work most of the time, and you struggle to keep high quality people in that sort of job (or at least my company does)... good people wont do it for more than a year or so, so the concentration tends to be people "just passing through" or people who cant do any better. I have had really positive experiences... but a lot of the time you just get people who are rude and dont give a shit... and I know that it if I did their job I'd be no good at it and I'd come accross the same... but what is just another call for the call centre employee... it can be a big problem for the caller, thats casuing them a lot of frustration

And since everyone know's these fucking automated menu's are a horrible idea... why do so many call centre's use them????

The thing the poster said about giving positive feedback to the company when you have a good experience is a good idea, and I will probably do that. At work I always feedback to people's line managers when someone externally praises one of our guys, or they go above and beyond to help me... and I do it with our suppliers as well... so I guess I should do it with call centre people I speak too.
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Old 03-05-2005, 09:02 AM   #31 (permalink)
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So if someone was nasty to you on the phone, and say you give them just a little bit of attitude back... will you get bitched at by your boss? Or do they understand and let it slide? Im not sure I could handle being bitched at and just having to take it...

My brother works for a tech support call center and told me that you should always ask if they have a survey you can fill out if you had a good experience with them, and usually they will just foward you to one that you can take on the phone.
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Old 03-05-2005, 04:32 PM   #32 (permalink)
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I had a "Vice Pres" start giving me attitude the other day, and after explaining multiple times that what he wanted to go against Standard Operating Procedure, and could get me fired. He continued to give me attitude to the point that I broke down, and yelled into the phone "If you don't stop I WILL hang up on you!". He calmed down, and I was able to semi work with him, my manager sits directly behind me and did a golf clap as soon as I got off the line. She didn't say anything else.
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Old 03-06-2005, 11:31 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloydianOne
So if someone was nasty to you on the phone, and say you give them just a little bit of attitude back... will you get bitched at by your boss? Or do they understand and let it slide? Im not sure I could handle being bitched at and just having to take it...
Where I work, If we give attitude, we're out the door. The only thing we can do to people who are rude, is to give them as little service as possible to get them off of the phone. . . . even then, that'd make our "Quality Assurance" scores go down, and possible reprimands would ensue.

To hang up on a person is grounds for termination as well. The only valid way to hang up, is if a person is being verbally abusive (swearing), and we've given them three warnings in the phone call to tone it down. Then we can hang up. But - we also cannot interrupt a person while they are speaking. . . . so you have to wait until they take a breath. I'm amazed at how long a person can talk without breathing in

Oh, and to answer the other question about the automated system. . . . I don't know about every call center, but every call center I've worked at, if a person gets misdirected in the system, we "warm" transfer the customer directly to a representative in the right department. And the automated system, the bigwigs have decided, is a big money saver, and "supposedly" cuts down on misdirects. . . . Dude - I hate them too. I have no use for them, but unfortunately, in some places, they just seem like a necessary evil to the powers that be . . . . .
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Old 03-06-2005, 12:06 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
I often try to get the person's name when I call a company. Whoever I'm talking to I make a note of who it was and then try to respond to the company in regards to their performance. I've given a number of praises to people on more than one occaision. I've also actually had people at call centres actually hang up on me. The one time that happened the woman I got ahold of, I simply said "I just have one question for you..." and she hung up on me. I make sure I complained about it because there was no excuse for that. BUT when I complained I made note of the name and told the new person that I wasn't sure if the phones were having problems but that I felt it was rude even if she couldn't have answered my question she could have referred me to someone else. She hadn't even heard me out. It's possible that she had a phone connection problem but when I said that phrase she just said "Oh." Then I heard a click. It just sounded too purposeful. I've had a few experiences like that where they're actually rude to me. I try to be as pleasant as possible and quiet while they're looking things up. But if they're rude to me or give me the "It's not my responsibility" line then I'm gonna complain cause I rarely ask for much and if I do ask for much help I give them plenty of slack. When people tell me that it's not their responsibility my reply is - you're responsible to your company for the money you're earning - at least refer me to someone who CAN help me. It's the government offices that seem to hire the more rude employees. I've come upon about twice as many there who just couldn't give a crap what I want to know even when I ask as pleasantly as possible.
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Old 03-06-2005, 08:00 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Yes - definitely complain about the rude ones. There is NO call for anyone to treat ANYONE like crap. Especially, if customer service is your job!!!

I regularly have to call a different deptartment at my job, that's handled through a different company. I've had to ask for supervisor assistance so many times . . . There is one CSR there in particular that is a real pain in the ass. Working on getting that one canned. . . . .
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Old 03-06-2005, 09:52 PM   #36 (permalink)
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I've been having problems lately with calls dropping on my end. I'm not hanging up, but the call justs drops. Luckily it has only happened so far to nice, understanding customers. I'm not looking forward to having a call drop on somebody that is already screaming at me, and having to deal with them when they call back extra pissed because I "hung up" on them. I'm so thankful my work does not have automated menus.
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Old 03-07-2005, 06:44 AM   #37 (permalink)
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I have VERY mixed feelings about this. I really feel for the call centre employee, and sympathize greatly. I also sympathize for Police officers who get injured or worse in the line of duty, nurses and doctors who have no personal lives because of the hours they work. It goes on. the fact of the matter is, it's the nature of the job.

while I do not go out of my way to be rude, I am not my usual sunny disposition, when I have already had to contend with protracted voice menus and customer queues. I feel that I am still suffering from some sort of post call centre syndrome from my experience with Dell last september.

I really feel that the advent of the call centre has downloaded a lot of the customer service responsibility onto the customer. We now have to solicite service from the company. We now have to follow rules, and wait in queues just to get questions answered. this is all frustrating. it's almost a 180 degree version of telephone solicitation.

Since my Dell experience, I have purposely hung up whenever I get a put into a queue. I can't take the wait time. thing is my first experience with Dell in 1999 was perfect. Maybe volumes have disrupted the general Call centre business process. but something has to be fixed, for sakes of both sides.

oh - the speakerphone? a true god-send. I have a log here of my wait times:

Dell Sept 27 - on hold 17 mins
Dell sept 27 - spoke with rep, on hold again 23 mins

if it wasnt for the hands free, i couldn't heaten my lunch or did my work while waiting, and while i did try to pick up the receiver to convers, it wasn't worth it.
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Old 03-07-2005, 07:52 AM   #38 (permalink)
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I completely understand the leaving the phone on speakerphone while you wait minutes and minutes (hopefully not hours) to talk to someone. It's when I'm talking to someone, and they're on the handheld, and out of no where they swap to speaker without any warning.
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Old 03-07-2005, 12:03 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
I waited on the phone for AT&T regularly for a minimum of 30 min and once it was for 82 minutes. That was uncalled for. That's why we no longer use AT&T for ANYTHING. If we lived in an area that had AT&T for the local telephone service you can bet we'd be getting a cell phone from ANY other company. I have yet to find a helpful call center personel working for AT&T.
On the other hand we recently worked with Ameriquest to refinance. The service was exceptional. I told the manager over our representative how pleased we were and also passed on the positive response we got from our homeowners insurance representative from when he dealt with them as well.

I have heard that a negative experience will be related to 7 other people while a positive experience with a company will only be related to about 2-3 people. I try to balance that out by making recommendations for companies who DO help the customer well. Even if they aren't ABLE to help - if they will at least explain their reasons for being unable to help or direct me to someone who COULD help me then I an satisfied and will tell others of the positive experience.
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:25 PM   #40 (permalink)
Upright
 
Call centres? My resume is stuffed with call centre jobs...I sometimes think I like the punishment.
Lets see..I have rung people up to invite them to negative gearing seminars...that always goes down well at dinner time! Might I say that asking me for my number so you can call me at dinner time will get you nowhere, just multiple hang ups to annoy the heck out of you. Just remember would you rather I earnt a living or would you prefer that I live of the government?
I have worked for a telephone company...need I say more????
I have worked on an advice line for tenants and landlords. That was both heart wrenching and utterly unbelievable. The calls from pregnant mothers about to be thrown out on the street because they feel thru a loop hole can make you want to cry, but then there are the ones that seem to be able to afford an around the world trip, but not their rent (yes they happily tell you that) and are complaining that the police are about to remove them from their rental.
People are abusive and people are sweet...it seems to depend on the moon
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