Call center life

This post is actually an expansion on the theme of a comment I left at
Oh hallelujah!! Finally someone with a common-sense approach to CSR performance. I find myself slowly inching up from the floor within the call center evolutionary chain, currently working in the operations section of a call center in Kansas. I currently work with Volume Management and Log-In Ordering, but have done Work Force Management. Most of my call experience is with inbound computer/ISP issues, except for a brief stint in an out-bound telemarketing facility (that period is like my brother the lawyer- my family still loved me in spite of it.)
Well I recall the double-edged sword of Customer Service: AHT (Average Handle Time) and FCR (First Call Resolution). These were mantras drilled into our heads by increasingly flustered managers. Service Level Management (SLM) desk always ringing your phone or sending Roamers out to see if you needed help. Don’t bother to ask for help- the answer is in your resources. Never mind arguing the illogic of this oxymoron- you’d probably get written up for insubordination, although I doubt if any of them could even properly define the word.

Moving to Tech Support offered some relief. They STILL wanted it, but understood better that each problem was unique. Glory be for wrong numbers and hang-ups– they could help keep your AHT down.

There were posters around telling you to be prepared to provide your Billable Utilization (BU) on demand of a member of management, with a simple quadratic equation on how to determine this metric.

The newest client we have is a major cell-phone service provider. They’ve been stressing service over handle time, but recently I’ve seen disturbing references to BU creeping into the literature. The company for which I work is already having issues with burnout and retention. I was happy to get off the floor when I did, even if it meant creating schedules for the entire center – in Excel.

No one ever really took the Customer Satisfaction surveys seriously, which I felt as a mistake. Certainly, they were a pain to compile, but WAS THE CUSTOMER SATISFIED should have been the determining factor over handle time. I listened to others taking calls and finishing them in record time- by giving out inaccurate information.

 I was proud of the fact that I NEVER scored perfect on a Quality Analysis. I was more concerned with making certain the customer got what they needed, if it as within my power and abilities, over whether I used the correct phrasing. 

The next time you call  Customer Service or Tech Support, and the person seems in a rush to get you off of the phone or absolutely flustered, perhaps now you’ll understand a little better.  A common response to the threat “I’ll have your job!” from a caller was “You couldn’t do my job!”,  hopefully said with the Mute button depressed.





2 thoughts on “Call center life

  1. Having been in a call center before as well, I always try to

    A) Give respect. I’m asking for their help, after all, and call center work is hard work. I always try to talk to the person by their name.

    B) *Genuinely* thank them for their help at the end. Again, using their name.

    C) If I am angry or pissed about something, I usually tell them up front in as calm of voice as I can muster. “Look, I’ve had a really bad day, and I’m really angry. Honestly, you don’t make enough money to deal with my anger, please let me talk to the supervisor so I can scream at someone who actually deserves it.” This usually wins them over, and most of the time, believe it or not, they can talk me down from my angry place, and I end up thanking them. Genuinely. If they can’t talk me down, then I do get to yell at someone who deserves it. And that makes me happy as well as I know that the poor underpaid person who first answered my call has one less angry person to deal with.

  2. It has made me more sensitive to speaking with call center agents- especially when I can tell they’re new. Anybody who thinks working in a call center is easy needs to do it for a month, not one night and suddenly you’re an expert like news reporters during Sweeps Week on TV.

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