Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Thursday, September 02, 2004
  The Squeaky Wheel

One of the banes of my existence is customer complaints, That is until this week. As you can imagine, in a business based on working with other people's money, it doesn't take much to piss someone off. There are so many things that can go wrong, with the market and other forces we can't control. Even if customers know they aren't in the right, people will complain if something happened to cause them to lose money. You can't really blame them.

It works like this, the customer calls in and expresses their disappointment and asks for the matter to be turned over to our "Customer Satisfaction" department. I enter it into a special screen in the computer and hit "Complete" and it is transmitted to the powers that be. They then determine how we can blame someone or something else and explain to the customer why they are satisfied by losing money, I think it involves mirrors or the metric system, its very mysterious.

"Customer Satisfaction" is part of the operations department. The person in charge of this is a 30-something yuppie with black slicked-back hair and a penchant for busy ties. He carries himself like he is above us all, and too important to speak to us unless it is to explain how we failed the company in such a way that the company may actually have to own up to, and pay back some money to the customer. I think the payment of money back to the customers may actually affect his bonuses somehow.

Today, we saw a different side of him. About 11 am a female customer from Maryland called in asked for Mr. Satisfaction. Across from my cubicle, my new coworker from the temporary agency took the first call. Henry is a great worker who wants to help people. He's, shall we say, not very masculine, but a very nice guy. Henry made the mistake of telling our lady customer that Mr. Satisfaction was indeed in the office today, and he would put him right through to him. When Henry advised Mr. Satisfaction he had a call and who it was, Mr. Satisfaction told him that he would not speak to the customer, and to put her through to his voicemail. Henry tried to lie, but he has not developed that skill yet, and the woman was not convinced.

Five minutes later, I could hear my other co-worker who had not been a part of this conversation, make the same mistake and admit Mr. Satisfaction was here and tried to transfer the call again, only to be told to transfer the customer to voicemail. That was it, our customer knew Mr. Satisfaction was in, and he was avoiding her. I imagined her on the other end of the phone, looking at the reciever and planning her next move. This was the last straw. She had been "handled", lied to, and it was time for some justice.

She started to call repeatedly, I think she was pounding her redial button over and over again. Every other time, poor Henry gets the call. He's changing his name, changing his voice, sounding like he's some Springsteen wannabe from New Jersey, a southern gentleman from Atlanta, and I think I heard him trying to do a Spanish accent at one point. Time after time, he's putting the woman to voice mail, asking our supervisor to talk to her, and doing anything he can.

This woman finally says to my supervisor, "I am tired of this bullshit. I know he is there, and I am going to call you over and over, and tie up your lines until I get this guy. I will find friends and family, we are going to continue to call. I will post this phone number on internet chat rooms as a place for a good time, you will be inundated with calls until you put this shithead on the phone, are you getting my point?"

Finally, the general manager forces Mr. Satisfaction to answer the phone, but he did it out on the floor where all the employees can hear this call. He starts to whine like a puppy hit by a newspaper, explaining how there is a process involving the accounting department and other members of management. He explained he was only one person, and was doing the best he could. She broke him, he lost his cool. The silk tie, the coiffed hair, the expensive cologne, it all meant nothing. We all knew who had the balls, and it wasn't him. I don't normally root for pushy customers, but I was this time.

As I finished my bologna sandwich, I thought, "Cool, dinner and a show."

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Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.

Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.

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"One must know oneself, if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is nothing better." -Blaise Pascal

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