Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Friday, October 29, 2004
  It finally happened...Part 4

Part 3

The GM broke the silence,
"AC, if you look at your overall numbers compared to other people, they are very low. You are on the low end of production for new requests for service. This type of wasting time is just a symptom of your substantive failings as an advisor."

I had finally come to a place in my passive-aggressive life where I would not roll over again. I was going to say how I felt this time and really defend myself...

I drew in a breath and started to speak. At once I felt like I was on the inside looking out on somebody else speaking. There was no awkward pauses, there were no "well...", or "uhh...", none of those verbal devices we use while we try to think of what to say next. No, this was flowing smooth.

"My numbers are low? Well, this is great. After working here almost five years without any kind of review, you've picked now to offer me some constructive criticism. I would have enjoyed knowing what you really wanted for these last five years."
My eyes were very wide, my voice had raised in volume.

5 seconds passed...
They both sort of tilted their heads, wrinkled their brows, like a guy I remember from college always looked at algebra equations with fractions in it. I don't think they expected a such a strong response.

The GM stuttered for a second, then started again, "But you must have noticed that your numbers are low. You must have noticed that you don't clear as many transactions as the other people. All we are asking you to do is take a look at your numbers in comparison to the others."

It was not the same arrogant tone that I have grown to hate. He was not superior, or demeaning. It sounded like a father talking to a wayward child he loved dearly.

That had the opposite effect on me. How dare you treat me like shit for the rest of the workweek, almost never greet me in the hall, and then act like we have some sort of relationship.

"Oh, I've looked at my numbers compared to everyone else. Let me tell you what I have found. I perform more quality-assurance calls, I perform more billing update calls than some of your veteran top performers out there."

Larry interrupted, "You don't do as good of a job as Rico, and he does the same sort of advising as you do! His numbers are great!"

I wasn't ready for this. Rico is actually my friend even though he is a not a great worker. Like all of us, I didn't come up with an answer for this until much later. Instead, I chose to ignore Larry and try to hammer away at the GM some more.

"All of the things that you guys go on and on about being important, cost-analysis, complete billing addresses, advising customers about market changes, I do all of that. Do I get any kind of reward for that? Do I get a pat on the back? Not at all. Meanwhile, you give all the credit to your veterans that never do what you write about in all these memos. I've looked at my numbers, and they are good when it comes to the things that you have told me are important. Maybe I should become like these guys and only do the calls that are easy. Is that what you want?"

"If numbers are so important, why have you never told me what numbers you want from me? The fact is since you have not told me what you want, I do the best I know how, I take care of the customers the way your memos tell me to."

The GM awkwardly replies, "You must have known we give you some consideration besides purely basing your performance. I mean we can't tell people that they must hit so many numbers, it's impossible."

"I believed that was the case, I believed that you weren't grading me on my numbers, that is, until today..."

I continued to stare at them both.

The GM managed to gather up some arrogance again, "Getting back to the original reason for this meeting, that is your waste of time and company resources in things we can't bill out.You do know, we are here to make money, that's what its all about."

"I'm very clear that you are here to make money and how important that is."

The thing that really gets me is, he did not get any of the meaning of my response, nor do I think its possible for him to. I continued, trying to lead this towards a more conciliatory tone, with just once more zinger left...

"I can see where you are coming from about this. I understand. I guess I was a little confused about these offers, because Larry told me to give out information for free before, and I thought it was ok..."

Larry was burning up, I had probably damaged our relationship forever. I did not care, he ratted me out, he needed to know it worked both ways.I decided I would build a bridge at this point. I was becoming very tired, and it was hard to keep my emotions in check.

"Look, I know I have a problem wasting time, and I really made a mistake to day. I promise you both I will never do this again and will make a real effort to not waste time and see how I can increase my numbers. Is there anything else you need from me?"

They just shook their heads "no". I think they were tired also.

As I got up to leave, the nice guy reappeared instantly,"Do you want me to close the door on the way out?"

The GM shook his head "yes", and they were silent as I left.

I felt like a limp ragdoll. I was still hot with emotion, and still was trying not to hate them. But there was a new feeling inside: self-respect, dignity, the soul was still there...

Click Here to Read the Epilogue.

Thanks for reading...


Good for you! It takes a lot of nerve to stand up for yourself and yet from what you've written you did without going too far on the other side and causing irreparable damage. Glad it went as well as it did! Meanwhile I hope that you can find a job/career that you can be passionate about!
You're welcome.

I've been avidly checking out your site to see if you've posted your latest entry pertaining to what happened. It's hard as it is to dance to the way they expect employees to behave but it takes a lot of guts to voice out your feelings and not bow to them.

Thanks for sharing this with us. A truly enlightening post.
Great stuff. Well done.
I think you did fine AC. You didn't loose yourself but were able to say a lot of what you wanted to. Hang on to that "new feeling inside: self-respect, dignity, the soul..."
Oh god, it sounds like you work for Precision Response or Expanets. I worked for them for 6 months and I had to get out before I started popping any kind of pill I could find to save my sanity.
Great job! You managed to find the balance between sticking up for yourself, getting your point across, and not getting fired. It's harder than it sounds, I know!

It sounds like you were trying to go above and beyond for the customer. That means a lot these days especially in the competive world of business. If your supervisors and managers could stop tripping over their own egos long enough they would realize that having a reputation as a customer oriented business improves their bottom line.
Excellent customer service+happy repeat customers=increased business

I sincerely believe that most companies go under because of mistakes made due to the ego of management.
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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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