Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Saturday, January 08, 2005
  The Walk-Out...

"You have no right to tell me how to work old man!" She screamed.

"Oh Yeah? You aren't perfect. All you do is bitch and moan how no one else is as perfect as you! Quit whining and get back to work!"

"Screw you! I'm out of here! We'll discuss this when Larry gets back in the office!"

Then she was gone...

She walked right out in the middle of a busy shift and all she left was the scent of her cologne and an atmosphere of guile and anger on the call floor...

Several days ago Larry was sick and one of the other assistant supervisors stepped in for the day. George has never really been a supervisor in the sense of knowing how to lead people and resolve conflicts, he's more of a veteran that knows the business, but is otherwise not what we would call a "people person". That's a nice way of saying he can be an asshole...

We were at half staff on a Wednesday. Three other people were out that day, and we were very busy with customers coming off of their Christmas vacations. I was sitting two cubicles away from Sonya, one of my favorite coworkers, and Tom was in the cubicle next to me. There was also several other temps, four other regular employees and an older man named Henry. Henry has been here as long or longer than me, but he still has no clue how things work, so he mainly does services that are essentially following up on and adjusting services already set up, and he doesn't do that not very well.

The call volume started to increase halfway through the day. George was taking calls at his own speed, and not really stepping up to the plate. He's such a fixture, he doesn't care and is just here marking time. Sometimes, he passes calls off to other people, or just puts them back into the queue if he does not want to take them. Then he will go to the other extreme and take a bunch of calls before he starts handling the trades, and the trades get delayed and customers get pissed off.

George was up to his normal ways, passing off calls and just doing things half-ass. But that wasn't what finally set Sonya off, but it certainly didn't help. What broke the camel's back was that Henry had messed up a bunch of her transactions and customers had called her back about them. In the midst of a really busy day, Sonya had to fix something she already set up because Henry just doesn't get it, but is not able to be taught either.

Sonya has been here longer than me and we have always got along well. She is one of the most excellent agents here. Her call volume is exceptional, along with a real sense of how to do things right the first time. But she does seem to have a real hard time accepting how messed-up our corporate culture is. She never seems to be able to accept that things aren't going to change or be fair as long as we have the current management in command. I would tell her to get a blog, but I don't think that would be a good idea.

Sonya started yelling at Henry, asking him why he can't follow policy and why he continues to make such stupid mistakes. She didn't really want an answer, she just wanted to vent. Henry started yelling back trying to defend himself, and would not let the matter drop after Sonya had spoke her mind.

"Just let it drop, Henry..." she hissed.
"But if I messed it up, I want to fix it. I've checked all of my transactions, I don't see any errors." he shot back.
"Let it drop, damn it!"

From there George stepped in, acting more like a bully defending one of his henchman than a supervisor trying to get through the shift. Before I knew it, there was cussing, and phones slamming and then I heard the door slam.

Tom and I just tried to keep our heads down and make it through the rest of the shift. Soon after that, the call volume abated and we actually had a pretty mellow shift until the end of the day three or four hours after the markets closed.

I could hear George talking to Larry at home in bed with the flu, explaining his side and why he was right. Sonya later told us that she had called Larry on her cell phone and explained her side that day.

I know that Sonya is right, even if she was a hothead. Sometimes I think George really has no business being in charge, at least not all the time. But its wrong to expect everyone to act right when there is no real management or discipline above George. Bad corporate culture is like fresh fish, it goes bad at the head first...

Thank for reading,


This all sounds so, so husband works in a call centre, has worked in several now, actually, and it seems like each workplace has the same cast of characters.
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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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