Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Thursday, February 02, 2006
  The Apology

Some callers can really make your day, and others ruin it. It's not very often that its the same caller...

I picked up the phone from one of our third party customers, that is a customer where they contract me to do the service for their customer and then they act as if their company did the work,(it gets a little confusing).

Anyway, I normally do not speak to the "end-customer", normally it all goes through my customer, the middleman. I kind of like it that way, because my customer is someone at another call center, so they understand what's going on and always treat me well, almost always. Myron was on the phone, he's one of my favorite customers.

"AC, something went horribly wrong with this transaction. This guy is screaming bloody murder that he got an email showing that we bought the wrong fund!"
I looked it up, and he was right, but both Myron's files and my files matched. Myron's customer gave us the wrong fund information, it wasn't really anybody's fault-just one of those things that happen.
"Myron, why don't you let me talk to him directly? It might be quicker, and he doesn't have to know I'm a third party."
"That sounds great AC! I don't want any more mistakes on this one."

I called the customer up and identified myself as a specialist for my customer and that I was trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong and get it fixed. From the beginning of the call it was clear that he was one of those customers that was always in that twilight of a mood that was always somewhere between whining and righteous indignation.

"Every time I use you guys something goes wrong! This happened last time! I can't believe you can't do something as simple as this!"
"I'm really sorry this happened sir. I'm afraid you gave us the wrong fund name. What would you like me to do to fix this?"
"Oh, I see, it's my fault. You guys never take the blame for anything! Whatever happened to the customer is always right? Why, I oughtta just cancel this altogether! You people make me sick!"

It had come to the point where ass-kissing was useless as a tool to deal with this guy. I felt like it was time for some tough love.

"Look, I'm really sorry about this. You can still cancel it, or do whatever you want. I can't go back in time and change the name of a fund that has had the same name for five years. I will be glad to put the trade back through and call you, personally, on the phone and give you confirmation of exactly how it came out. What do you want me to do?"
He had lost the arrogance for now.
"Just put it through again..."
"Thanks, I'll call you back right away"

I made sure I did not have that effervescence cheerful sound in my voice, and replaced it with terseness. Some people don't deserve good customer service-he was my choice for the day. This guy had taken me to a special place I really don't like to visit. It justs amazes me that people are at their nastiest to others when its their fault. I don't understand it totally.

I set the trade up ASAP, and actually got a slightly better deal than he was set to get before. I called Myron and told him the good news, then steeled myself to call the asshole.

I was all ready for his acid tongue, so I tried to sound as cold and business-like as possible.
"Mr Smith, the trade is done, I think you may have made some money off it in the end."
Then he said something that changed everything between us.

"I'm sorry for being a fool. I shouldn't have yelled at you. It wasn't your fault. I'm in customer service, I know what its like to be yelled at. I'm sorry..."
At that very moment, my feelings for this individual totally reversed themselves. I wanted to shake his hand. He was my hero for the day. I was filled with admiration that in the face of acting like such an asshole, he had the guts to admit he was wrong. He knew I was not to blame, but more than that, he spoke to me like an equal, not as his inferior. This sort of apology took the kind of guts you so rarely see in today's consumer-driven society.

"Its OK, I forgive you. Thanks, that means a lot coming from you..."
"You're welcome. Thanks for fixing it. Goodbye"

And he was gone, and my day had went from crappy to glorious in a state of 30 mins. All it took was the sort of sincere humanity that I see so rarely in this place.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

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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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