Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Friday, March 31, 2006
  Oh, Please, Oh Please Mr. Customer, Please Don't Threaten Me!

In the last couple of days I have noticed something about my customers. When they feel they are being taken advantage of, or think they are being ignored or just aren't happy with how things are going, they start making threats. Sometimes I wish I could let them know how I really feel. I wish I could make incredibly clear the depths of my apathy. Customers that threaten me cause this valve inside my head to be opened that fills an area the size of an Olympic swimming pool with properly chlorinated and perfectly heated, I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass quality brand of apathy.

"If I don't get better service, I will take my business elsewhere!"

"You don't see the severity of the situation, you are about to lose a customer because of these problems!"

"You guys better shape up! I'm not going to put up with this forever!"

"I guess I'm just going to have to call your competitor."


It just becomes so hard to take people seriously when they threaten me. I really want to laugh in their faces. They just seem like some wigged-out quixotic figure, spurring their donkey on to challenge the wizard of the evil call center. I cared before they called, but when they start making threats I just want to giggle.

Now before the guys over at GetHuman.com start sharpening their pitchforks, let me explain some things. First of all, I do care about my customers. I want them to be happy, I want to do a good job, I want to make them and my company money through my good service.

The thing about making threats is this, while they are a good device for making sure that people know you are not happy, beyond that they do nothing to make the person on the other side of the phone feel for you. Threats do nothing besides make the call center worker feel powerless and alienated.

Why is that you may ask? It's because call centers are set up to provide multiple companies with service solutions at reasonable costs. In layman's terms, call centers answer the phones for multiple companies in the cheapest and fastest way possible at the lowest cost possible so we can buy things as cheaply as possible.

Let's give a more concrete example. Wal-Mart has great prices, and great selection. But when you want help to find something, or ask someone for help with a technical question you either can't find anyone, or if you do, you get a blank stare, or they tell you they will page someone and disappear into the underwear section again, hiding behind the leopard thongs rack until you finally give up and wander off.

You can blame the people that work there, but they are just like call center workers, they aren't paid to go out of their way and spend hours helping you and learning all they can know about the products they sell. Instead, they are paid to do as little as possible to take keep a large store stocked and clean so the everyday low prices can continue.

The fact that large call centers exist that take care of multiple companies means threats are not an effective tool in the long run. You are just one of hundreds of crabby customers that call every day. The call center worker can only do so much without getting in trouble. They have goals for calls handled per day, calls handled per hour, and average time per call.

There remains a better way to get service. I've said it before and I will say it again: when you call with a problem, approach the call center worker in such a way that they can be the hero. Remember their name, ask them if they can do you a favor, be the person that they will go out of their way to help. Yes, you can order people around because "you are the customer", but treating people like slaves creates the worst kind of service. Instead, be the person that they consider worth doing extra for. Be the person that they are willing to break the rules for, because you were kind, appreciative and grateful.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Comments:
AC,
Thanks as always for voicing the opinion of so many CSR's. I actually love when people threaten to go to our competitors. Because as much as my company can suck...we are the best bet out there right now! So I usually encourage them to go right ahead and check out the competition. Now, the person who calls me and tells me they are mad at whatever it is my company has done and are willing to let me work to help them, for them I will go to the ends of the earth. I wish some people would realize the old adage of "you catch more flies with honey than vinager" is so true when it comes to Call Center Reps!
 
Thanks ~j!
AC
 
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Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.
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