Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Saturday, April 01, 2006
  Sadness Arrives For a Visit.


Sadness.

My personal definition of Sadness is an emotional sickness where feelings of hurt and depression are common. It can be caused by known or even unknown factors, whether problems perceived in the world around you, especially relationships, or physical factors such lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or other bio-chemical factors.

Feeling sad sucks. I think we can all agree on that. I don't like it because what remains in my own antiquated definitions of masculinity tells me being sad is a "feminine emotion". I know that's bullshit, but you don't go from being raised a dyed-in-the-wool redneck to a sensitive man who's in touch with all aspects of his inner child overnight. I'm trying to ease into it. I bought some after-shave moisturizer last week, I think this is a positive step in the right direction, but I still mix it with my Aqua Velva. Can't help it, I'm a menthol after-shave addict.

Anyway, beauty tips aside, sometimes I feel like sadness is some ninja-like foe, waiting in the darkness ready to leap out with a black sword and pierce my heart when I least expect it. In reality, many times sadness is like a virus, incubating little by little until I wake up with congested emotions and a chapped will-to-go- on-living.

Take this last week for example.

Monday, I went to work, everything was fine, except I returned a call to a customer to set up a trade and I got this little ray of sunshine from that companies administrator:"I've talked to you people over and over and you don't get it. Don't worry about doing any work for us! Your company can't follow up on anything we ask you to do! We'll call another broker! The person that called you didn't realize this!"

I sort of did that "emotional gulp" that men do, and went back to work, but it still hurt.

On Thursday, a customer called and went on and on about how they are going to stop doing business with us, and how they can't rely on us. It didn't matter what I said, he wanted to vent, I finally gave him the phone number to corporate and tried to get off the phone.
Gulp..Gulp...

On Friday, I called one of our outside vendors for help with something and got this little ray of sunshine, "We don't do business with your division anymore. Don't call here anymore. Do you understand?"

I hung up, and felt broken inside. Like I had been slugged in the gut. I just felt sad. I had taken it all week and I have had enough. If things weren't going better with management, I may have hit the clock for the final time and just driven somewhere, anywhere where there were no phones.

Even though I don't like my job, there is a part of me that enjoys being part of a large fairly successful company. I like it when we all work together and customers are happy. I like it when we do things right. I like being part of a team.

People don't realize that when you call someone and tell them how much their company stinks, it hurts that person on the other end. A company is not just mortar and brick, it's like an entity made up of tissue and cells. People are the cells that make up a company. Some of us put heart and soul into taking care of our customers. We spend time away from our families, we don't take lunch, we come early and stay late, so we can take care of you.

Then you call up and explain what a horrible company we work for, thinking you are some "incredibly discerning customer that demands quality service" and need to let us know these things. You know, that sort of rhetoric just shows what a small minded human being you are. It shows the lack of real professionalism, grace, and basic human kindness you should have learned in kindergarten.

If you don't want to do business with me, fine, I understand that. Just communicate in a way that doesn't poison the rest of my day. I don't know, maybe even some say something like, "Nothing personal, but I'm afraid we're rethinking our relationship with your company. Thanks for calling." Would that be so hard? Would that kind of politeness kill you? Instead I have to hear personal attacks from cretins with the sensitivity of a Mack truck without brakes.

Ok....

I feel better now that I've got that out of my system. Thanks for being there for this little bit of nastiness.
As always, thanks for reading,

Your friend,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Comments:
I don't know what has happened to people. They just don't stop to think about the human on the other side anymore. It takes a strong person to work with the "public," because a lot of the "public" is just plain mean.

Deep breaths, cog, deeeeep breaths.
 
Thanks CAD. I've found the happy place and Angelina Jolie is there with Grilled Chicken Nachos with a nice tomatillo sauce and extra onions and cilantro. She's wearing boots too! it's all good...

AC
 
True, true... I knew I'd reached critical burnout level when I'd start *agreeing* with customers like that (when they were on solid ground in their complaints, of course). And a funny thing happened: my satisfaction scores went up. For me, this was how I learned empathy. Or, let me amend that, how to create the *appearance* of empathy which, at my former company, was all that really mattered. Needless to say I'm no longer with them. I'm in an entirely different field now and enjoying it immensely. But those 4 call center years left an indelible mark - stain? - on my psyche. As always, good stuff & you have my unending admiration. Take care, man.
 
Empathy is what everyone wants-just to think that someone understands them. Sometime I do, and sometimes I understand they are an idiot-but I like to like them think its the same thing.

Thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

AC
 
It does not sound like you ever use email, but do you think that it can be as hurtful as speaking in person? Or would it be easier to take? Recently I felt guilty for a writing a snarky email to a big company.
 
Dear Anonymous,

I'm not sure I understand what you mean about me not using email. I don't send email to my bosses or management about my problems with work if that is what you mean.

As far as what is better in communicating your feelings to someone, I think its a toss-up which is better.

Speaking in person allows you to use such things as tone, body language, appearance and eye contact to express so much more clearly exactly what you want to communicate with so many more shades of meaning.

Email, or even snail-mail on the other hand is advantageous if you get nervous, or if you want to make sure that you don't forget everything that you want to say.

I hope that answers your question, feel free to email me at anonymous.cog at gmail dot com if you have any other questions.

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