Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Thursday, June 22, 2006
  On My Own...Conclusion

Click the above to read part I

Five minutes into my first day as a supervisor and I already had six calls in the queue holding over five minutes. They had left me with five fewer people than normal, and I was the only one on duty with more than one year's experience. I guess that was why I was left in charge.

Call volume is the strangest thing. It almost has a life of its own sometimes. You can try to study it, but many times it can't be counted on to be heavy or slow when you think it should be. It can come in gentle, like lapping waves on the beach, or like a Tsunami spawned by a 7.0 earthquake. What you almost never see at a call center,(at least mine), is that holy grail, "the nice rhythm", that mythical sort of traffic where there is always time to complete a conversation with a co-worker, always time to finish chewing or drinking before taking the next call, and never too many calls that you have to put your bladder on hold. That sort of phone traffic is a miracle when it comes and makes the job pleasant and carefree, except for the customers that is.

This was not a Tsunami yet, but it had the beginnings of a Nor'easter. I had about double the trades I normally took in an hour and no end in sight. We kept up a good fight for the first couple of hours and seemed to be keeping our heads above water when the "discriminating customers" started finishing their no foam decaf latte and decided they would drop a dime and see if they could make a casual trade or two.

"I've been on hold for way too long."
"Your customers deserve better treatment than this!"
"Do I get some sort of prize for holding this long?"
"You need to expedite this trade-Do you understand me?"

I managed to get most of my trades complete and decided that I needed to check out the situation before I took any more. If I just kept pounding them out and didn't check out what everybody else was doing, things would only get worse. The newbies were about two and a half hours behind on their post-trade customer calls and everyone else had many more non-completed trades than they should have. It was time to call in reinforcements.

I called Frank, the second shift guy, his little girl answered the phone and thought I was some stranger she wasn't supposed to talk to and hung up. I don't think he got the message. I left him voicemail on his cellphone. I called my supervisors cell phone-nothing. I sent him an email to his blackberry:"Need help-Frank not available-Calls holding 14 minutes and post trades are almost 3 hours overdue-AC"

The rest of the day was spent putting out fires, calming customers and just trying to keep from losing it. The staff did great, we all hung together, no one gave me a hard time, no one left. We all acted like some frickin' well-oiled machine, except that it was tumbling down an steep embankment, end over end, but a well-oiled machine none the less.

Frank and my supervisor showed up about three hours later, hardly the Cavalry. We made some sort of record for calls received in a four hour period. "Good job, AC! You held it all together.", my supervisor smacked me on the back lightly. I looked at him for about four seconds before I spoke. I wanted to tell him thanks for throwing me to the dogs with a small staff, but he's just as new as I am. He's still figuring it out too. At least with him, I know he doesn't have that core of evil like Larry and the previous GM did.

"You're welcome...Maybe not so much next time.", was the best thing I could say.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Can I ask a genuine question: why do you stay at this call centre? Why not find *another* call centre job? They vary quite a lot - not all are as bad as what you are describing.
Its a good question I don't mind answering. I have a plan to leave that should be complete some time next year. Being a married guy with a bunch of debt, I have to suck it up until I can leave without causing damage to my happy home. I have tried to find other jobs that paid more repeatedly with little luck up to now. I really believe that I should be gone by next year. Thanks for asking.

Oh, the mythical nice rhythm *wistful*

It never seems to happen does it?

But like I said. You did great! I knew you would.
Thanks ~j.
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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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