Phone Etiquette Part 2


6) The Hands Free Lover
What’s the point of putting your phone on speaker and standing the other side of the room? It sounds as though you are speaking to a family member. We are only going to say ‘hello’ so many times before we assume you don’t wish to speak to us and we hang up. We’re in a busy call centre. It’s noisy. If you’re on speaker phone we can’t hear you.

7) The Frog
Also commonly called the Croaker or the Horse. Please don’t phone us if you need to clear your throat. We wear headsets so the sound of you clearing your throat is magnified and deafening. We are not paid to have our eardrums burst. And trust me it hurts our ears. I have often had to remove my headset because of this. I can’t hear or help you if you force me to remove my headset. Simple as that.

8) The Free Thinker
We are not paid to make your decisions for you. Too many customers phone in and ask us what’s best for them, or what should they do. People need to think for themselves. We don’t know what insurance your property needs. We don’t know what other insurance you may already have. So there’s no point in asking us ‘is it covered under my home insurance?’ How are we supposed to know? We are not mind readers. We sell insurance. It is not a call centre where you can ring and someone will make a decision for you. Do your own thinking. Try reading the documents we send out. Try reading the documents you have from other companies.

9) The Masquerader
Don’t pretend to be someone else. Not only is it annoying it’s also illegal. You may be phoning on behalf of an elderly relative but saying that you are them and that you are the policy holder, when you are not, is illegal. It is a criminal offence. You are, in effect, stealing someone’s identity, never mind committing fraud. If we find out that you are doing this, and the actual real person is not there, then you will be cut off. No doubt about it. We will end the call immediately.

10) The Upper Cut
There’s at least one person per day who thinks that they are better than we are. You can hear it in their voice as soon as we answer the phone. They often incorporate several of the aforementioned as well as speaking to us with a very obvious air of pomposity. They have their favourite phrases, such as, ‘Just get on with it.’ Or ‘I don’t need you tell me all that. I know it already.’ We invariably tell them something they don’t know. They then jump on us as if we have no right telling them the facts. They should just remember that they are phoning us because they want our help with something. Not the other way round.

These are but a few of the annoying types who phone us. Of course they don’t make up the whole of our customers. Luckily. Many of the people who phone us are really nice, friendly and intelligent. Most of the time we can have a laugh and a joke with the customer.


Phone Etiquette Part 1

We constantly get callers who don’t know how to use the telephone with the correct etiquette – or manners as it’s more commonly called. Here’s a list of some of the more common rude mannerisms.

1) The Hollywood Actor
We’ve all seen the films where some actor or another has to use the phone. They never hold it correctly. The receiver is always held with the hand around the phone. If it’s the conventional landline then the hand is around the mouth piece at the bottom of the phone. If it’s a mobile their hand is usually around the whole phone especially the bottom part where the mouth piece is. They don’t worry – they’re actors and not actually making a real phone call. But many people – wannabe Hollywood actors – do exactly the same thing when they’re making a real phone call. Result? All we hear is a garbled, muffled sound. We haven’t got a clue what you’re going on about so there’s really no point in you phoning us. Go away.

2) The Nervy Type
This is the person who is so nervous about phoning in that they actually haven’t stopped to think about what they’re phoning for. All we get is a load of stuttering, uming and arghing, and then a story that is so disjointed it makes no sense whatsoever. Result? We are literally left speechless. Although we have a lot of sympathy for nervous people – we don’t bite – we would much rather you think about what you want before phoning us. Write it down if it helps. Or talk slowly until things come back to you.

3) The Ill Person
We really have no business knowing about your ills and woes. It has nothing to do with us. You may be really sick – we do have sympathy and feeling towards people. We are human after all. But telling us a sob story about the 16 different types of illness you have will not get you a discount. Then there’s the people who have coughs and colds. Now I know we are all prone to these annoying maladies, and we all have to continue our normal daily stuff (accept if you have man flu and then the rest of us have extra chores). But when you call someone it is a very good idea to give your nose a good blow before phoning. Also have a good cough before calling. Keep a glass of water handy. Coughing down the phone, sniffing down the phone, or blowing your nose while on the phone certainly won’t pass the virus to us, but it makes us feel nauseous. We are not going to sit at our desk and start vomiting. Being made to vomit is against our health and safety therefore you will get cut off.

4) The Chewer
It’s definitely not cool to phone someone while you are chewing or eating. It sounds disgusting. Slurping down the phone is not trendy or fashionable. Why not put the food down or chuck the chewing gum when you make a phone call? It’s bad manners to eat down the phone, it sounds sickening, and you deserve to be cut off.

5) The Shouter
Trust me on this. If we can’t hear you we will tell you. There’s no need for you to assume that we are deaf. We work in a call centre and so far I have not met anyone in there who has hearing difficulties. If you, the customer, has hearing difficulties please don’t assume that we do also. We don’t. You do not have to shout. We can’t do our job properly if we have the hold the headset a foot away from our ears.

Here’s just a few to get started. Part 2 coming up…


Well it’s a Sunday, my day off, and I’m sitting at home with a cold and sore throat. Crap. I’m dosing myself up with paracetamol and a lie in. I’m up now obviously. A nice lie in the bath is also planned with a book. So illness does have it’s positive side.

I’ve probably got it from work. There’s several people ill at the moment. They come to work because they are afraid of being getting into trouble and afraid of losing money. The rest of us then catch whatever they’ve got. I’m sure this is the same in most companies.

I think sick people should be forced to go home. Its against health and safety to put sick people next to healthy people – when the sickness is viral. That way the company would lose less money due to sickness as there wouldn’t be as many people catching it. Common sense, surely?

Full Moon

It was the full moon yesterday and, sure enough, we had some strange calls. As well as almost every caller taking about 10 minutes to actually tell me why they were calling, there were a few of the more memorable calls.

‘Good morning. You’re through to…Can I take your address please?’

‘The house is called…It’s 300 years old. It was built in the 1700’s and has quite an unusual pipe work. One of the previous owners…’

17 minutes later: ‘Can I have the rest of the address please?’

Or how about the customer who asked for a letter confirming that their policies were secure. Yes, that’s right. ‘Can you send me a letter to state that my policies are secure?’

Or how about the customer who received a call from someone asking for her bank details. ‘He told me it was for fraud.’

‘Ok. Let me just confirm this with you. You received a call from a man asking for your bank details. He told you it was because of fraud. He didn’t say anything else. You gave him your bank details. Is this correct?’

‘Yes. That’s all correct.’

No wonder so many people fall prey to con artists.

Full Moon Is Almost Here

It’s almost a full moon and the loonies are out in force. Loonies/looney from lunar meaning moon. Just in case you didn’t know. People in centuries past believed that the moon had an effect on the way people behaved or thought. Science of course sees this as an old wives tale. Working at the call centre and in other jobs previously dealing with the public, I have seen evidence that it is true.

Two callers yesterday told me they’d had a mailing for a policy. They both asked the price even though it is in large writing on the leaflet. One guy even insisted that the price wasn’t on there. I told him it was £12. ‘I know that. It says it on here,’ he then said. I set the policy up for him and gave him the phone number for claims.

‘What if I have an emergency?’ he asked.

‘Then you need claims.’

‘I know that. What’s the number I call?’

‘The one I’ve just given you and said was for claims.’

Another guy gave me the address of a property he wanted covered. ‘Is this were you live?’ I asked him. He said yes so I began the process of setting up the cover.

‘Can you send the documents to my office?’ he asked.

‘No problem. I just need to check the eligibility of the property first. Is this your main place of residence?’ I asked for the second time.

‘No. I rent it out.’

Or how about the caller who clearly didn’t know what she wanted.

‘Do you want the cover with or without excess?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know. What do other people do?’

‘They decided what is best suited for them first, and then go for that option.’

‘But what option do they go for?’

‘The one that suits their needs. You need to decide which option suits you best.’ I politely explained.

After several minutes of debating the options she eventually chose. I then asked, ‘would you like us to allow your tenants to call up and make a claim?’

Several minutes later she decided it was best for the agents to deal with that type of thing. We then moved on to the payment option. ‘Would you like to pay with debit or credit card or direct debit?’

‘I don’t know. What’s the best way?’

Ten minutes later I actually managed to finish setting up the policy.

I’m off today. Tomorrow is the full moon and I’m in work. I am not looking forward to it but it should be eventful nonetheless.

Same Cover?

A guy called asking to take out cover. He came through on a particular line for a particular cover we do. The customer then proceeded to give me the reference for a completely different cover. It didn’t throw me. I merely double checked the reference and proceeded to set up the policy. I reached the price details and the customer then proceeded to tell me that he had a different price on another sheet of paper. After some questioning it appeared that he had received mailings for two different covers at different prices covering different things.

I pointed this out to the customer and explained the difference between the two policies. However, the customer was having none of this. Why? Because he had received the mailings at the same time.

‘You may have received them at the same time,’ I told him, ‘but they are different policies. They are called different names and are different prices.’

‘Yes, but I had them on the same day. And this one is a cheaper price so why are you charging me the more expensive price?’

‘Because you asked me to set up the other cover. Why don’t you read the letters first and then decide which policy you want? Then you can call us back.’

‘But I received these on the same day!’

What I really wanted to say was: ‘Just because you had them both at the same time doesn’t mean they are the same fucking policy! They cover different things. If you actually read them you would see that. It’s not rocket science. You don’t need a master’s in brain surgery. If they have different names and different prices they are OBVIOUSLY DIFFERENT COVERS you dumb bastard. Do I really need to explain the difference again? It’s very simple. They cover different things. That’s why they are different prices!’ However, I managed to keep my cool and was very polite at all times.

I decided it would be best to take a walk away from the desk after this call.

Do You Know Your Own Home?

Customer called up today asking for boiler cover. Nothing unusual about that. It’s one of our main policies.

‘Is it natural gas from the metre?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know.’

I changed the format of the question. ‘Do you get the gas piped in from the mains? Or is the boiler LPG or oil?’

‘Oh. I don’t know.’

I tried again. ‘Do you have a gas metre on the property?’

‘I don’t know. A man comes to read a metre.’

‘Is it a gas metre?’

‘I really don’t know.’

At this point I lost my patience. ‘Surely you know if you have a gas metre in your own home?’

‘I didn’t realise this was going to be so difficult,’ she said. ‘Just leave it. I’ll phone back another time.’

How can people not know what metres they have in their own home, or what type of boiler they have? Surely this is simple information that a homeowner would find out before moving into a property? Surely people know what type of bills they are paying and what they are for?

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there are a few people, often women, who allow their partner to deal with everything in the home, utility wise, to such an extent that they have no idea of what’s going on. They are completely ignorant of paying the bills, what kind of insurance they have, where they get the energy from, etc. This is an outlook from the Middle Ages that sometimes raises it’s ugly head in the 21st century.

It’s an extremely outdated view of how a partnership or marriage should work. What happens if the partner is unable to sort things out for whatever reason? The other person is then left struggling without a clue. When will this type of pathetic, bigoted attitude cease? Surely it would be better for everyone to take responsibility in the home, not just one person?

Alternatively, wouldn’t it be so nice to have so much money that you could just pay bills and not care about what they are or how many they are?

Putting On Weight

I’ve put on a few pound working at the call centre. Actually it’s a bit more than a few. The frequent buffets we have don’t help. We seem to have one to celebrate anything and everything, whether it’s a religious festival, a birthday, a leaving, an engagement, absolutely anything will do as an excuse to stuff our faces.

I lost two stone a year or so back, following a well known diet plan. After a while I got fed up with following it and have now put a stone back on. Not good.

It doesn’t help sitting down all day, the food hits the bum and can’t go anywhere else. I saw a program on TV saying we stand at our desk as much as possible as it helps to lose weight. I tried that. I got back ache bending down to type. The standing was soon given up.

I decided, before Christmas, that I needed to eat better. I already eat a lot of veg. I love my veg. I don’t eat much meat, so have decided to cut it out completely. After all, they tell you to eat 5 fruit/veg a day. They don’t say anything about eating meat. I don’t eat much fruit so I’ve bought some and I’m making a real effort to eat it.

As my downfall is crisps – I love savoury food – I thought I’d try nuts instead. Again something the food-powers-that-be tell you to eat for the ‘good’ fat and protein. I’ve mixed the nuts with seeds and a bit of dried fruit. This was planned before Christmas, which was full of chocolate, crisps, and biscuits.

Since new year I’ve not had any crisps or chocolate – apart from new year’s day when I had a buffet. So far so good. I’ve a lost a pound and half in the last few days chomping on nuts and seeds at my desk, with my box full of various veg for lunch and tea. It’ll be interesting to see if I can continue with this and for how long. I’ll just have to try better than I usually do…

Marvellous Mistakes

Speaking to some of the customers who phone us, I often wonder how they manage to get by from day to day. I know we all make mistakes it’s what us humans are known for. But some mistakes made by us mortals are worthy of being mentioned. Take a lady who phoned in a few days ago. She told me she’d received a letter from us stating that we had received her cheque but didn’t know what it was for.

‘Yes,’ I told her, ‘we’ve received your cheque, but you didn’t attach an application or reply slip or renewal, so we don’t know what you’ve sent it in for.’

‘I can’t remember,’ she told me.

‘Well we haven’t got a clue, so we’ll send it back to you. You can send it back when you’ve remembered what it’s for, and don’t forget to mention it when you send the cheque back.’

Or how about the woman who phoned in asking about a particular policy that is on special offer on the internet. I informed her there was an offer on but she could only set it up online.

‘I don’t want to set up a policy online. How much is it over the phone?’

‘It’s £17 a month over the phone and £13 on the net at the moment.’ I told her.

‘I’ll do it over the phone,’ she announced.

So be it. It’s the customer’s choice!

Or, how about the guy who was trying to find the details of his boiler. He told me the model of it, a model I knew quite well. I asked if there was anything else on the boiler as I needed the make.

‘No. There’s nothing else on the boiler. Where will I find the make?’

‘Does it say…on the boiler?’ I asked, even though he’d said there was nothing else on there.

‘Oh, yes. It does say that. Now where will I find the make?’

And, of course, I also make mistakes. I think one of the most common mistakes made by myself and my colleagues is getting the gender of a customer wrong. Because we deal with people on the phone and not face-to-face it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether the person is male or female. Customers often give just initial and surname. Most people would probably think that it’s quite simple to just ask, ‘what’s your title?’ Trust me, it’s not simple. Most of our customers don’t know what ‘title’ means. And when you ask, ‘is it mr, mrs, dr, professor…’ and are answered again with initial and surname you just give it up as a complete waste of time.

Sometimes getting details off customers is the hardest job of all.

Margaret Road Wednesbury WS10 7QT 07505067286 By appointment only, so please contact me to discuss available times.