A couple of months ago I was pushed over the edge by an irate customer. Not a good thing to happen. The customer wanted to vent feelings of frustration and I was the unlucky person who answered the call. I was asked to explain what she should do when something wasn’t covered under the policy. Unfortunately I am not able to advise so she wasn’t at all happy about that.
The more I tried to explain about the regulations I have to follow the angrier she got. She raised her voice. I raised my voice. I then threatened to cut her off. She hung up. She then phoned back and complained about me. I got into trouble – disciplinary and verbal warning.
I have to wait until August for it to be lifted off my file. In the meantime I’m having extra coaching. I have also decided to try and have a more positive mind set as I have been a bit down in the dumps for a few months and it’s time I pulled myself back up. Time for positive transformation.
I’ve never had a disciplinary before – never in my whole working life. That’s no mean feat. And to get a disciplinary and a verbal warning together was a big wake up call. I had to do something to make sure that a customer didn’t push the wrong buttons again.
So I’ve begun to read a few books about the Law of Attraction. Basically if you think positive, speak positive, act positive, then you will automatically attract positive. If you think negative, speak negative, act negative, then you will attract negative. Sound simple? Give it a go. It’s surprising how many times we are thinking negatively. Someone may annoy us but instead of saying anything we ‘let it go’. But we don’t let go of it, because we play it over and over in our heads. Then there’s all the negative moaning we do: ‘It’s cold.’ ‘It’s too hot.’ ‘That woman’s wearing strange clothes.’ ‘That bloke is too loud.’ ‘Why I am I being bothered?’ The list goes on…
I am in the process of realising how negative I can actually be. It’s also made me realise how negative people around me are. So I am in the ‘realisation period’, as I call it. The very beginning of changing my outlook.
I’ve tried a few things to look on the positive side. One book suggested a journal to list the things that ‘have happened’ the next day. That’s right – you write it as if it has already happened. The difference is that you write everything in a very positive way: any meetings you have end the way you want; public transport is running on time with no problems; you get to work on time; disagreements are sorted out amicably; you get the deal you have been working on. Get the picture? Well I’ve been giving this a go, and quite a bit of it has worked – as long as you keep a positive mind set.
I’ve noticed that as soon as I begin to moan about something I get a bad call. If I start worrying about something I get a bad call. I begin to think about something that cheers me up and I get a lovely friendly person calling me. I’m thinking that this positive mind set theory is brilliant. I’m going to continue and see where it leads me – a big lottery win is on the list.
My company is doing a lot at the moment to improve the conditions at work, and make it more enjoyable for the staff. They’ve got us a table football game, music as we come into work, a pool table, a play station, and a box full of games. And this is only the start.
Our break area is now more of a games room. It can get quite noisy as people – mainly the guys – get quite competitive and start cheering as they compete against each other. This has annoyed a few people who like to eat their lunch in peace and there has been a few complaints.
I think that there are a few simple things that can be done that may help a little. There’s a blind that can be pulled across the centre of the break room, the doors at either end could be kept shut so that the noise doesn’t affect people on the phones, and people could be a little more considerate and just be a bit quieter. Very simple.
My worry is that people will be complaining too much and the powers-that-be will turn around and say ‘ok we’ll remove it all’. After all if you’re trying to help someone and that person is full of criticism for what you’re doing, then you would walk away and leave them to their own devices, wouldn’t you?
There are complaints that these games are for the men only. Well they are for everyone. The women can use these items as well – if they want to. I don’t like table football, but I’m not going to start complaining that it’s only for the guys because I don’t want to use it. That would just be churlish.
I think it’s great that we’ve got these things. There are many companies out there that don’t have anything like this. If people show their gratitude then they would get a lot more. I know the company is planning to give us more. But if the complaints continue then that may well change.
This is a poem I wrote about my time in the call centre. I have removed any reference to the company name and I’ve also removed one of the verses. Have to keep references to the company out otherwise I’m in trouble!
WORKING IN THE CALL CENTRE
The call centre is where I’m found,
Over 11 years now, but where am I bound?
Through the highs and lows, the ups and the downs,
I’m still sitting here in deepest Inbound.
Outbound was the start of this long career,
Followed by Inbounds phones ringing loud and clear.
Warranty was next for over four years,
But the cutting of commission brought on money fears.
Over to One Contact that promised finance secure,
But I’d have been better off filling my shoes with manure.
‘You’ll be helping out on Sales & Service’, I was told one day,
Little did I know that this was fortune looking my way.
So after a few years with Jobs On Demand,
I went to help out IDE and Builders in Inbound.
The commission was good arriving thick and fast,
But of course it was too good to last.
Many have gone and there’s new people in charge,
But the vans are still evident – the company’s at large.
The future looks cheery, rosey and bright
We are still here, not going from sight.
As for me, well who knows where I’ll end,
I’ve been round the block and round the bend.
Unless the company opens the door and gives me a kick,
I may still be here in my 90’s complete with walking stick.
Sekhmetscat 26 April 2014
I had the opportunity to sit with our digital chat guys today. I found it very interesting. They do very much the same as what I do but they do it online whereas I’m on the telephone.
Customers can chat on the net to one of our agents, and get questions answered about the policies they are looking at. Interestingly these digital guys also get the occasional rude customer! They also get the jokers, the let’s-get-straight-to-the-point customers, and the chat room addicts.
They can monitor the visitors on the website in depth. They know where they are logging on from, how many times each individual has visited the website, how long they’ve been on there, what pages they’re looking at. Sometimes it even provides the customers postcode.
Although I use the net a lot, I’m not a computer tech whiz at all. When I saw just how much information was being picked up from a customer logging on to our company site, it was surprising, if not a little intimidating. Do we want companies accessing so much information this easily? I get the feeling that this will become more in depth in the future as there doesn’t seem to be any legal restrictions on it. I bet some of the bigger companies are already picking up so much personal information about a customer they could probably have access to everything the customer has.
So be aware next time you’re on the net, of how much information you are giving away just be logging on to a website.
My call centre is all open plan. There are no divides between each person. We sit on bays that have 3 arms – a bit like the Isle of Man legs. There are 4 people on each arm. Then there is a team manager and a team coach, both of who sit at the end of one of the arms. There are roughly 35 bays on our floor – we’re on the top floor. In the middle is a big operations kiosk.
To say the place is noisy is an understatement. Some days you can’t hear yourself think never mind hearing the customers. And if anyone decides to stand behind you and chat, or if the person next to you decides to talk to someone on the other bay but couldn’t be bothered to walk over to them, well you’ve had it! In that situation it’s normally best to take off the head phones and sit and wait till they’ve moved on.
Worst of all is the managers. They just aren’t bothered if we’re on the phones or not. They stand behind us yelling that there are calls in the queue, or they’ll yell for someone to go see them, or they’ll decide to have meetings in the middle of the floor and will start clapping and cheering as loud as possible. They’re very annoying.
Being open plan also means that you get to see everything. Nothing is private. I’ve seen all sorts of things: people picking their nose; people scratching their bum; guys scratching their balls; women with their skirts in their nickers – I’m pretty sure there are some who don’t wear nickers. It’s not a pretty sight.
Gas central heating and boilers seem to be the most singular things that confuse a lot of people. Not everyone – there are those who know exactly what a boiler is, and all the details. It’s very refreshing when these people call in.
Every single day we get a least one person who calls in and the boiler or central heating is completely foreign to them. I always find it surprising that people don’t know whether their boiler is gas, electric or oil. Surely people know what bills they pay? Or do they have so much money that they can pay bills without even looking at them or being bothered what they are for? It must be great to be to be in that state of affairs, where money is no object.
If I had a £1 for the amount of times that I’ve had to ask someone if they have a gas metre on their property I’d be a millionaire now. And the amount of times a customer has said they don’t know – I’d have amassed thousands. How can you not know whether you have a gas metre or not? How can you not know whether or not you pay for oil delivery?
Surely if you own a property you would have some kind of knowledge of how it runs and works? Surely you would know what keeps it warm? Surely you would know what heats the water? Or am I being naïve?
This week at work was no different, except that I had a couple of other memorable calls around the boiler subject.
One person wanted us to go and do the annual service on the boiler. This is not unusual – we do many annual services. It would have been a straight forward request except that she wanted the engineer to turn the boiler on for her, as she didn’t know how to do it. She thought that getting the service done would ensure that the engineer would have to turn the boiler on to check it was working! Why she didn’t just read the booklet that comes with the boiler I really couldn’t answer.
Then there was the guy who wanted to take out a policy for his central heating. I asked if there was anything wrong with the boiler. The answer was a firm no. The boiler was working fine and there was no problem whatsoever. A bit further into the call I began to get suspicious so I asked again.
‘No, there’s nothing wrong with the boiler. I just can’t turn it on.’
I’ve not yet been asked for an electrician to show someone how to switch on a light – change the light bulb, yes – but not switch on the light. Time yet.