Hard To Believe

If I didn’t work in a call centre I would find the following very hard to believe. However, the following experiences from myself and my colleagues are, unfortunately, true.

Agent: What model of boiler do you have?
Customer: It’s a shiny white one.

Agent: How would you like to pay?
Customer: You can use the cheque I sent in last year for this years payment as well.

Agent: What model of boiler do you have?
Customer: You should know. Your husband installed it.
Agent: My husband does not install boilers.
Customer: Well, your son then!

Agent (for the 3rd time): Can I have your address please?
Customer: Oh don’t you have it?
Silence
Agent (for the 4th time): Can. I. Have. Your. Address. Please?

Names have been changed in the following to protect the guilty.
Agent: Can I take your name please?
Customer: It’s Becky.
Agent: Surname?
Customer: Martin.
Agent: The policy is under a different name could I please speak to that person?
Customer: I’m the policy holder.
Agent: The name on the policy is Miranda Dickson, so if you are the policy holder who is Becky Martin?
Customer: That is my work colleague.

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Sniffing!

There are quite a few people suffering at the moment whether it’s with hay fever or flue-like problems. Some people don’t seem to know what a tissue or handkerchief is, however. I’ve had a few people calling me who have been sniffing down the phone. It’s horrible. It’s disgusting. It’s sickening. One of the days I’m going to puke all over the phone.

You can hear if the person is bunged up – the sniff is dry and prolonged. And you can hear if they have a runny nose – it’s shorter, fuller, louder, and nauseating!

Please people if you are phoning me, please, please, please, blow your nose before hand.

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Non-Advised Sales

We are non-advised sales at my company. This means that we cannot give advise on the suitability of a product for a customer. We can ask questions to try and point the customer in the right direction, or to perhaps jog their mind, but ultimately it has to be the customer’s decision on whether something is right for them or not. Sometimes it can be more than difficult.

‘I had a letter about (our company). I just want the price.’ He mumbled.

‘Do you have the reference off the letter?’ I asked.

‘No. Letter about (our company). Just want price.’ He mumbled again.

‘Well you are through to (company name), so what do you want the price on?’

‘Want the price for insurance.’

‘Which insurance?’ I persevered.

(company name)

‘We do a lot of different insurance products. What do you want to get covered?’

(company name)‘ He repeated.

‘What does the letter say?’ I tried a different tactic.

‘Tells me about (company name), so I want the price.’

Sometimes it’s just best to end the call. I politely told him to decide what he wanted to get covered in his home, to find the reference on the letter, to read the letter, and then to call us back.

If he had rung a company that was not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (luckily we are) then the agent would probably have seen this as a prime opportunity to flog every product on their books. Money for the business but certainly not good for a customer who so obviously has no understanding of why he is ringing.

And there are still some insurance companies that are not regulated by the FCA. So my advice – while I’m not at work – is to know exactly what you want before you ring any company, and make sure you read their literature from cover to cover.


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What’s Best?

A woman called today not sure of which policy she wanted or what was best for her. I gave her details of the policies in question and asked which she favoured.

‘Oh I don’t know.’ She said. ‘I don’t know what’s best for me. What would you suggest?’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘I can’t give you advise as I don’t know anything about your property, so I won’t know what’s best for it.’

‘Well I don’t know either!’ She said indignantly.

‘But you live there!’ I reminded her.

Surely a homeowner will know about their property? Surely a homeowner will know what insurance they have or don’t have? Or am I being naïve again? Answers on a postcard…


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Mystery Shoppers

A few of my colleagues and I believe that we have had a spate of mystery shoppers phoning us. There have been a number of potential customers ringing up and asking every question under the sun about two or three policies. The questions range from the utterly ridiculous to extremely technological. Definitely not our normal customers who tend to ask questions when they can’t be bothered to read the mailing that has been sent to them. Or the customers who look things up on the internet but can’t be bothered to actually read the information in front of them. No, definitely not our normal customers.

Occasionally we get a customer who knows exactly what they want and what questions they need to ask. This is usually about one policy and they are very specific about what they need to know. They are very different from the mystery shoppers.

The mystery shoppers will start with a basic policy that doesn’t cover too much. They’ll ask some very standard questions about the price, the length of time before cover begins, what’s included, the cancellation period. They will then ask a couple of technological questions about the policy. They then change direction and begin speaking about an upgraded policy, asking questions that are specific to different areas of the upgrade.  These questions are usually too specific to be our standard customers’ questions.

The next tactic is to bring in a third policy and ask a few questions about that. Then the interrogation starts. The questioning goes back and forth between all three policies and if we are not careful we get confused and say the wrong thing. I always make sure what policy we are talking about before I answer, and my answer will always begin by referring back to the specific policy or element we are talking about.

The question is:  Are these mystery shoppers from our company? Or are they from another company? We don’t know the answer there. But one thing is for sure, if we answer incorrectly we are in serious trouble.

 


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Make Up Your Mind

The other day I had a woman call in who definitely didn’t know what she wanted. I had to be very careful as we are non-advised sales. All I can do is give information about our policies after the customer has said what they want covered.

Well this woman could not make up her mind at all. She had the internet up and was giving me the name of policies on our website. She kept changing her mind about the cover she was interested in, asking me questions after I had already given her the answers. I kept my patience all the way through.

Eventually she settled on the policy that she wanted, so I began to set it up. She then decided she didn’t want it to start straight away so I told her she would have to ring back on the day she wanted it to start. She wasn’t happy about this but agreed to it. The call went on for about 20 minutes with her chopping and changing her mind. And this is after all the information is on the website, which she had in front of her.

We don’t mind people calling up asking questions about policies, but when someone clearly has no idea what they actually want then we are they calling up? Surely if you own your own home and you are looking for insurance, you will have some idea of what you actually want? Or am I very naïve? Answers on a postcard….


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Questions

When a customer calls in to us they hear an IVR recording before they get through to an agent. It tells them the company name and gives a bit of information about the company. After this they get through to an agent who proceeds to answer any queries they may have. Answering questions is an everyday part of the job. There are multitudes of customers calling each and every day with all sorts of questions, from the most technical to the utterly sublime.

Here are a few of the questions we are faced with on a regular basis:

‘Do you know if it’s covered under my home insurance?’
‘I don’t know anything about your home insurance so I can’t possibly answer that question.’

‘£12 for the year? What does that mean?’
‘It means it’s £12 for the year.’ Was my reply.

‘I love the way it says from £2.50 a month. Ha ha..’
‘If you press the button where it says ‘find out more’ you’ll see it’s £2.50 month with an excess or £5 month without an excess. It’s all very clear.’

‘I’m calling about the plumbing cover. Is this building insurance?’
‘No. It’s plumbing cover. Building insurance covers your building. That’s why it’s called building insurance.’

‘I’m looking at the cover that’s £6 a month. Can you tell me the price?’
‘£6 a month just like it says.’

‘Is that the chiropodist?’

‘I’d like to order the next batch of bird seed for my budgie. Has is it come in yet?’

‘I take it you have my details in front of you?’
‘No. You haven’t even told me your name yet, never mind your address.’

‘There’s nothing wrong at the moment. I know it won’t cover pre-existing problems. I have a dripping tap – can you send someone out now?’

‘What do you mean ‘natural gas’?’
‘Is there a gas metre in your home?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. How am I going to know that?’

‘Can you tell me who my water board is?’

‘Can you put me through to an overseas number?’

‘I’m trying to get through to…but they’ve got an 0845 number. Yours is a Freephone number, so can you put me through?’

And I work for an insurance company.

Full Moon Time Again!

Well here we are again, another full moon and more memorable calls. Take the lady who called me about our plumbing insurance policy…

‘What does it cover?’ She asked me.

I gave her a list of examples and told her that it covered the internal plumbing and the sewerage system, where both the internal drains and the external drains were covered.

‘Does it cover the drain outside?’

‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Both the internal and the external drains are covered. It doesn’t cover the fresh water supply pipe but the sewerage drain is covered.’ I hoped this was a bit clearer for her.

‘I don’t understand what you mean.’

‘It covers the pipe that takes the waste away from your house.’

‘It’s really not clear.’ She said. ‘I’m really not following you.’

‘It covers the pipe that takes the sewerage from you toilet. The pipe you wouldn’t drink from.’ She understood that.

She then asked how it was paid and could she pay monthly? I explained that she could pay by card or direct debit over the phone, so monthly direct debit was fine.

‘Does that mean that I’ll have to phone every month to pay?’

I had actually decided not to set up anything for this person earlier in the call, due to the questions she was asking me. She clearly did not know what she was doing. She settled for an enquiry pack to be sent out before buying.

Tuesdays calls have been the worst this week. About 90% of the customers have been asking weird and wonderful questions, especially after I’ve already given them the answer. I just hope the rest of the week is better.

Customer Attitude

We’ve noticed a change in customer attitude during the last few weeks. It’s probably due to the amount of information in the media about various companies miss-selling, and several companies being fined by the Financial Conduct Authority. But the attitude is not pleasant.

Several of us have had customers coming through saying that they want investigations into their policy being miss-sold. I asked one woman why she thought it may have been miss-sold. She said it was because she had received a lot of phone calls from companies offering her various things so she didn’t know what she was doing. Is it really our fault if she doesn’t know what she’s doing? Various companies is not one company is it?

Many people are coming through and complaining about the tone of our voice, or our attitude, or how unhelpful we are. It’s usually because we can’t give them the answer they want, or we can’t tell them what policy they need. Well how can we? Seriously. We don’t know what insurance they may already have, or what they need to get covered in their house. This is for the homeowner to know. It is for the customer to tell us what they want covered. Many of them seem to be unable to do this.

They’re yelling at us because we can’t discuss someone else’s policy details with them, or because they are not covered for something they have a problem with, or because they haven’t bothered to read the documents. Yes. It’s all our fault.

We’re regulated by the FCA so we have to abide by those regulations, such as getting a policy holders permission before discussing policy details with anyone else, or stating clearly in the documents what is covered and what is not covered. We also give an explanation in the mailings that are sent out, and we run through a lot of information when setting up the policy over the phone. All of this was done by the FCA to make sure that things were done fairly for the customer. In other words to ensure that the customer can buy safely and with everything up front and in detail, so they know what they are getting. Of course it doesn’t mean that the customer will read the information or will listen to what they are being told. Far from it at times.

Maybe if people stopped paying so much attention to the media and more attention to documents that are sent to them, their own property, their families, maybe then they’d realise that things are being done with regards to their well being. Maybe if the government put more into the education of this country then more people would be able to think for themselves. Just maybe.

 

Phone Etiquette Part 2

Continued…

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.

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