We’re Closed!

Unfortunately I had to work this Saturday. Right at the end of my shift I had a customer ringing to take out a policy that I don’t deal with. I’m not authorised to set it up so would have been in serious trouble if I had done so. However, as I explained to the customer, the department that could set this policy up had closed – and they were all walking out. Don’t blame them. End of their shift and they have homes to get to.

This particular customer would not accept that we were closed. No. She was insisting that there was someone there who could set the policy up for. After explaining to her several times that she would have to phone back another time, and she not accepting what I was saying, I got fed up with it. I told her I could put her through to that department but they were closed so would not answer her call.

‘Put me through there!’ She demanded. So I did. Then I went home.

I’m expecting her to call back on Monday and lodge a complaint. But how many times do I have to tell someone that there is no one there to help them? Did she think I was lying? What possible reason would I have to lie? All of our documents state our opening times, so if someone wants to ring at closing time then they must be prepared not to get any help.

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Pay Attention!

We frequently get customers who can’t be bothered to pay attention to the details we give them. They’ll call up to take a policy and tell us to ‘get on with it’ as they have the information on the letter we sent them. If we ask whether they’ve read the letter the answer is usually ‘no’. But they’re usually too busy eating their lunch or watching TV to be bothered listening to important information.

We even get the smart alecs who put the phone down and walk away while we give legal information. It’s great when they call up complaining they weren’t told something. We can send them a very nice recording on CD of the call, so they can hear themselves walking off. Lovely!

There’s always the other side of the coin. We sometimes get parents or grandparents calling up with a crying child in the room. There’s often no other adult present. I’m frequently heard asking the customer if they would like to see to the child and ring us back later. It’s amazing how many of them say the child is ok. I feel like screaming at them! Or reminding them that I have their name and address and could report them for neglect. Bet they didn’t think of that.


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Wrong Numbers

We get a lot of wrong numbers coming through at the call centre. Most of them don’t bother us at all. The customer apologises and redials. However, the ones that do annoy us are just like the one I had today.

CUSTOMER: ‘I’m ringing on behalf of Mr…. You installed a boiler in his flat and you’ve left a load of rubbish there. When are you going to move it?’

ME: ‘We don’t install boilers. How did it for you?’

CUSTOMER: ‘… did it.’

ME: ‘Well, why don’t ring that company? You may get an answer if you ask the people who actually did the job.’

CUSTOMER: ‘Why can’t you do it?’

ME: ‘Because we are not…, and we didn’t do the job. May I suggest that you ring the right people.’

Fortunately these type of calls don’t happen that often. Most people are sensible enough to get the number for the company they wish to speak to, and not whatever number that just happens to appear first.

 


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Phoning While Driving

We have many customers who phone us while driving.

‘I’m on hands-free.’ They say.

Now, it is against the law in the UK to be using a hand-held phone while driving, stopped at traffic lights, or in a traffic queue. It can be 3 penalty points and £100 fine minimum, and £1000 fine and disqualification maximum. Buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum of £2500 fine. You can only legally use a hand-held device for calling 999 or 112 in an emergency situation and it is unsafe or impractical to stop, or you are safely parked.

It is legal to use hands-free phones, sat navs or 2-way radios while driving. However, if the police think you are distracted then you can still be stopped and penalised.

All sounds well and good? Well take a further look at using hands-free…

When you make a phone call you have to input the number, whether it’s the whole number or a speed dial number, or a name. This requires a thought process and you looking at the device to punch in the right digit. You are distracted from driving.

If you are calling a company for some kind of service, our call centre for instance, then you are thinking about the reason you are calling, what information do you need, what information do we need, etc. Your focus is on the call not on your driving. You are distracted.

Although using a hands-free device is legal, I resent the fact that some people are phoning me while driving. It puts unnecessary and unwanted responsibility on to me. You may ask what I mean by this. Very simple. If you have an accident while phoning me while you are driving, then how do you think I’m going to feel? If you don’t know the answer to this, then let me put it in a different way.

Say you are sitting at home and your partner, son, daughter, calls you while they are driving. They are on a hands-free device. Perfectly legal. While talking to you they have a bad accident. You have been talking to them knowing that they are driving. You have distracted them. You are partly responsible for the accident. How are you going to feel?

Needless to say that if you phone me while driving, regardless of whether you are on a hands-free device or not, I’m not going to continue with the call. It is wrong of you to expect me to take responsibility for any accident you may have while you are distracted. If you wish to kill yourself do it in your own time, not mine. If you wish to kill other people then you’ve clearly got no conscience.

If you are driving do not make phone calls.

 

 

 

 


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Call Centre Hassles

We have many hassles at the call centre, not just the normal job pains. Most of the hassles are from the various calls we take day in and day out.

At 8pm closing: ‘I know you close now and I’m sorry to trouble you, but could you just set up three policies for me. I know exactly what I want.’ (I know what I’d like to give you.)

‘I’m expecting an engineer from…(our competitor). Could you tell me when he’s coming?’ (Try ringing them.)

‘You’ve put the price up. This is extortionate! I’m a pensioner and can’t possibly afford this. This is just daylight robbery!’ (It’s gone up by 50p for the whole year!)

‘I’m not happy about this renewal price. You’ve put the price up by 10.257%. Can you justify this?’(Thanks for being so specific. Yes we can justify it. This is a business not a charity. We can put the prices up whenever we damn well feel like it.)

‘I want to take out a policy but I don’t have my bank details with me. If you set it up now I’ll phone later to pay.’ (Like hell I will.)

‘I want a job doing. A blow job.’ (That’s fine. I bite.)

‘What underwear are you wearing?’ (The colour wouldn’t suit you mate.)

Oh what fun we have!


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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.

Long Weekend Over

Well this lovely, long bank holiday weekend has now finished and I’m back at work. And of course today was crazy! Call after call after call. Some pleasant, some downright awkward, and some unbelievably stupid.

I also had a few people trying very hard to hide their accent and speak in a posh voice. We get this from time to time. Nothing wrong with it at all. There are times when each of us try to speak better, for instance if we’re ringing the bank manager. You can always tell when someone is trying to get their pronunciation and grammar right on the phone. There’s a lot of ‘Ers’ and ‘Ahrs’, a lot of clearing the throat, and the customer always seems to have difficulty telling us what they actually want. If they spoke as they normally would they’d get to the point quicker and save a lot of time.

I also had the obligatory internet call. This is where the customer is looking at the internet when they decide to call. It’s always the same procedure. They tell me they want a quote on a particular policy. I ask them how they heard about it. They tell me they’re looking at it on the internet, to which I ask them for the name of the cover. They rarely know the name even though it is on the web page that they are looking at, but they can always tell me the price. So they’ll say something like ‘I’m looking at the £60 cover without excess’.

‘Ok, I know which one it is now. How can I help you with this?’

‘Can you give me a quote?’

‘It’s the price that you’re looking at.’ Is my normal answer.

Chinese Whispers

I have a friend who whispers on the phone. She even whispers when there is no one else in the house. I find it infuriating if I’m on the other end of the phone.

We get a few customers who like to whisper too. We have to turn the volume up on the phone to hear what they are saying. But every background noise, cough, sniff, etc, comes through like a fog horn almost bursting our ear drums. I remember on the one call the woman cleared her throat and it was so loud after having to turn up the volume that I snatched my headphones off and flung them across the desk.

‘Ahhh! My ears!’ I yelled. The customer did not apologise. Nor did she stop whispering. What a bitch!

Why do people need to whisper? Is it because they don’t want someone to hear them? Well why not ring at a different time? If it’s your family then they probably know about your insurance. If it’s visitors then what are you doing phoning an insurance company when people have come to see you? That is just plain rude. Are you whispering because you are at work? Don’t you want the boss to hear? Then what are you doing making personal phone calls while you are work? Wait for your lunch or break when you won’t have to whisper.

Let’s face it, if I can’t hear you properly then you are not going to receive correct information to your questions. If I can’t hear you I may be setting up a policy that is different to the one that you called about. Maybe a significantly more expensive policy.

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.

 

Your Address

If you phone me up at the call centre one of the things I will ask you for is your address. This is part of the Data Protection which we have to comply with.

About 30% of the answers I get are the actual address. That is the full address. The other 70% is anything but. Here are some of the scenarios:

1)
‘Can I have your address please?’
‘Mr J S…’
‘And the address?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And…?’

2)
‘Can I have your address please?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And where is that?’

3)
‘Can I have your FULL address please?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And…?’

4)
‘Can I have your address please?’
‘London.’
‘And whereabouts in London might that be?’

5)
‘Can I have your full address please?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And where is that?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘But where is it?’
‘It’s Mr J S… from 2 Dumb Street.’
‘If I put 2 Dumb Street and your name on an envelope I doubt that it will get to you. So what is the rest of the address?’
‘I’ve just told you. I don’t know what you are talking about.’
‘Where is 2 Dumb Street? Is it England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Mars, India, the Moon? Where is it?’
‘Oh.’

The above are based on actual calls. I say based as names and addresses are obviously not included for real!

I think that most people should know their address. The exclusions would be the very young, people with extreme disabilities, or possibly someone that has just moved into the property – but they would more than likely have it written down somewhere, such as on the contracts they have signed when they purchased the property. Basically there is no excuse for the majority of people for not knowing their address. Whether it’s laziness or just plain stupidity I don’t know.

For most occasions the first line of the address and the postcode are sufficient to find the rest of the details. But for security purposes the full address is always better.

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