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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Derogatory Additions To Names

I expect a lot of people have seen the news about a gentleman who had a derogatory addition to his surname. It was in the news recently and a great deal on social media. Not a nice thing to happen at all. I can’t see anyone enjoying getting a letter with that kind of thing on there. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often. Although saying that, there are many occurrences of letters being sent out to people who have passed away. Also offensive.

The media have been saying that this offensive addition to the gentleman’s surname was deliberate. But was it? From what I’ve read there is an investigation underway at the moment. But what possible reason would an agent have to do this? If the agent was someone who was just plain and straight forward prejudiced against skins of a particular colour, or particular religion, then surely it would have been spotted well before hand. I can’t see a large company keeping on an agent who is prejudiced, or in fact, a person applying to work at a multi-cultural company if they were prejudiced. Doesn’t make sense either way.

Working in a call centre myself I know first hand how bad it can be on the phones. I often have people coming through and I ask them for their name and haven’t got a clue what they’ve said. Whether it’s a bad line, a strong accent, speaking too quickly, or someone covering the mouth piece, there have been times where I’ve been completely stumped. I’ve begun the call by calling them what I thought they said only to be told quietly bluntly that I’m wrong!

Some customer don’t understand what ‘initial’ means. So when I ask for an initial they spell out their name. I’ve had customers give me their full names – first, middle, last – all in one breath. It can be quite difficult at times, and it’s very common for us to have to ask a customer to spell out their surname and then spell out their first name. Just so that we can understand them.

Is this what happened in this unfortunate case? Was it just a matter of the agent not understanding the customer? It’s interesting to note that at my company there is a split with what people think between those on the phones and that those who aren’t. Those of us on the phones are all saying this couldn’t possibly have been done deliberately – it’s just too easy for us to hear the wrong information. While those who are not on the phones are all saying it was deliberately done.

The only reason I can see for this to have been done deliberate is if the agent had just had enough. I’m not saying that this is what happened here. I don’t know. And I’m certainly not saying that this customer was aggressive. Again I don’t know. But having worked on the phones for so long I’ve had my fair share of abusive customers and it would be so easy to want to get my own back. I never have. But there have been times when the temptation has been very strong.

I had a customer complain that I was heavy breathing. I had a cold and because I was breathing through my mouth he could hear it. Another customer complained about the same thing with one of my colleagues who had asthma. This is blatant prejudice towards us when we are not well. One customer complained about a colleague who asked him to call back. He wanted to speak to an English person but everyone was on the phone as it was particularly busy. My Nigerian colleague asked him to call back later when it was a bit quieter and he may get an English person. He called back and complained about her. This again was prejudice.

What is annoying is that the company upholds the complaints from the customers. Customers come first. It should not be happening. Customers should not be treating agents in this manner. We are not pieces of dirt. Some customers are extremely offensive, aggressive, bullying, prejudicial, swearing, and downright nasty. Agents are human beings. I got to the end of my tether a few times. I got into trouble raising my voice to one woman who was insulting me and shouting at me. We can only take so much before we snap. Is this what happened in the news item recently? I will be very interested to see what the investigation uncovers.


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Customer Service

We frequently get comments on our customer service. Fortunately the majority are praiseworthy. We offer a survey after calls so that people can leave a comment on the customer service they have. Our operatives – many of whom have letters after their names – have extremely good comments.

Our company is very particular in the way we speak to customers.However, once in a while we get a negative comment. Here’s an example of a conversation one of my colleagues had with a customer, on a day that a local power cut had thrown all of our systems down.

‘I want to cancel my policy.’ Said the customer.

‘I’m afraid I can’t do anything at the moment as a local power cut has caused our systems to go down. Would you be able to call back later?’

‘Don’t you want to know why I’m cancelling?’

‘Normally I would ask you, but unfortunately our systems are down at the moment so I’m not able to do anything for you.’

‘It’s because you customer service is crap! You can’t do anything! If you want to phone me tomorrow you can…’ Customer slammed the phone down.

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Getting The Name Right

When of the worst things about working on the phones is that you can’t always hear the name of the customer correctly. This can happen for a number of reasons: The sound is sometimes quite when you first answer the phone, the line is distorted, you can’t tell whether it’s male or female, there’s a strong accent… The list goes on. It’s not uncommon to get the persons name wrong, and it can be downright embarrassing.

I’ve had people coming through with a high pitched voice and I sit there saying ‘Mrs…’ until they correct me with ‘Mr…’ Or someone with a very low voice telling me half way through the call that it’s ‘Mrs…’

It can also be quite funny. I had an agent from one of our partner companies calling me with a customer on hold. ‘Customer’s name is Zoy,’ she told me.

‘How do you spell that?’ I asked. ‘Is it Z O Y?’

‘No. It’s Z O E.’ She said.

Needless to say that it was a good job that I had asked.

Sometimes the customer has an accent and what they say sounds like something else. One customer I luckily had to transfer to another department. His name sounded like Fannybender. I didn’t fancy using that through the call. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get straight face.

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