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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Why Work In A Call Centre?

I began to write a blog about the day to day experience of my working life. I’ve been working at the call centre for over 11 years now and this seemed like a good way of getting rid of stress and of laughing at some of the stupid things that can happen at work.

I have never mentioned the name of the company I work for – I don’t particularly want to be on the end of a lawsuit, although I sometimes think that being fired would come in very handy. I also don’t mention the names of any colleagues or customers for the same reason. Saying that I think I manage to convey what is going on reasonably well.

You may wonder why I’m working in a call centre. Well the reason is very simple. I got sick of being treated like a pack horse and being plied with responsibility while being paid peanuts.

I began my working life as an office junior after a year at secretarial college. I picked up the ropes very quickly and eight months later I landed a job as branch secretary/PA to general manager at a different company. A few years later I left to have my daughter.

After maternity I began working at a foundry as a buying assistant/materials controller. I loved it. I stayed for several years but in the end it was the pay that made me look elsewhere. Along came the position of secretary to three lawyers. After a few years there I moved on to a new company as materials controller. It was here that I had my eyes opened.

I remember one of the foreman on the shop floor complaining about his pay. He was in charge of people using machinery and would he would let me know if any raw materials were running low. He showed me his pay slip and said it was for one week but the company had short paid him. They were paying him more in one week then what I got for the month and I was far more qualified. I then found out that the guy who swept the shop floor and did the occasional delivery was on more than double what I was receiving. He had no qualifications whatsoever except a driving licence.

Well that did it. I wondered why I was working for pennies and being laden with so much responsibility. So I began to look at the job market. Guess what? I found a part-time job inputting data for the same money I was getting as materials controller. I went for it. Typing in figures and having my afternoons free. And it was a five-minute walk from where I lived.

After that I went into sales. I realised that this was where the money was and it was up to me to put the work in. No responsibility and I could double my basic pay easily every month with commission. I’ve done this now for several years.

Of course all good things come to an end. The commission was not compulsory so it could be removed at any time. Now the Financial Conduct Authority no longer want sales staff rewarded by monetary means, so the commission has disappeared.

Working in the call centre is no longer as profitable as it once was.

Stupidity

I had a very nice gentleman phone me today. A professional person from a respected profession. He was ringing about a particular policy we offer.

I’ve been very careful not to mention the company I work for during my blogs, or say anything that could relate to the company. People who work there obviously spot the things I’m talking about, but anyone outside would not know. It could get me into trouble if I make mention of them or give anything away. So for ambiguous purposes I will use a colour!

‘I’m calling about the Yellow policy’, said Mr A. ‘It only covers yellow, but you probably won’t know about that.’

‘That’s why it’s called the Yellow policy’, I answered with the politest sarcasm.

I work for the company so of course I’m going to know. His patronising back fired. He might think he’s speaking to a dumb-ass call centre agent, but he proved to be the biggest dumb-ass.

Another customer, also very polite and friendly, rang to ask about a mailing she had received.

‘I’m reading here about your Purple cover. This letter says it covers…Is that right?’

Firstly we can’t put anything false in the adverts. Boy would we be in trouble. Secondly what purpose would it serve. We want customers who stay with us. If they think we’ve lied they’ll be leaving in their droves. Thirdly, miss-selling is a big issue at the moment for many companies. Any company with half a brain would be training their staff to stay well away from miss-selling.

Of course the information in our adverts is correct. The problem is that many customers don’t bother reading it properly, or they need some kind of affirmation to give them the confidence of buying. There are too many people in this country who need other people to confirm to them that they are making the right choice. People need to stop being sheep. They need to start using their own minds and thinking for themselves.

November And December Chaos!

Well it’s that time of the year again. The month when companies want everything all at once. When they have loads of offers/sales and try to succeed in getting everything at once. My company is no exception. It’s total chaos. November and December chaos.

We’ve got mailings galore going out. Offers on the internet too. It’s crazy at the moment. So busy that we don’t have time to breathe, never mind think about what we’re doing. Of course it’s bringing out the silly questions and the annoying customers. It’s exhausting the agents and making us cranky and do stupid mistakes.

Friday was the worst day. I was ready to scream after one hour. At the end of the day I was ready to commit hari kari – and it wouldn’t have been on myself.

I asked a customer to confirm the address of the property covered. ‘Your address?’ He asked.

Another customer rang up complaining about an automatic renewal on his policy. He read the section out on the documents:

‘I states here that it will be an automatic renewal unless I advise you otherwise,’ he said. ‘I told the young man I didn’t want it automatically renewed, so why is it on auto renewal?’

‘It isn’t on auto renewal,’ I told him. ‘You the told the agent you didn’t want it and he’s removed it. You will have to contact us next year to renew.’

‘But it states it will be automatically renewed unless I tell you otherwise.’

‘Yes. You have already told us otherwise. My colleague has removed it.’

‘But it states here…’

I ended up explaining 6 times that he had already ‘advised us otherwise’, so the auto renewal had been removed. Eventually he got it.

It may not be a physical job, but it is very exhausting to deal with this day after day, especially when it’s busy. It’s mentally draining . Mind numbing. These last few weeks especially I have felt brain dead by the time I get home. I’m not sleeping, I’ve got a cold, I strained my shoulder, and I’ve been having stomach pains. On top of that two of my colleagues – in another department – have been annoying me. So much so that I’m ready to grab one of them and smash her head through nearest wall.

I’m definitely not in a good place mentally at the moment.

Another Day In Earthly Purgatory

Actually it wasn’t all that bad today. I even had my photo taken and my ID pass replaced. It’s not brilliant but it could have been far worse. My old one was extremely scratched and I most certainly don’t have wrinkles that bad.

I had yesterday off. It was my birthday. There was no way in hell I was spending my birthday at work. You feel bad enough getting older, but work ages me 20 years while I’m there. I lose them as soon as I walk through the door to go home. I can do without the premature aging when I’ve aged another year biologically.

After my previous post about safety, I forgot to mention that quite a few of us seem to get a call between 1 and 5 minutes before the end of our shift, and it’s often the same type of call – sales. I don’t believe in coincidences. The calls I get are always the same type of sales call, where I have to go through a few more details than normal. Sure enough the same thing happened today. However, the woman I was speaking to suddenly got a caller at her front door and didn’t want to stay on the phone. This left me with 3 minutes before I could leave.

Well, I certainly wasn’t prepared to take another call during those last three minutes, so I used the time to log some notes on the system. Of course this was interspersed with putting things away in my locker. I upped and left exactly at 5.30pm, with the nastiest look from a certain sales manager.

This is a particular sales manager who doesn’t seem to have any clue about employee laws. I reckon that sooner or later she is going to come off quite badly. Without going into full details because I’ve not got permission, she has actually put someones life in danger, medically speaking, and she’s got away with it. I don’t think that will happen twice.

Internet Sales

I frequently get people phoning up asking me what the price is of the policies on the internet. Not a strange request in itself, but many of them inform me that they have the web site up in front of them at the same time. The price is is in very large figures. Very clearly seen.

My answer frequently starts with: ‘As it states on the internet…’ Then I have to remind myself to be patient as some people are just thick. They can’t be blind as they tell me which policy they are interested in. The policy details are in a smaller font. If they can see the details then there is no reason for them not to see the price.

Do they think that I’m going to give them a different answer? Some of the policies are only available on the internet, not over the phone, so why would I be giving them a different price? Or are they hoping that I’ll offer them a discount? There’s no chance of that.

My Attitude Stinks

I work for a non-advised sales company. This means that I cannot advise a customer what is suitable for their needs. I actually think that this is the best sales method. Afterall, as a customer, you should know what is best for yourself and your home, and not rely on someone else to tell you.

Gone are the days when sales people could frighten, cajole or badger customers into making a purchase. Now the onus is well and truly on the customer. If they don’t know what they want then we cannot help them.

However, we still have potential customers ringing through, who expect us to tell them what is suitable for them. Yes, we have x-ray eyes and can see straight into their homes. We know exactly what insurance they already have and what they don’t have. Afterall, we are omnipotent. We know everything about the person calling us.

Think I’m being sarcastic? Well, I would hope so. But one such person called me during this past week. To top it off, this potential customer had been looking on the web at our insurance policies and requested a certain cover for his own home and his several rental properties.

Now we have a section on the web for landlords. This deals specifically with landlords policies. He quite clearly had not even looked at this section.

I informed the customer about these products to which he informed me that he had the landlords section open. I asked him what he wanted covered for his rental properties and he told me about a non-landlord cover.

I then explained that this particular cover was for where he lived himself and that it could only be set up online. He didn’t like this and had a go at me. I didn’t say anything – I had told him it was only available online so there was nothing more to say about it.

I then began to run through the landlords policies for him. Yet again he wasn’t happy. He wanted me to tell him which cover was the best for him. I explained that we are non-advised and that only he could decide what cover was best for his needs. All I could do was to explain the policies that we offer. This enraged him even further.

‘Your attitude stinks!’ He told me.

He proceeded to advise me that our competitor had given him lots of advice. I bet they had. They are also regulated by the FCA so work on a very similar basis to ourselves.

He then demanded to speak to a manager. I put him through. He complained about me not advising him which policy he should have. Of course, the manager told him exactly what I had told him. He wasn’t happy and hung up.

As sales staff we would very much like to bully people into taking a policy. We have targets. Badgering people and frightening them gets them to buy policies. However, we are not allowed to do this. This is for the customers benefit as well as ours.

Customers can be assured that when they ring insurance companies they are not going to be pestered into taking out cover. They can make a simple call to ask for a price and they now know that that is what they will receive and they will not be nagged into buying.

This is a much better way of doing things for everyone. Customers can feel more relaxed about making that phone call. So if my non-advised sales attitude stinks, then so be it.

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