Getting the Most from Your Call Center Customer Service Experience
Thank You for Calling... Please Hold!
Have you ever called a Customer Service Call Center and had an absolutely horrible experience? It is very easy just to blame this on the rudeness of the Call Center Representative, and while certainly that may be the case in some instances, there are flaws in this logic.
For one thing, it is a pretty safe bet that unless you are calling a debt collector, whoever runs the call center would have gone out of their way to avoid hiring rude people. And practically every call center has calls monitored through some means. One of the primary purpose of this is to weed out those who do not handle calls courteously.
Also, no one wants to have a bad day at work. So why would a call center employee go out of their way to maybe their callers upset or angry? The odds are good that if they are short with you, snap at you, or just generally seem to be irritated to have to speak with you, they were already having a bad day before you called.
You can always just accept this as the way things are and hope the representative gets caught on tape. Or you can make a complaint and hope the misery they caused you is returned to them. Or you can take a positive approach and try to make your call center experience more pleasant for yourself and the worker you deal with.
So Why Is The Representative Annoyed Anyway?
Before we get into what you might be able to do or not do in order to make your call experience more productive and less stressful, let's take a look at why that worker might be having a bad day to start with. We can begin by talking a look at the work environment these employees are usually in.
Most call centers either set up their reps (short for "representatives") either in cubicles or, even worse, just seated next to one another with no barriers between them.With cubicles, it is basically like working in a closet. Co-workers are blocked off to limit distractions but this also can make work a lonely place. The whole day is fluorescent lighting and blue or gray walls. No sunshine, no windows, no smiles to brighten the day.
But the other option is probably even worse. While the side-by-side method at least allows for a little human interaction, it can also drastically increase noise making it difficult for the rep to handle their own calls. It also makes it a group experience when someone has a bad call. And it gives the worker very little if any personal space.
Now that you know the conditions these workers face day after day, consider also that most call centers are primarily there to assist customers who are having some sort of difficulty or that wish to make a complaint. The old saying about the customer always being right is unfortunately a myth and these folks are the ones who have to explain that to a great number of callers. Obviously some of these calls are not going to go well.
It would be nice if the reps could just forget about that last call and move on and that is most likely exactly what they were trained to do. And for the most part they are probably successful, but in the end, they are only human and you just cannot always turn off a bad mood. So what should you do to turn a potential disaster into a positive endeavor?
There is no absolute set of rules for making your call center experience a positive worthwhile event, but I can offer some guidelines that will greatly improve the odds. Of course, you might always get that one representative who had such a bad call just before yours that there is just no way to improve their mood or maybe even that one guy that slipped through the hiring screening and is just there to make callers' lives miserable, but for the most part, these tips will improve your customer service experience and likely make the day better for the rep and future callers.
These are things you should do when calling a call center:
- When asked for your name, state your first and last name clearly.
- When asked for information such as phone numbers or addresses, be as concise as possible but do include area codes and zip codes.
- Avoid calling when there are distractions that prevent you from giving full attention to the call.
- Have paper and a writing utensil available in case you need to make notes or write down information.
- Write down questions you have before calling so that you will not forget anything during your call.
- Be patient with the rep as many things can affect how quickly information can be processed on any given day.
These are things you should not do when calling a call center:
- Do not spell your name, street address, city, etc. unless the rep asks you to. If information is already in the system, they may not need spelling and if information is being typed in you do not want to get ahead of or rush the rep to reduce the chances of errors. (The exception to this rule is if the rep has to look you up using your name and you have a name that is often spelled incorrectly or has more than one usual spellings such as Cathy/Kathy or Stephen/Steven.)
- Even if you are familiar with the process at a particular call center, do not give information until asked as you never know how quickly the rep's system is responding or how quickly the rep can process information.
- Do not call from a noisy area where background noise will make it difficult for you to hear.
- If you get a bad connection, disconnect the call and try again.
- While a sense of humor can be helpful, do not turn your call into a prank call or joke inappropriately.
A few other tips you might want to know...
- Yes, the rep can hear your spouse in the background. Yes, the rep can hear you yell at your kids. And yes, the rep can hear the toilet flush.
- Verification of callers is done for the caller's protection. Reps are required by policy and by law to do this.
- Remember that when you are irritated by having to give a few items of information to verify who you are, the rep may have had to ask for the same information from hundreds of irritated callers already that day.