I'm Never Going Back to Customer Service...
I Need A Manager!!
So lately, I've been wondering whether it's worse to be without a job and stable income, or have a steady paycheck at the expense of my sanity. My most recent position was in the customer service industry, working in a high-volume call center. I'd done that kind of work in the past, so I figured with the starting rate they were offering in addition to the opportunity for a benefits package, I might as well earn some money & take care of some debts, get a pet cat, etc.
Things were okay in the beginning, since all that was expected of me was to listen to lectures and take computerized tests for five weeks, with our last week being out on the live phones with learning coaches. I could pretty much tell then that this wasn't going to be a long-term solution to my earning-a-living problem. Problems began almost immediately with customers calling back in complaining about me, or quality coaches reporting every little misstep to my supervisor. I just gritted my teeth and kept my mind on the money and what it would allow me to do. However, when one hates what one does for a living (and one is doing it 40 or more hours a week) one quickly learns it to be very difficult to relax or enjoy anything you do or buy in your time off. I would come home angry, exhausted and with no drive to do anything that I used to be interested in like gaming, music or even watching TV. On my weekends off, all I would do is repeatedly stare at the clock & calendar, thinking about customers or quality coaches that had pissed me off in the previous week, or the customers that would piss me off in the coming week & how much time I had left before I was going to have to deal with it for another 40 hours all over again.
Time on the phones was more manageable when I was done with training, allowing substantial time for new-hires to go over notes, calls or other materials. However, once I was officially graduated from the 'step program' I was thrown on the live phones with barely more than a 30 min lunch (phone calls would often run over breaks). Being an introvert by nature, the constant interaction, even if indirect, was too over-stimulating. I would be talking to a pharmacy one minute, a regular customer the next, and still then a doctor's office or outside insurance carrier as if the first two weren't enough to deal with. Then I would be getting irate messages from other employees or supervisors about customers calling in about a ticket I had issued, and that only further added to the stress & distractions I was facing on my current call. I'm just like.. "well, you can see my notes, and you're the one talking to them now, right?" Geez!
Probably the biggest concern I had with the company at the time that I left was regarding the management/escalations structure in place. The managers would always tell us to handle the calls on our own, and even provided incentives for doing so. However, the proper way of transferring an unhappy customer was to call a 'Customer Specialist' and have them review the account with the customer before escalating directly to management. This would have been fine, if half of the 'Specialists' were actually willing to take a transfer call. Most of the time they would not, resulting in me repeating myself to the customer, calling the assist line again, and usually getting the same person or another specialist unwilling to take a transfer call. Then, I would just hang-up on the customer, pretending that the connection was lost or something.
I would have been fine with all of that, except that management was not. They started calling me into the office and bringing up those same phone calls I was unable to transfer to a specialist like the guidelines dictated. At first, I would just try to play dumb like I didn't know what they were talking about, or if I did I would just say that I had difficulty completing the transfer due to some "technical" glitch. Basically, it would always come back to me not doing the 'correct' thing no matter what the circumstances were or how crappy their system or policies were. It came down to me kissing their asses and "apologizing" to customers for things that were out of my control or not by my fault or facing the possibility of termination. I refused to do that. I felt like an idiot for even being in that situation to begin with. This is not the field of work I should be in. I was able to make it to my lunch break, and then I cleared-out my desk, turned in my badge & departed from the company.