Conversations With Customer Service
Call Centre Humour
People who work in call centres often have very strange senses of humour. I acknowledge that I am no exception. I will try to keep this article on things that most of the general population will find funny. Keep in mind I am a little brain damaged after all that so something bizarre might slip in.
These stories come from my own personal experience. There is standard fare out there. I'm sure everyone have heard about computer technical support being called because of broken coffee cup holders (CD drive). Another favorite is the new computer user having trouble starting. When asked to open windows they leave the computer for awhile opening their windows.
Hope my readers enjoy these as much as I enjoy the memories.
Drunk Credit Card Application
This call came in late at night. The phones were so quiet that the whole department got to listen to me in action on this one. It lasted approximately an hour (Way longer than it should).
The man was obviously drunk and I doubt he even vaguely remembered the call in the morning. I wasn't allowed to point that fact out and refuse to help him. I wasn't worried. What are the chances a drunk is going to get all the way through the process?
First thing we have to do is collect the necessary personal information. He argued belligerently for awhile about giving private information over the phone not because he didn't want to provide it but because his addled mind found giving me a hard time highly entertaining. I'm surprised we even got through that. Every time I offered to bail out, he calmed down and continued on.
After filling out the initial form, sometimes the system will offer security questions provided by the credit reporting agencies. He had to go through that. I smiled when they came up figuring there was no way he would agree to answer the questions or he'd get them wrong and we'd be done. He again was deliberately difficult but he passed the questions.
Last step was reading the legal disclosure before submitting the application. This is long and boring. He kept interrupting me asking idiotic questions. At the end I thought for sure he was going to decide not to submit the application, I've had lots of customer bail out at that point. He surprised me by saying he wanted to go ahead.
Everybody sitting around me about fell on the floor, first in shock and then with laughter. The man's application came back fully approved. I wonder what he thought when his card arrived in the mail.
Several team mates congratulated me on not losing my cool on the call.
My Cell Phone Doesn't Work
Yes this really happened. Working for a cell phone company, I generally liked troubleshooting calls far more than billing issues. This one left me amused for the rest of the day and it still brings a smile to my face.
My poor customer couldn't seem to make or receive any calls all day to that point. So I started into my standard troubleshooting procedures.
"Power the phone off and then on again. Once it is fully powered up press the menu key and tell me what it says on the screen of your phone."
"The display right above your keypad."
"I don't see any display."
I was baffled and asked what brand of phone she had in her hand. That turned out to be the right question. The brand she answered with does not make cell phones. Turns out she grabbed the TV remote control instead of her phone as she ran out the door that morning. I wonder if her husband called technical support for the TV complaining that he couldn't change the channels.
I was training to take credit card applications with an experienced representative and we had ourselves a couple of good laughs.
Early in the day a young lady called in to apply for a card. For her job title, she called herself a freelance dancer. I would have bought that except she did her dancing near Pearson International Airport just outside of Toronto. That part of Mississauga is well known for its strip clubs. I'm a freelance writer and you're a freelance dancer. I'll grant you that. Dancing without clothes - you can't get any freer than that. Hey everyone needs credit cards. Right?
Later that same day we get a call from some young tough guy. He worked in security. Turns out he was a bouncer in a club in that same area protecting freelance dancers from drunkards. What are the chances? I told my training partner that it was possible that these two customers had a professional relationship.
Funniest thing is my drunk credit card applicant was from that area too. I've touched so many parts of their economy.
Title or Name
How do you prefer to addressed by customer service people.
The Trap Was Laid and I Walked Right Into It
Addressing female customers can be a minefield, especially for a male customer service representatives. Respectful titles and terms can easily offend when used with the wrong customer. Madame and Ma'am are definite problems. Mrs. can get you a verbal dressing down if your customer is single or is offended by something she regards as a subservient title. Miss will get you in a whole lot of hot water as well. I settled on Ms. If I didn't put much emphasis on it the customer would hear what they wanted. I never saw this one coming though.
My customer's last name was Hellenius.
"And how may I help you today, Ms. Hellenius."
My mind did a double take. Pico, you just called a customer miscellaneous. I can't believe you just did that. I stammered onward, the customer's tone suggested that this was not the first time she'd been called that and she was not amused.
I Could Not Possibly Make This Stuff Up
Young man called me to apply for a credit card and told me his last name was Fryingpan. Fryingpan? Are you kidding me. I initially thought he was putting me on. He passed security identification questions though. Out of curiosity I did a search of that last name on Facebook. Sure enough there are a whole bunch of Fryingpans living in Alberta, Canada.
That by far isn't the only unusual last name that I've come across, Little Moustache, Weasel Fat, Big Ornery Horse, as well as a few that can't be printed in this kind of article without risking offending someone. How do people end up with these names? It was a challenge to keep a straight face while serving some of these customers.
I have decided that Mr. Fryingpan and Ms. Weasel Fat could possibly end up in an interesting relationship.
Dessert Phonetic Alphabet
Over a phone (especially a cell phone) letters when spelling often sound alike. To overcome that most people are familiar with phonetic alphabets.
I know right away when I have a military man on the phone. That's B like Bravo. A like Alpha etc. Most other people will use first names. N like Norman and M like Mary.
Some people... I have no idea what they are doing. Something like the G like Deena man. Took a long time to get the spellings for all his information.
My favorite was from an immigrant woman from Africa. If I would take a guess, I think she came from Nigeria originally. Bright sunny personality and every letter was matched with a dessert. C like cake, I like ice cream. I tried to steer her to healthier choice by offering A like apple. Her name was very long and took a lot of spelling. I think by the end of the call she had to be pushing three hundred pounds.