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More Conversations With Customer Service
Another Collection of Call Centre Stories
This is a second collection of stories I've recovered from another website I write on along with some freshly remembered stories. If you like this, it is worth going to my portfolio on Hubpages by clicking my name in the author's box. There are several collections there featuring my brand of humour. Will be adding other collections in the future. Enjoy.
Green Minitch Time
Newly minted call centre with inexperienced representatives and inexperienced supervisors – a formula for some really entertaining moments. Prepaid cellphone customers were a snap to deal with. Most of the calls were just to add time to their phone. The upset callers invariably had some issue with how their minutes all got used up so fast.
It must have been within my first couple of weeks on the job when I got a guy complaining about the call log. The time stamps on our call logs were all in Greenwich Mean Time. Whose bright idea that was, I have no idea. That was an invitation to confusion. He said he could not have possibly made those calls because he was asleep at the time those calls were made.
With my several weeks of experience, I explained to him that we used Greenwich Mean Time which was a great deal different than the corresponding time in the United States. I thought I was making sense but he didn't want to buy it from me. He demanded a supervisor.
My supervisor of course was almost as green as I was. He took over the call and I got to stand around waiting to get my seat back, listening to the supervisor end of the conversation. He sounded totally full of crap. I probably did too but at least I knew what Greenwich Mean Time was called even if I didn't know how many hours different it was from say Eastern Standard. He kept telling the customer over and over about Green Minitch Time. I thought it was so funny that by the time he finished I was fit to bust.
Me and several other employees teased him about it mercilessly. When, for morale, the company wanted us to create team names, I suggested the Green Minitch Morons putting several us in stitches. The supervisor was a good sport about it though. Those were the days that call centre work was still fun for most of us.
How Can I Misdirect Your Call?
She sounded like a spunky seventy year old woman and she was livid. She was calling back because the previous representative, instead of transferring her to our receivables management department as requested, transferred her to a phone sex line.
Big companies should be very careful about choosing department phone numbers. Customer service representatives should be very careful about how they dial numbers when transferring customers. In this case I was already aware of the issue. Our receivables management number was almost the same as the phone sex company number. The difference was the two middle numbers in the last four digits of the phone number were reversed. That is a very easy mistake to make. I have no idea how many customers got misrouted to that number. Warm transfers would have nipped that one in the bud.
With my very upset customer, I played it a little risky and went the humour route. By the time we were halfway through the call, I think she had tears rolling down her face, she was laughing so hard. That made it far easier to apologize and explain what happened. I did note the complaint and made sure the proper people were notified.
"Thank you for calling (generic cellphone company). This is John. How may I help you?"
"Umm. My phone got wet."
"I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?"
"Well um er..."
"Let me guess. You dropped it in the toilet."
"How did you know?"
Well I wasn't really guessing because back when I was a customer service representative for a large cellphone provider, that's how most of them got a wet phone and if there was any hesitation or embarrassment my guess was a slamdunk.
Most of you are probably aware that water doesn't go well with delicate electronics. Water damage isn't covered by your cellphone warranty either. That accidental dunk though might not be the end of your phone. The odds are against you but there is a chance you can dry it out especially if it wasn't on at the time of the accident.
Take the battery and sim card out if that is possible. Remove any covers that are removable. Some will play a hairdryer on it for awhile. That might work but you will be holding that hairdryer for a long time. Moisture has this way of sneaking into every nook and cranny and it isn't that easy to chase it back out of there. Putting the hairdryer on a stand might be better in that it doesn't require as much patience.
The best solution is to lay the phone by a window in the sun where it doesn't get hot enough to overcook the phone. Leave it there for a week if need be. When you are sure it's thoroughly dry, put it all together and give it a try. You just might have saved buying yourself a new phone.
Friends I have spoken with also suggest putting the phone in a bag of white rice which acts as a desiccant. Never tried it myself but apparently it does work. Just don't eat the rice if your phone took a toilet swim
You can't always save the phone, but it is worth the effort. Replacement phones are often expensive.
One of my customers dropped hers in the port-a-potty and didn't want it anymore.
Can I Get a Cab?
How do people search for phone numbers? Working on the sales line for an after market tractor cab manufacturer you would not believe how many calls we got asking for a taxi to come pick somebody up.
On the surface this might look like an easy mistake to make, but it takes more than a little bit of inattention. First of all, if you found our phone number on the website. Did you somehow overlook all the pictures of tractors? Didn't the quoted pricing get your attention? Even the cheapest cabs are over a thousand dollars. Did you miss the fact that we are located in Canada? Boston, Massachusetts is quite a drive away. I don't remember a single one of those calls that was actually local. I don't think that the operator assistance feature would give you our number either.
I would have been happy to drive a tractor over and give somebody a lift. The only problem is we only sold the cab. We only had tractors on the premises when we were test fitting a new model and it didn't belong to us. We borrowed them from local dealers in exchange for some incentive or other. I rode my bicycle to work.
The Art of Mumbling
Speak loud enough but not too loud. Don't speak too quickly or too slowly. Enunciate your words carefully. Seven years of public speaking training from highschool through college. Spoke at church, filled in as a worship leader etc. Then I got a job in a call centre and had to relearn to mumble.
You read right. There is a time to mumble.
As a representative we are expected to greet our customers in a friendly manner and as soon as they tell us who they are we are expected to use their name. If we don't our quality scores suffer. I want good quality scores. I get good quality scores.
Sounds easy right? Wrong. Taxicab driver who barely speaks English calling to apply for a credit card from his taxi on a cheap cell phone with poor reception while serving customers trying to talk over his dispatch radio. No insult intended these guys hustle their butts off to make a living but...
"Could I have your first and last name please?"
Saying, "Pardon could you repeat that?" will get you nowhere. It could hurt your quality score. It'll definitely screw up your call handle time. My advice just respond back confidently with a very garbled, "And how can I help you today Mr. Marfinefefeemra Hebefindmaminav?" Trail off at the end of your words and you almost can't lose. In my experience only the first couple letters of each perceived word is important. Fifteen years in call centres and I think I can still count the number of times a customer has interrupted me to correct my pronunciation on my fingers. I've never been marked down for it. Even when the quality agents knew about my infamous trailing mumble.
I think it works because I sound confident and people hear what they want to hear. Customer wants to hear their name. Quality wants to hear me say it. Kind of sounds like I did, so everybody gives me the benefit of the doubt. Everybody is happy and I can move right on to taking care of the customer's questions or concerns.
My current employer wants us to build rapport with our customers and you would not believe how far an agreeable sounding mumbled conversation will get you. Got to be careful there though. Most of the time you do need to know what the customer is talking on about.
Mumble on all you mumblers!
How do you prefer to be served?
Assuming that your concerns and problems are being appropriately addressed. What style service to do you prefer from a customer service agent.
Call Centre Shooting Gallery
In an effort to improve morale in the call centre where I work, recognition for doing something great comes with a metallic helium balloon floating over your cubicle. So the whole call centre is slowly turning into a forest of these balloons.
Now I know this is going to sound a little redneck of me but I would love to sit there with a pellet gun shooting down all these balloons. In my defense, everyone I've mentioned this to would love to do the same. All of them were ladies and all of them want to upgrade the firepower. Granted I live in New Brunswick where hunter's camo is considered high fashion.
I can picture the aftermath of this one. Police and SWAT team vehicles in the parking lot, lights flashing, co workers milling around, reporter interviewing people. Sorry if this is a bit politically incorrect.
"Sergeant Cormier, tell what just happened in there?"
"Well let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. The gunman has been identified as John Doe. Seems during the busiest part of the day, he smuggled a pellet gun into the call centre. Shoved it down his pant leg and limped to his work station. Without warning he took it out and started shooting the balloons. He wouldn't stop. Authorities were called. By the time we got here, he had climbed up on the desk and was firing over the privacy wall picking off the balloons in another department. We had to shoot him. Those balloon were full of helium and the other workers sounded like fat little Disney characters. We have taken an accomplice into custody. She was passing ammunition to the gunman."
"Luke here is the gunman's supervisor. Is that pretty much the way you saw it?"
"Yes it is. It was a disaster. Customers were losing respect for us. Something had to be done."
"You seem to be in shock. Was this out of character?"
"Definitely, John was a family man. Very easy to work with."
"So what do you think set him off?"
"I heard that he and Kim had been griping about not getting balloons for the past week. I'm sorry they aren't cheap, you have to earn those. Kim was the silver haired petite woman they took into custody. We should be able to get answers from her."
"The crisis is over. How long do you expect to take to get the call centre back into operations."
"There are grief counsellors on site for those who have lost their balloons. Once the forensic team is done with their work, we should be back in full operation. That is in the hands of the police."
"No official word at this point. They'll leave when the job is finished. It's a mess in there. I haven't been given any time frames."
"Well there you have it folks. The worst mass shooting in Moncton area history. We'll have further updates at eleven."