Saturday, July 27, 2013

Working in Customer Service

For people who have never worked on this side of the phone, let me tell you, its no fun.  Phone support is one of the most widely available jobs in the US.  There is a call center in at least every major city.  In my lifetime, I have worked in 3 of them, this regretfully being my 3rd one.  Some people are made for this type of job, and then there's people like me who used to be really good at it, but have just done it for way too long.  We are tired, we are burnt out, and we have bosses who are psychotic egomaniacs who whip us to work harder all the time just to make themselves look good. 

To protect myself, and my company, I'm not gonna give too detailed information, however I will say that I don't work at a normal job where I do tech support like for phones and computers.  I do tech support for a huge worldwide company, and my job can be very stressful, in that sometimes I am required to make tough decisions where large amounts of money are being lost, yet for some reason everyone's issue, no matter how small, is the biggest issue on the planet and needs to be fixed yesterday. 

I wanted to share with you some advice that might help your call go faster and smoother.

1)  Listen to your support representative!

Too many times have I answered the phone, first thing asking for the user's customer ID, and the customer completely runs me over and give me ALL KINDS of information that is completely irrelevant.  I get corporate ID numbers, store numbers, social security numbers, license plate numbers, a life story about their college education and where they spent the last 5 years, the freaking parking lot location where they last parked their car, and the times and dates of their last 4 bowel movements, but NEVER does that first sentence EVER seem to answer my original question...  What is your customer ID?  Is it that hard?

2)  Have your information ready!

This should go without saying.  Some jobs I've worked at in the past want me to keep the amount of time I'm on a call low.  This doesn't help when I have people prancing around the office trying to get the simplest information available.  If you don't have it the first time, fine, but write down what you will need so the next call goes smoother. 

3)  We do not have magic wands!

DO NOT CALL OUR DEPARTMENT JUST BECAUSE ANOTHER DEPARTMENT WAS TOO BUSY TO TAKE YOUR CALL!  This is EXTREMELY aggravating!  Many many times, we get callers that just think we ALL do the same thing!!  This is NOT true.  If you call a rep at the financial department to have your password reset instead of the tech team, it DOES NOT MATTER how much you tell me you REALLY need it done NOW!  I don't have access to that system, therefore I cannot help you.  Haggling and holding us hostage on the phone does not magically make us capable of resolving your issue.  This is like yelling at a man with no arms to pick up a watermelon.  It does not matter how many times you tell him that this is urgent, he does not have arms to pick it up with!  Your constant haggling and begging will not give him the telekinetic powers with which to use his mind to lift it. 

4)  Don't imply urgency

There is a million and one customers, all which believe that their issue is the one that if it doesn't get resolved, the world is gonna stop turning and God himself is going to start to panic.  We sort issues based on urgency, and in most cases, we determine the urgency.  If it needs to be fixed now, we will fix it.  If it does not need to be fixed now, and we say so, don't argue with us.  Chances are, we have been at this longer than you, and we know what a real problem is.  You know what I do when someone labels an issue as urgent?  It becomes the last issue in the stack I work.  No kidding.

5)  Don't be arrogant.

It has to be one of the greatest piss-offs in the world when a caller phones in with one of the simplest things that we do, and demands that this issue be escalated directly to Tier 2.  You are the "super mega manager from hell" of this company, and your office is THE ONE, out of the entire God-forsaken world, that makes the most money and the most business.  You need your password reset, but since you are so high and mighty, letting us do it for you in 10 seconds just isn't enough.  You need the personal home and cellphone number of the CEO of our company, and his mother just in case, and if possible, lets page out God himself while we are at it.  Oh and by the way, this is URGENT!  Jesus Christ... 

6)  Don't be lazy.

We are the "Help Desk", not the "Do it for you desk".  Our job is to help you fix your problem.  We have to help a billion others, and we can't afford to take on work for every single office or customer and just make it all go away.  Your effort is also required.  Also, we aren't stupid... we KNOW when we are being manipulated.  If your trying to hint at us that we need to do it for you, or you keep making excuses why you can't do it, or your playing dumb, its obvious.  Furthermore, if there is a procedure requiring you to put in a request for something a few business days in advance, get it out of the way.  Do not call me at the last minute, asking me to page out and wake someone from our Tier 2 support team up so they can come to your aid.  That is WRONG and adds to the stress of our job.  In most cases, we will be getting chewed out for it later.

7)  Talk to me like you would talk to your mother

Alot of people in the customer service industry NEED their jobs, and alot of them will allow themselves to be pushed over and abused and mistreated and yelled at while continuing to be nice, and there are alot of customers who like to abuse that.  You better not end up on the phone with me, because unlike them, I don't give a crap, and many of us don't.  I will talk to you the exact same way you talk to me.  If you disrespect me, I will let you know I don't appreciate it.  If you keep it up, I'll hang up.  I DONT have to deal with you.  I need my paycheck about as much as I need a brand new stereo.  Its just a nice thing to have, but don't need it.  Getting fired would actually be AWESOME!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rants about sucky jobs

Although I've worked quite a few jobs in my life time, and none of them were what I would consider the perfect job, there are just those that you really really loathe.  I'm working in one of those jobs right now, and to be honest I really hope I get fired.  If you think about it, the average full time employee spends nearly a third of their entire life hours working.  One-third of your life is quite a huge portion of it, especially to spend unhappy.  It's that time again where after managing to do everything as best as I can, I've managed to make it through another few weeks worth of work and still have a job, and then my boss is threatening my job again with his complaints. 

A little bit about my job and why I hate it so much...  I don't do a simple job where a product is simply produced or found and offered to a customer.  I don't do a simple job where things are just repetitive and almost the same every time.  My job isn't like washing a car, or making a drink or a hamburger, or finding a part or a product of some kind.  I have the type of job where I must solve problems, and many of these issues need immediate responses, and I have absolutely little to no training on anything.  I've been at this job for about 2 years now, and everyday a new issue walks in that nobody has ever heard of before.  Things are constantly changing and fast paced.  While you might say that its an exciting fast paced job that we should all be after, and that my work ethic is suffering if I don't feel like busting my ass day in and day out, let me remind you of some other key points. 

First and foremost, my boss.  A micromanager from hell.  The guy literally has nothing better to do than make new rules to make things harder and forget he ever made them 3 weeks later.  They must not be that important.  One of the traits of a sociopath is a technique called gaslighting, in which the sociopath's victim is confused simply by making statements and denying they were ever said later, or putting words in the person's mouth, etc.  Other techniques used are just generally figuring out the weak spots and poking at them.  After a while the person being pranked tends to question their own sanity, or wonder why they are getting so angry for what seems to be no reason.  This is a behavior that my supervisor is very much guilty of.  I'm not the only person who has been broken down to tears from sheer stress and anger in my job, no.  There are many others.  One man I work with calls my boss "the 2nd worst boss he has ever had", and being that this guy is many years older than me, and has had many more bosses, it begs the question of just where my boss ranks on the scale of horrible bosses. 

There was a man I knew who was offered a job with us, and was a happy employee of another client in the same office for about 5 years.  He was left without a job when the client's contract ended and they chose not to renew.  My boss offered him a job with us.  That reliable, intelligent, respectable, hardworking man made it not even 60 days before he came to the conclusion that this job was shit, and he needn't waste further time.  It took only one or two arguments with my boss to convince him to leave and live off of what he had saved, and move to a different area in search of another job.  And how nice it must be to be in such a position where you don't have to take bullcrap. 

You see, I started as a reliable and hard working employee.  I was dedicated and did the best I could, I excelled at every challenge that was handed to me.  I wanted to prove that I could do the job better and faster and work more efficiently than anyone else in the office, and I did.  I made it to various types of authoritative positions where I was given the power to manage the team and its productivity, and I'm glad to say when I had those positions, the people whom I worked with were productive.  Why?  Because they had respect for me.  They knew I worked as hard as they did, and they knew that I wasn't griping about bullshit.  I didn't micromanage, and I only corrected where I saw things really needed to be corrected.  I praised in public and corrected in private.  Very simple to do.  And then...

Along came my boss, and another idiot we have on the force.  People with OBVIOUS contol issues in their own lives who wanted to make up for it in the office.  Everyone in there was someone to push around until every last juicy drop of satisfaction could be extracted to quench the insatiable ego-driven thirst of these god forsaken power hungry heathens.  NO people skills.  NO respect for the individual.  God it must be so good to wake up in the morning and go to work and get paid just to do what you love doing... playing God with a magnifying glass.

The point is, I've been micromanaged to the point where I just don't give a flying fuck about my job.  I could care less if work gets done tomorrow, or how badly things need to be fixed.  I don't give a shit about the customer's issues, and I just don't really care about anything anymore.  LET THEM FIRE ME.  I will be better off and happier with less pay.  Even the possibilty of no pay, and living under a bridge hunting for e-coli infested chicken wing meat to pry off a chewed bone from the dumpster behind the Church's sounds much better when placed in contrast next to another day with this job, regardless of whether the check keeps coming in.  I have really had my fill with this job, and it needs to end. 

I dream of being a bartender.  I went to bartending school and graduated, got my certification, in hopes of finding a part time job just to take the stress off and spend at least a few hours pretending I have another job.  I would love to be behind a bar, taking orders from thirsty, chatty customers who have had a long day and want some refreshement.  They need someone to talk to when they're down, or maybe they just want to knock back a few drinks in celebration of a new job or a new house they bought.  While I may not know every drink in the book, there is a solution in a book somewhere in that bar, and the worst thing I can do is make it wrong and have to start over.  It may not pay as much as much as I make now, and I may have trouble with bills, or be forced to spend less, but money doesn't buy happiness.  I don't think success has anything to do with how much money one makes.  I think success is nothing more than a combination of stability and happiness, and being able to find the time within yourself to love life.  I can easily see a man who is poor and broke, and may not have enough to do everything he wants to do, but he has a home, people that care about him, friends, love, and the time to persue the things that make him happy.  I can just as easily see a man who considers himself a failure in life, living in a mansion but working unhappily and without rest to pay the debts that maintain his lifestyle.  The point is, I choose happiness.