1. No one calls because they’re happy.
And I mean, well yeah, obviously, but the fact that such an innate reality of the job is one of the worst parts is really telling. You may not be happy, but ostensibly you call to be helped, not to fire blanks at a faceless voice that’s getting less and less “sorry that you’re having trouble” by the expletive.
There are so many people to rant to out there in the big, wide world. There’s friends, family, the Internet. So why pick someone who a) is merely a representative of your perceived wrong-doer, b) can’t do anything to prevent your error from having already inconvenienced you, and c) might, most of the time, be forced to explain that the error was, in fact, yours.
Note: You really, really don’t know better than someone you’ve called to solve your problem. Like, definitively you don’t.
And yes, even having to call a customer service line sucks. It’s a hassle you might even have to plan your day around. You dread having to do it. Things should just work like they’re supposed to.
But they don’t and, short of going into a store (if that’s even possible, at my job it wasn’t), calling customer service is the best way to get to the root of the issue and, hopefully, be able to do something about it.
So, like, why be a dick?
2. Some people just call to talk.
This might be even more traumatizing than the anger junkies because it’s so goddamn sad.
Like, life gets lonely. Actually, it’s often lonely. But in what world is talking to your customer service rep a better remedy than getting a dog? Or a cat? Or five dogs and five cats? Or going for a walk and smiling at strangers? Strangers kinda like smiles!
I will say that this can, on occasion, be super entertaining. The call will still be a total waste of your time, but at least you’ll hang up, at the very worst, bemused. Scorching hot political takes are especially popular. You know how “Thanks a lot, O-bama” seems like it’s just a joke now? It is decidedly not just a joke now. Paranoia about drone strikes on one’s barn and foreign troops marching through one’s backyard are also apparently dire threats.
Unfortunately, the longer the call goes on the more and more you can get sucked in and, subsequently, kind of space out. Because, enraptured as you are by your customer-turned-confidante’s various colloquialisms and regional drawl, you can’t really participate in the discussion. You can chuckle, say things like “Sounds tough,” or “Oh man,” but that’s about the extent of the proprieties.
This is a dangerous trap to fall into. Because…
3. Efficiency and actual customer service don’t mix.
Contrary to the overwhelming majority, some people actually call because they want help, have carved out time to listen, be patient, and, wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles, have their problem solved.
These people are the ones you bring home to Mom. The system works because of these people. One good call can make up for an entire day of assholes.
The problem with the gold standard of callers is the reverse of the paranoid politico in that you want to keep talking to them. You don’t want to go back out into the cold. Baby, it’s bad out there! So you actually engage a little bit more than you should, sincerely wish them well, say their call was no problem and mean it…
This is how the world is supposed to be. This is what you signed up for: the helping! You love helping! Helping is everything now. Maybe they’ll let me order their groceries for them. You know what? Why do they even pay for our service? Free for you! Free for you! It’s. All. Free. For. You.
But, because these are the most functional members of the human race, they have other, better things to do. You are simply a well-manicured slot in their day. And then you feel sad for you. Now you’re the one who needs five dogs and cats to fill the void left by the smiling voice of a stranger…
4. It never ends.
There’s no good time to call it a day. In a high volume situation, no matter how well you train your clients not to dial after business hours, they put fingers to buttons anyways. And it’s not like they expect to just leave a voicemail either…
“Don’t you people ever pick up the phone!”
“Customer service, hah, that’s a good one.”
“Really would love a call back…” He exhaled dejectedly.
True stories all. And true stories that all occurred after six at night, on either coast.
Again, the very fact that you have to call really, really sucks. But Jesus, at least make some time during your workday to call during mine.
The worst part if that no matter when you decide enough is enough for the day, you know that they’ll be there in the morning; waiting in your voicemail, in your inbox, festering with resentment. There is no dread like the dread of unanswered complaints.
5. It’s hard to believe you’re important.
Everyone will assure you that you’re essential, “the frontline of the business,” etc. That’s probably true to an extent. Your voice is the one the customer most closely associates with the company, and your level of service/expertise/patience, whatever, is going to be their foremost personal takeaway for the time being.
But honestly, you’re not making or breaking anything unless you really overstep.
One of the reasons calling customer service is such a drag is that you know you have to, you don’t have a choice of Internet or power provider most of the time. You chose one cell phone company over another and now you get to deal with them for two years. You may hate the hoops you’re being made to jump through, but ultimately, you’ll hop to it.
One customer service rep isn’t going to make or break the business.
Minute-to-minute in the client relations game, your importance starts and ends at the fact of your presence. Not any intangible salesmanship or quality. That’s not to say that some people aren’t better at it than others. The main reason I don’t want to do it again is that I reached my ceiling of competence pretty quickly. When it really comes down to it though, you’re just a tiny ledge for someone to find a finger hold.
I guess that’s better than no ledge at all.