6 Life Lessons From Working In A Call Center

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Everything is on this list is pretty obvious, I’ll admit, but these are the kinds of things that I didn’t fully appreciate until I got my first job as a customer service representative in a call center, because until then, my main scope of interaction with people were my own twenty-something peers on a college campus. I thought the adult world was going to be more evolved.

1. People are idiots.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times someone has called in and the following conversation occurs:

Customer: I have stuff to put inside a box, but I don’t know what size box I need.

Me: Okay, well do you know the dimensions of the stuff you’re trying to pack?

Customer: No. I was hoping you could help me?

Sure, let me reach through the phone with my ruler and get these measurements myself.

2. “Experts” don’t always know all the answers.

I can’t tell you how many times I pretended to know about a product and proceeded to provide information on it based on the resources I had on my computer screen. I’ve helped people assemble machinery I’ve never touched in my life and offered advice on selecting products I never knew existed until I started working there.

Fake it ‘til you make it.

3. People have freaky good memories.

I consider myself to have average memory. When I looked at my stats and saw that I answered on average about 150 calls a day (I work into the night which drops the number of calls I get), I didn’t expect to remember customers that I get on the phone. Getting a repeat customer on the phone was rare, but when it did, I would recall my last experience with them: “She was pleasant” or “He was rude” or “This one is trouble”.

You wouldn’t think that when you called customer service that the person on the other end would actually remember you or vice versa.

4. Things that are obvious to you may not be obvious to other people.

Me: Let me set up a new account for you. What is your first and last name?

Customer: Krakkamoshu Habbablabbajabbahah.

Me: Could you spell that for me?

Customer: K-R-A-K-K-A-M-O-S-H-U.

Me: ………………and your last name?

Customer: *exasperated sigh* H-A-B…

I’m sorry I didn’t know how to spell your impossible last name?

On the same token, there are a lot of things on my end that feels obvious to me, but isn’t necessarily obvious to customers. My job is very standard and cookie-cutter like, so it’s easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with the company. When someone does come along who needs a little more help than the average caller, I have to remind myself that s/he just doesn’t know and it’s not his/her fault.

5. You have to ask for what you want.

It never hurts to ask. There are actually a lot of things a customer service rep can do for a customer, but we’re not allowed to offer them until the right time…aka when you’re asked. I’ve had so many people call in and say, “I didn’t know you could _______! Is there any way I can go back and get _________?”

8 times out of 10, the answer is “No, I’m sorry but I am unable to do that.” Guess you should’ve just asked earlier, but at least you’re asking now?

6. Every person is a human being.

One of the first things that they repeated throughout training is that when a customer is angry, you have to remember they are never angry with you. They’re angry at the situation. They’re angry with themselves. They’re angry about something that was out of your control. You just happen to be on the receiving end and you can’t take it personally.

There are a lot of crappy, lazy people working in call centers that don’t help when they really should. You have every right to be angry with them when you encounter them, but please don’t assume that every time you call in to customer service that the voice on the other end is not trying to do their job. There is a human being on the other end of the line and often not there by choice, but they have bills to pay and mouths to feed. That’s not your burden to bear, but the least you can do is treat them like a human being. TC Mark

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