Saturday, November 3, 2012

12 Things - The Calling Customer Service Edition

During the latter part of my work week, I had the "good fortune" of revisiting my call center customer service roots. By the end of the day, my voice was ragged and I was exhausted from keeping a smile in my voice. But mostly I was reminded why I abhor working customer service. It isn't that I don't enjoy helping our customers, it's more that people are just... Yeah. I was reminded why I prefer a good book over human interaction any day of the week.

So with that, I bring you a "things to keep in mind when you're calling customer service" friendly reminder.

1) Have your information ready. Nothing is more annoying to a call center rep than having to ferret out an order number, a search or other piece of information because you were too dial happy to have that information handy before you called. You want off the phone faster? Great. I want you off my phone faster, too. Try having your shit together when you call and we can both have what we want.

2) Don't be impatient. See number 1. If I have to play 20 Questions with you because you couldn't be bothered to give me the information I need, you're going to have to live with the consequences.

3) For the love of all that is holy and pure, DO NOT SPELL EVERY WORD. I graduated from high school and remember how to spell "road" and "Smith". If I need clarification, I'll ask for it. Nothing is quite so patronizing as listening to, "It's Mary, M-A-R-Y... Smith... S-M-I-T-H..."

4) Hey, guess what? I'm a person! With feelings! You're frustrated, maybe even angry, I get that. I don't make nearly enough money to be demoralized and cursed at. You'll catch more flies with honey... Just sayin.

5) You know what's worse than having to ferret out information from you? Listening to you eat - right in my ear. I get it. You have a finite period of time to call customer service AND eat your lunch. Don't multitask by doing both. It's rude... Not to mention incredibly disgusting to listen to. I wear an ear piece, so your crunching and lip smacking is amplified. Quit it.

6) Customer service 101 says, "Treat each call as if it were your first." I got news for you, Cupcake. Unless you're calling as soon as I log into my phone, you are NOT my first call. In fact, you're probably the 50th call. I defy you to answer the same damn question 50 times in a row and not be a little irritated.

7) Customer Service 101 also says, "the customer is always right." Actually, no. The customer is usually an asshole. I've been doing this shtick for years and I'm here to tell you, 9 times out of 10 you did something wrong. It's my job to make it sound like you're not an incompetent fucktard and that I'm actually apologizing. That doesn't mean you're not an incompetent fucktard; it just means I'll get fired for calling you one.

8) This one is specific to the information industry: you are using an Internet-based search tool, if you don't know what a browser is, you should not be allowed near a computer. If I have to ask you what the little picture that you click on looks like, you need more help than I can give.

9) The customer service rep does not have the power to credit your entire order. In fact, we're on the front lines to deter you from asking for that. But if you really feel like you need more than $5.00 back, ask for a supervisor - politely and immediately.

10) The last I knew, I was not employed by you. Don't treat me like your personal shopper, secretary, maid or personal IT member. I also don't work for Microsoft, Google, Intel, Mozilla, AOL or Apple. I have to look up the answer to your question the same way you'd have to.

11) As much as I'd like to be able to read minds, I can't. Use all the words, please.

12) Remember, we keep notes in our system on everything from why you called to how much of a prick you were. For all of your complaining about how shitty your customer service experience was, the problem probably started with you... Being a prick.

The bottom line is that being a customer service rep is really a thankless job. In most corporate environments, CSRs are so low down on the totem pole they're overlooked and under thought about. Calls are monitored not so much for quality assistance, but to ensure call quotas and stats. And those stats will determine if the CSR can feed her family next week or if she'll be let go because she couldn't get you off the phone in 180 seconds or less.

Keep that in mind.

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