Call Center Junkie
7 Years Experience
St Joseph, MO
I have been working in the Call Center retail Industry in the Sales and Customer Service aspect for 7 years. In the retail part, i have handled everything from tv and internet service through cell phones and beyond. I enjoy what I do because I get to talk to new people every day from all over the country and the world. Ask me anything, while i'll never claim to have seen and done it all, I have enough experience that I can usually figure it out if I don't already know it.
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That's a trick question. The most accurate answer is, not immediately. At least not in my experience.
The reality of the call center industry is, most front line reps (the ones on the phone) could dance circles around the supervisors when it comes to policy knowledge. My current supervisor has over 15 years experience in the call center industry in various positions and types of calls. She started after i did with the company i'm currently at, with less training on the policies.
While that's not ideal to us as reps, supervisors are really more for the reps. They are the baby sitters if you will. My supervisor has, and still will on occasion, ask me what the policy is that a customer is disputing when she takes a call from me.
Who would you rather speak with me or her? She is a really good person, and will agree with you that i can be a jerk. But the reality is, she will back me 99.99% of the time.
I tell you that to tell you this:
Our job is to resolve your issue in one call. No matter what business sector. Whether it's technical, financial, medical, legal, or any other line of business; our job is to make sure you don't have to call back unless absolutely necessary.
For several companies, this is one of the metrics they base the agents performance reviews and bonuses on. The reasoning for this is simple. If they take care of your issue the first time, the call volume is lower so they spend less in staffing. 2. you are a happier customer. The fact that resolving your issue correctly the first time effects their money, the agents have all the incentive they need to make sure you don't need to call back in.
So when you ask for a supervisor, my job is to first confirm the reason. Second, it's to tell you exactly what the supervisor will say and inform you of that fact, making sure you understand, it's usually a waste of time to go to that level. However, if you still want to speak with a supervisor, THEN we facilitate the supervisor hand off unless the supervisor gives us something different to tell the customer. (not impossible, but not unheard of)
The average training (in my experience) for a call center rep is 6-8 weeks. Most supervisors that don't start as an agent with that company, go through less then half the training an agent goes through because the company is focused on getting them up to speed on the HR part of their job.
Does that all make sense?
This is a difficult question. Some reps from other countries, yes, they are horrible. But that is equally so for US reps. In certain countries in that part of the world, people have to be more educated (i'm talking a bachelors degree or more) to work in a call center and the pay is less then what it is here in the US, hence the draw for companies looking to save money. I will say that, in my experience, the reps I have talked to in the Philippines are a little harder to deal with then reps from India.
We have all had an experience with "Peter" and the best thing I can say is to work through it the best you can because it's a struggle for him too. Don't forget that. Most companies though, if you ask nicely (key word there is NICELY) for a rep that speaks English better, they will try to accommodate. Give it an honest effort though. You'd be surprised the good experience you can have. Those reps are generally under more pressure to give the customer a better experience so when you give them a chance, they can surprise you!
The other thing we (as consumers) have to remember is, outsourcing is, for lack of a better term, our fault. We have demanded lower prices and companies had to find ways to give us what we wanted. We have brought this on ourselves. This is a prime example of getting what you pay for.
Now some companies who have outsourced have taken it too far, we can all agree on that. But having been on the other side of the coin, working with them (i have gone over to both India and the Philippines and trained some of these reps before) they do make a big effort to try and help us as its their job just as much as it is mine. But it's still our duty, as the consumer, to show them respect and let them do their job.
I will honestly say in closing i have seen and dealt with reps working from other countries that aren't qualified to wipe tables at McDonald's. I have also experienced that in the US as well. The worst reps I have dealt with both professionally and from being the customer were all US based. They (reps in other countries) already know we are frustrated that the job they are doing used to be here and that they aren't as good at English as we are. They are human though. Just like you and I. They deserve the trust of letting them attempt to do their job before we get frustrated and ask for "someone who speaks american".
I'm a big believer in professional karma. You get what you give. You give them respect and patience, even when they are difficult to understand and they will be more willing to bend rules if they can or go the extra mile. The more rude you are to them, the less leeway you will get from the rep if they even can budge. Sometimes rules are rules no matter what. But the better you treat the rep, the higher the chances are that they will bend over backwards to help you even if its not exactly in the scope of support they can offer.
Remember, treat that rep how you would want to be treated in their position.
Honestly, the cable industry as a whole has an abysmal record. The company I worked for did very well in my region (the Midwest) but nationally they are ranked pretty bad too( it wasn't Comcast). There are several factors that I could go on and on about that cause this but it comes down to one thing- no one can win when it comes to cable TV except the networks themselves. My experience in the cable industry has taught me that. I could go into more detail then anyone who hasn't worked in the industry would probably understand but the cable sector is broken as a whole. Its not just one companies' fault.
As i haven't worked for EVERY company, i can't say definitively that they do, but it is most definitely an industry standard. Those calls can be used in court. Just like the notes in a customers account.
As far as pulling a call, it is very common. From customer disputes to quality scoring and even call collaborations. We very regularly go into meetings and the supervisor will pull a random call and everyone discusses it. These are all in an effort to make sure when you call in, you get the most quality service you can.
Is every agent perfect? of course not. No agent is. But they are used for accountability and development to make sure you (the customer) are taken care of to the best possible standard
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I have honestly never been asked this. It's kind of a two sided response. At home, I have developed a much different way of handling things. I stay calm and focus on the issue and resolve it. The outside influences like peoples reactions are no where near as influential.
At work is a different story. We definitely do what we can to keep each other in high spirits but its always a high pressure work environment with everything we have to do and monitor. Tempers fly and we can sometimes get under each others skin. I actually will admit i sometimes i have less patience with my co-workers then my customers, friends, or family.
This does differ company to company. With most, If you have been warned two-three times about your language or conduct on the phone with the agent (foul language or saying offensive things) then the agent is allowed to hang up. Some companies do not allow it and require putting the customer on hold or escallating it to a supervisor.
Personally, I will not work for a company that does not allow the call to be terminated when the agent is being abused by the customer. I ask in every interview for a position with a new company what the policy is. I treat every customer i come into contact with, with the most respect I can. Even when customers get verbally abusive or are continually offensive. While i take none of it to heart, I refuse to allow it to continue beyond reason.
If you are that mad that you feel you need to insult the agent because of something the company did, cool down before you call. You don't like someone being disrespectful to you while you are trying to resolve an issue you didn't cause I', sure so its good practice to show that same respect.
Now if they are being rude in a different way like interrupting, I simply have to change my approach, politely regain control of the call, and move forward with making sure to resolve the concerns and answer the questions of the customer.
I have heard of this, and I'm glad you asked!
In my first supervisor position, i was working for a cell phone company and I hired a young man who was 26 and had a bachelors in business management. I was 21 and had been in the industry for 1.5 years (ish) and had been a manager at a restaurant before that. He didn't make it through training. He was so knowledgeable he wasn't able to change to doing things the way the company did and he was very difficult to try and help develop because he felt his degree made him in a higher position over myself and the other supervisors. He was, by definition, overqualified to sell cell phones. Weird, right?!
Having a degree in any field is a fantastic accomplishment. I'm working on one right now. But without the work experience in our industry, its a major shock and few can handle it. A young lady i worked with until recently left the company because despite having an accounting degree and us working with loan applications, she felt her knowledge wasn't being utilized to its potential. She was bored.
I think it has potential in certain lines of business (Google and Amazon are probably big companies taking advantage of the college grads) but most businesses, this would cause more harm then good in my opinion. The term "data dumping" or overloading a customer with information is generally more harmful then helpful in our industry for one simple reason. Time is money. The second cell phone company I worked for found that an average call at Resolve the issue, move on to the next. That's what we do. The more we talk, the more issues WE create.
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