Call Center Employee (Retail)

Call Center Employee (Retail)

Call Center Junkie

7 Years Experience

St Joseph, MO

Male, 27

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.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +


Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

23 Questions


Last Answer on April 13, 2015

Best Rated

Do you think phone reps in outsourced call centers are worse, the same, or better than US-based reps? It's annoying when you get the guy with a thick Indian accent named "Peter", but do you think they're equally competent or even moreso?

Asked by Indy1 almost 4 years ago

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.

When do your policies allow you to just hang up on a rude caller?

Asked by JV almost 4 years ago

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.

My friends and I debate which of our cable companies have the absolute worst customer service reps (my vote: Comcast by a country mile). Inside the industry, is there one company that's considered to be the worst as far as CS rep quality?

Asked by almost 4 years ago

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.

I've heard that a lot of startups are hiring really well-educated college grads and paying them a lot, reasoning that customer service is often a client's most lasting impression of a brand. What do you think, and is it something you see spreading?

Asked by Brooke almost 4 years ago

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.

When a caller asks to speak to a supervisor, are you insulted because they're implying you can't solve their issue, or just relived to get rid of an annoying customer?

Asked by funwithboys almost 4 years ago

I have never felt insulted when a customer asks to speak with a supervisor. Have i ever felt relieved? frequently. Most supervisors in the call center industry have been in that position for years. It's not uncommon for someone to be hired into a company as a supervisor.

I worked for a cell company where my sup was hired in. He would regularly be taking an escalation from me and ask ME what the policy was. The agents you talk to when you call in, they do it daily. They know most of the policies backwards, forwards, and sideways. The supervisors job is to focus more on the development of the agent when it comes to call quality and time management. Also helping with professional development as well. Policy slips out of their mind, even if they started with the company as an agent.

So to circle back around, when someone asks to speak with a supervisor? i have already told them what the sup will tell them so all i feel is irritation that I have to take time dealing with getting the customer to my supervisor despite having answered their issue or resolved it to the best possible method i can based on company policy. 95% of the time a person escalates to a supervisor ( IN MY EXPERIENCE) they wasted their time.

Angry callers who are just being stupid, i'll gladly hand them over to a supervisor when they ask for it. I want to talk to someone reasonable. Not some jerk who is mad his bill went up 3 dollars because of taxes. Something we have 0 control over. (funny note, in my experience, people get more mad over tax increases then actual price increases, go figure!)

Now every ONCE in a great while, a supervisor is the only person that can resolve the issue (your situation requires a refund higher then i can give or something likr yhsy) then i gladly give it to the sup because that's the best course of action to get your issue resolved which is what I'm paid to do.

The difficult escalations for me (from both the supervisor and agent standpoint) is when the issue is an agent directly. He was rude, she was chewing gum (or some other type of food) on the call. Those mean extra work. Listening to the call, talking to the agent. Listening to the call again with the next person up the food chain (the supervisors manager or whoever the sup reports to) and then deciding the course of action if its determined there is a credible issue. It's time consuming. But i feel, having been on both sides of the issue, i would rather have an escalation regarding the conduct of the agent then a policy, because I can do something about an agent issue. Policy issues on the other hand, all i can do is listen to the venting of the customer and tell them I can't change the policy. I feel like it wastes the persons time some times and I don't like wasting someones time. That's why I use the line "I understand your issue but my supervisor would give you the same answer i am", its honest.

What kind of day leaves you feeling proud of a job well done, when each day there's a new queue of annoyed customers you have to deal with? Thanks!

Asked by Hamilton almost 4 years ago

good question!

I feel accomplished every day that I do my job regardless of how the customers are or the system issues or changes in the position or even my co-workers. If the customers were rude, wouldn't listen, and called me every name under the book, oh well. If I did my best to resolve every issue i encountered and did my best on every call I took, I consider it a successful day. Was it tough? hell yeah. But i can still feel a sense of accomplishment because I earned the pay i got, even if that isn't the best either.

Every job, regardless of the feild, has its down sides and its good sides. If you continually focus on the negative, it will result in your job sucking even if you are a professional cuddler (holy crap where was that option on career day?!) but if you find the silver lining, you can enjoy what you do, even if it is a difficult job.

What's the meanest thing someone's said to you on the phone? Has anyone every threatened to hurt you? Not that that would be possible if they didn't know who you were i guess...

Asked by LeFort almost 4 years ago

I have gotten told i was going to get fired more times then i can count by customers. It has never happened. Agents are more likely to get fired for HR policy violations like sexual harassment then a customer complaint (obviously that's not a common issue either)

People say stupid stuff when they are angry. I have been called a towel headed sand n**** (thats the N word) a terrorist, a theif, and several other names. The only thing they do is make me laugh. I will say one angry guy that was unhappy I wouldn't reduce the cost of his bill without removing services (cell phone company) so he called me (for those that get offended, i'm simply telling a story, I was offended too) I was called a cock gobbling ass dragon. I laughed at the guy and, within the policy of my company, ended the call. He heard me laughing at him and when the call was reviewed (he filed a complaint) my supervisor gave my a $10 Starbucks card for not going off on the guy and remaining as professional as possible. The customer was told to either pay his bill or switch by the supervisor when he called them back to ask if i'd been fired yet.

I have no pity on those people. They have deeper issues and I don't take it to heart. Most newbies have a bleeding heart. They want to give every person every thing they can. Training is about refining that to the people that actually need to be helped and then learning on the job refines the definition of who actually needs help and how to best do that.

We all have thick skins. You have to in this industry. If you don't and you take every situation and problem personal, you can't last in this industry or customer service as a whole.

Does it suck sometimes? yeah. Dealing with a crying wife/mother because she is canceling the service of her son/husband who was a soldier and died in Iraq or Afghanistan, those calls hurt. I have had to step away and cry a bit because of it. But as a whole, we have to just shut up and deal just as much as the customers do because i'm going to talk to another 100 people after that person, and they aren't going to be in a good mood either.

So every night, i go home, kiss my son, kiss my wife, watch some big bang theory to bring some more light in my life, and get up and do it again the next day to face a new set of people that are mad, not at me, but the situation they are in. Like i said in a previous question- customer service 101- see it from their point of view. but don't get too attached, because it makes the job you get usually horrible pay for that much worse. No need to over do it!