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.

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Last Answer on April 13, 2015

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What's the craziest story you've heard of a phone rep being rude or unprofessional to a caller?

Asked by Elise over 3 years ago

Well, I must say some of the experiences that have been in the news about comcast and the experience of their customers has been pretty intense. Having worked for a cable company that is a tleast putting an effort in to make sure the customer service experience is good even if the pricing and other issues remain, I feel horrible for the people that have to deal with them. If given the opportunity, I'd definately overhaul the customer experience with comcast.

I will say I once had to fire an agent because he was making sexual innuendos to call female caller. She was married and her father was a supervisor within my office... It was a pretty epic fail.

I also have sat in as a witness on the termination of some reps where they were in more of a collections type role and were being very aggressive, to the point of making empty threats of legal and financial actions against a customer. Not only is this illegal, but obviously, its extremely unprofessional. 

The one that stands out in recent memory, the customer was 10 days late on a payment. She had called in to make payment arrangements. He was telling her she was a low life. She was going to be facing wage garnishments and possible jail time. All over a cell phone bill. (this obviously wasn't the case) The agent worked for me and we weren't even in the collections department. I assumed the call, set up the arrangement and made sure the customer was aware that it was not acceptable for this treatment she recieved and that I would deal with it. The agents termination was in process before I finished the call.

You should never, as a customer, get harassed or abused by a phone rep. It is illegal for any company to claim legal action is getting taken when they aren't able to or will not be doing so. It is also illegal for anyone to call you claiming to be a legal representative of a company when that is not what they really are. Even if they are a collections company.

If you ever encounter this, report the company to the FCC- get the date and time of the call, the agents name, the agents ID number. As much info as possible. That company can face very hefty fines, possibly getting closed, for offenses like this. You always have rights as a caller. Don't let someone take them from you.

Why are most "you are on hold" and automated-phone-tree recorded voices female?

Asked by Sharif over 3 years ago

I can't say for sure but my assumption is that for most people, a female voice is more appealing and relaxing. So with that being the case, holding for 20 minutes is better with a female voice telling you that your call is important then a male from a psycology stand point.

The average major company only talks to around 10% of its customers. (This was from a study in 2010 or 2011) Meaning the ones who are having the problems are the ones calling in; (except in the sales capacity) so they want you to be calm when u get to the agent.

Great question though!

How much do overseas call center reps get paid, and do you think it's just a matter of time before all U.S. companies move their customer support overseas?

Asked by Beisbol over 3 years ago

I don't think any intelligent company should move their service completely overseas. I see the benefits and think they do have some purpose. But to completely move services overseas would be bad for the economy and very bad PR. Companies do everything they can to avoid the press finding out when they send jobs overseas, its bad for business.

As far as pay, it's comparable to what we make, meaning most are still on the lower end of their middle class and up but the reason its cheaper is culture and cost of living. Then the business side you throw in tax benefits and facilities cost, it has its purpose. Especially for companies that close the american offices on holidays. They can keep the phones staffed and the money coming in but the Americans get their holiday time and the Americans (unknowingly) get the brunt of the traffic during the holiday times of the overseas couterparts

Is there much difference between callers in different industry sectors? Like are users calling about their Internet service better/worse than callers about phone service, appliance repair, etc?

Asked by dan79 over 3 years ago

It really depends on the part of the country and the issue. I will say that callers about cell phone issues and internet issues are usually the worst. Because of how technology based our society has become, most people place too much reliance on those two services so if one goes out, they feel like they are cut off from the rest of the world. 

I would say if i had to pick one though, cell phone users are typically the worst. I remember one customer I spoke with who was crying when she called in and it took me ten minutes to figure out what the issue really was because I couldn't understand her. Her service wasn't working and it was the end of the world because she had been excluded from some party that she "NEEDED" to be at. The reality of the problem? She had accidentally turned airplane mode on and that's why she wasn't getting any calls or able to make any.

If I ask to speak to a supervisor, are you required to transfer me to one?

Asked by Wags15 over 3 years ago

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?

Do companies really record every phone conversation like their recordings say? And can they easily pull any recording they want, if there's a dispute or something?

Asked by Anna1234 over 3 years ago

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

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 over 3 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.