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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23 Questions


Last Answer on April 13, 2015

Best Rated

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

Asked by Elise over 2 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 2 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!

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 2 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.

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 2 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

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 over 2 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'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 over 2 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!

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

Asked by Wags15 over 2 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?