I have a confession… I have a day job.
I do over the phone technical support for a major cable, internet & phone provider. This is the second company I’ve worked for doing this kind of work. Prior to that I ran a chain of retail stores, worked in several hotels and before that I was in restaurants (server, hostess, bartender, cook, dishwasher, manager).
I know customer service, inside and out, from both sides of the phone/counter. I have worked both at home and in a call center (so not fun, it’s also a giant Petri dish for sharing bacteria, colds, viruses, whooping cough, etc). Like you, we come to work in all weather, in sickness and health, etc.
I enjoy my job and most of my customers. I have the privilege of having conversations with people all over this nation and enjoy it immensely. That being said however, there are two reasons for the incredible turnover in this industry; the first reason is poor employees and the other is bad customers.
Now before you roll your eyes and chew me out, please know that I’ve had my fair share of poor customer service experiences as well. Yes, there are people that should not work with the public and believe me when I say they do get weeded out fairly quickly.
Here are some things you may or may not know about the faceless employee on the other side of the phone:
We have a “handle time” or “call time” that we are required to meet as employees. For my current employer it is 15 minutes, meaning I have 15 minutes to get your services fixed or schedule a service call. If it seems like I’m rushing you, I apologize, I am trying to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. I want to resolve your issues and I don’t want you to have to call back.
Some companies view it as a sign of poor employee performance if you have to call back within a certain period of time to deal with issues, mine included. The vague statistics that show on an employers reports about how many times a customer has to call back does not reflect that you weren’t home to troubleshoot, you couldn’t verify security information on your account or that you’re late for a dinner date and wanted to end the call before your issue was resolved. It gets held against the employee regardless.
We’re not allowed to tell you no. So that means when you ask if we mind while you can put the phone down to talk to someone else in the home, feed the dog, deal with your kids or answer your cell phone, we’re obligated to let you do this. Please don’t take advantage of us.
We are required to verify certain information on the account before we can help you. I apologize if this is frustrating for you, but it is for us too. The quicker we get through this, the quicker we can resolve your problem.
You are our eyes and ears – we can’t see what lights are on, what your TV says nor can we hear the sound that your DVR is making. Yes, I need you to unplug that cable, push that button or read that label.
Use common sense & don’t waste your time.
If it says “press the C button or call this number”, please press the “C” button before calling in and spending 25 minutes on hold just for me to tell you to press the C button.
If you cannot boot up your computer, this isn’t problem with your internet service, it’s a problem with your computer. Please take it to be serviced.
If your TV doesn’t turn on, the company providing you with cable service is not responsible. Contact the TV manufacturer, a a TV repair person or purchase a new one.
If you only have one phone in your home and no dial tone, it may be a problem with your phone. Purchase or borrow another phone to test the line before calling if you can.
Satellite dishes actually receive their information from satellites in space that orbit the earth. If you are in the middle of a storm and can’t get a signal because of cloud cover, please wait for the storm to pass.
If there is snow on your satellite dish that is keeping you from getting a signal, clean it off or wait for it to melt.
If I have to tell you that you’ve reached the wrong department, while I empathize with your frustration, not allowing me to get you to the correct department isn’t helping to correct the problem you called about.
I know your services are urgent and that you’re paying for them to work. So is every other customer. Residential technicians do not work around the clock. I am not their supervisor, nor do I have control of their schedule. When scheduling a service call, I am given a list of available appointment times that I can use. I cannot override this or write my own.
If it’s Saturday night and I can’t schedule a tech to come to your home until Monday, that means there are no open appointments before Monday. I’m not trying to make you suffer. Treating me badly does not open the schedule up nor does asking for my supervisor. He or She has no control over the schedule of another department either.
Telling me how much you pay for your service monthly does not give you privilege over every other paying customer. Our rates are the same for all customers. If another customer called before you did and it resulted in the scheduling of a service call, why should you get to go first, because you’re yelling louder? If you wouldn’t do this while you were standing in a line at a retail location, please don’t do it here. It’s the same poor manners.
You get what you pay for
Please don’t scream at me because you run a business out of your home but don’t want to pay for business service. I understand that when your service is down you could be losing money and/or can’t work. However, if you choose to save money by only paying for residential service, then you will need to wait for a residential technician. If you want business class priority, then please be willing to pay for business class service.
Don’t hang up
Most of us have a scripted call closing that we are required to tell you to close the call, please allow us to do this no matter how cheesy it may seem. Not only does it allow us to do our job as dictated by our employer, but this also affords us the time to finish documenting your account appropriately and close it correctly. From the time you hang up I get 30 seconds before the next call. No typo there, 30 seconds. It’s not much time to get things done properly which is why we prefer to do it while you’re still on the phone.
That’s also why sometimes an agent/representative may seem a little harried or short when you first start talking to them, especially if we just came off a bad call. I’m not making excuses, just explaining the nature of things. While you shouldn’t have to be affected by our last call, it’s hard to switch gears from a bad experience to a good one on only 30 seconds. Give us a chance to catch our breath and get the information we need while we’re still waiting for your account information to load on our computers and I promise I’ll make it worth your while.
So what does this all come down to?
- Have your information ready, know your phone number, have your account number handy and be willing to tell us whose name is on the account. I’m really happy that you and your spouse are in a great relationship, sadly other people aren’t and we need to make sure you are authorized to access the account.
- Speak clearly and recognize that we may be entering in your information, please don’t go so fast that you could be confused for an auctioneer.
- Unless you’re calling about a billing issue, please call from home and allow time for us to troubleshoot together.
- Turn down TV’s, radios, etc, don’t yell over them.
- Do not have me on speaker phone. That’s okay while you’re waiting on hold but when you connect with an agent/representative please do us the courtesy of a direct conversation.
- Get your children settled, calm screaming babies, barking dogs, etc.
- Do not answer other phones. You are on a business call, please regard it as such and call your spouse/child/friend back when we’re done. Just as you want our undivided attention, we prefer yours as well.
- Assess the situation before you call.
- Is this a problem on one TV/phone/computer or all of them?
- Are multiple services having issues?
- If there’s no power going to a device, is it plugged in? Does the outlet work?
- Follow the prompts on the screen and do what it tells you to do before calling
- If the automated message says you’re part of an outage, listen to the estimated restoral time and wait for it to be resolved. An outage is the result of a local or regional physical issue, which is either a construction or network technician issue. Troubleshooting equipment in your home will not create a better outcome no matter how willing you are to do it. (If a bridge is out, you can’t fix it by looking under the hood of your car.)
- You called me for help because I’m the one with the training and expertise, please let me do my job.
And of course, have you tried turning it off and on? 🙂