If I ask you all very nicely will you try and be nice to people in call centres?
I know it is hard when you are understandably irate and seemingly getting nowhere. I’ve been guilty of being snappish myself, but I do have a good reason to ask you all to try and be nice – the person who answers the phone might be.
Well, it could be. You have no idea who is on the other end of the line.
When I am sitting at my regular desk I have to answer the phone as well. This used to be fine because we got all the calls, and the nice ones more or less balanced out the nasty, but now our calls get funnelled through a switchboard, which is staffed by people who are capable of dealing with most of the calls themselves. Whilst this means I have to answer the phone less, so get more work done, it also means that only the calls Switchboard can’t deal with get passed through… And invariably these are the awkward ones.
Most of these are ok, because it involves a certain degree of detective work to find out what has got frelled along the way – anything that stretches the brain is good!
But then there are the really evil, nasty buggers who get through.
I had one in particular today that, by the time the gentleman had hung up on me, I was shaking like a wibbly jelly. Seriously, for five minutes I was incapable of holding a pen. True, this was an exceptionally nasty call (I can normally give as good as I get, water off a duck’s back and all that), but I invariably get one or two a week who take nasty to a whole new level of offensiveness.
I am not a bad person, I will bend over backwards to help you if I can, and I am more than sympathetic to your problems. I totally understand that it is a stressful situation, and you’ve probably spoken to two or three people before me already, but that does not give you license to insult, yell, and verbally abuse me over the phone.
I’ve had one gentleman who did ring back a few days later, very shame faced, and apologised to me for being such a grumpy arse – but that is just one person in five months. I don’t mind that we don’t get more thanks from people. I do mind when people are unnecessarily nasty to me.
So yes, on behalf of every poor hapless person who has to answer a phone in the line of duty, please try to be nice when you ring up to complain. Honey gets you more bees and all that. If you’re nice to me, I’m more likely to search through the twenty two thousand forms that line our office to find your application and fast-track it. If you’re nasty, I have to fight the compulsion to find your form and then hide it so you have to wait another six to eight weeks.