Thursday, September 2, 2010

How To Survive A Busy Call Center

I got a job at the Uhaul call center the summer after I turned 16. It's been two years now, and I have switched departments etc etc,. I've had to deal with a spectrum of different customers calling for multiple services, not just Uhaul. I know how call centers work, so I figured I'd give you guys some tips on how to survive any busy call center.

1. Always have a pen and paper ready!
A lot of the time people call in to get specific information. Whenever you speak with a person write down their name, don't worry about asking them to repeat their name. Also, it does help to get the direct phone number for the department you called so always ask for that just in case. A lot of people call in places with poor reception and it would save you a lot of time if the call drops. And any time they give you a number or figure, or any type of information WRITE DOWN NOTES if you have to. It'll help you with keeping track of what we've told you. And most of the time you can request a copy of the call, just ask the representative.

2. Always expect to wait at least 15 minutes!
During the busy season, call centers tend to hire a lot of part time workers to take the extra calls coming in. Even with all those extra people, wait times can still get high. Especially for Cricket, since they're not open 24 hours. If it's a 24 hour call center, wait times usually aren't TOO bad. But it is better to expect to wait 15 minutes or more before someone can help you. Just because you're at lunch or on break and calling a call center does not mean that the representative has any way of helping you faster than they already are.

3. Before letting them transfer you, get the number!
Sometimes transfers don't go through, whether it be because the call dropped or if the rep put in the wrong extension. Whatever the case, it can take a long time to get back to the right people if the call happens to end before you are helped. If the representative doesn't have a phone number to give you, they should be able to give you the extension numbers. Don't hesitate to ask for the number of where they are transferring you!

4. Be courteous and be patient!!!!
Usually the first person you get in touch with is someone who can't fully fix the problem you are having. They're the filters for every call the call center takes in. The reason is simple: to slim down call times so that they can help as many customers as they possibly can. This actually helps you. If the person you are talking to can't help your problem, what they can do is get you to someone who can! So be patient with them and understand that they have do deal with A LOT of angry customers just like you. Just because you're over the phone, doesn't give you the right to treat another person like shit. It's not their fault. Trust me, just because they're not helping you right now, doesn't mean that they aren't helping you out in the long run. They will most likely know who you NEED to talk to instead of who you want to talk to.

 If only I had one of these for those really difficult customers.

5. Don't curse!
Nothing slows down the conversation more than curse words. Let me put it this way: If you were waiting in line at a grocery store and you just started cursing at the person behind the register, you would get negative feedback. You wouldn't be helped at all. So do your self a favor and be calm over the phone, don't raise your voice. It'll make it easier for you, AND the representative.

This could be you!

Nothing confuses the representative more than if you don't listen to what they're saying. If you aren't listening to them and start talking nonsense it just puts a huge roadblock to getting what you want. Listen to every word intently and write down the important stuff, and if you're confused just repeat what they said as much as you understand it or ask questions to clear things all up.

7. No shooting the shit.
 I understand that you are a talkative person and have so many interesting stories and I know you are a nice person. But please, for the love of god don't tell us your life's story! WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO LISTEN TO YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY. It's not that we don't care about you, we do enjoy a nice customer but it's REALLY awkward to have to listen about your ten cats, or how you're lonely, or how your husband passed away last year, or how your kids never talk to you, or how your sister's a bitch. Please just keep it to yourself and keep it simple. If you have called the call center multiple times and have had to repeat your story a million times, know this: We only need to know your name and phone number, any reference number you have, and what's wrong or what needs fixing, or what needs to be done. That's it. That's all they need to know unless it's some weird fucking situation and they need to know every detail. If you need to get in touch with a manager the representative usually can't just transfer you over to them. They have to tell the manager who you are and what the issue is. Then the manager can choose to deny or accept the call. The only time they'd deny the call is if the manager can't help you.

8. Don't be a managers angel.
I hate when customers who are pissed off mad yell at me. I hate it when they're a jerk for no reason and don't listen. I'm okay with transferring them to a manager. But what really pisses us off is when you're a dick to the call rep, but an angel as soon as you've been transferred to a manager. The managers see through this, and they know you've been a dick. So don't pretend like you didn't just call me a bitch over the phone before transferring you. We have the power to accidentally transfer you to the wrong department.

9. Don't call on Sundays!!!!!!!!!!!!
I understand your problem, and I know that you have issues with the company but you called me on a Sunday so hardly anybody is here. You'll have to call back on Monday during business hours. DON'T CALL ON SUNDAY ASKING FOR A MANAGER. I don't care what days are your days off, Sundays are when the managers AREN'T ON DUTY. Call during the week. If you absolutely have to call on a Sunday to fix a major issues, don't expect much please.

It would make the call go a lot easier if we can hear you. Turn off your stereos, put your baby in its crib and go to the next room. Don't talk to people other than us, it can get really confusing. DON'T CALL US WHILE DRIVING. If you have an accent DON'T GET MAD AT US FOR MAKING YOU REPEAT EVERYTHING or we'll get things wrong. Don't call us while you're shopping. Don't call us while you're on the bus unless you're comfortable giving your information out to us in front of everybody. And make sure when giving us names of places that are spelled WEIRD make sure to spell it out using the speech like: Charly way, C like cat, H like harold, A like apple, R like robert, L like larry, and Y like yellow.

Understand the middle man.
Finally, you must understand what types of call center representatives there are.
  • The Filter: Usually the first human you get to, who is only permitted to perform limited services. If they can't help you, they usually know where you need to be transferred to. Great way to get phone numbers to specific departments.
  • The Assistant: Usually the person that managers forward their calls to whenever they want. This person can usually help you with most things, but if its a really big issue may not be able to and will have to tell the manager to call you back. Never completely assume that you'll get a call back unless they give you a number to call if you aren't contacted within a certain time. Don't be afraid to ask for this number.
  • The Messengers: These are similar to filters, but they usually are the ones who receive information for others when the people you're trying to reach are unavailable. These guys have limited access to the same information that the person you're trying to reach has. Most of the time they're not equipped with direct phone numbers to the person you're trying to reach. They are however able to take a message and request someone call you back. But beware: Just because they said someone'll call you back does not mean that the person will call you back. Call back later to try and reach that person again even if they've sent them a message. Never assume you'll get a call back. ALWAYS GET A CALLBACK NUMBER FROM THE PERSON REQUESTING YOU BE CONTACTED.

Hopefully these tips will help you guys be a customer the call center agent will be glad to assist, rather than their worst nightmare!


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