10 Confessions Of A Telephone Company Customer Service Rep

A current customer service rep at a telephone company tells you what’s really going on on the other side of the line when you call in: abject loathing.

10. While you’re talking, I’m playing computer games.

Usually flash games, because my company allows me to. Otherwise I’d be so bored I would go insane.

9. I can have your problem fixed for you, and generally do, before you’re done talking.

This is true for 90% of the calls I take, my average call length is 45 seconds. What does this mean? It means that you could have fixed it yourself, and instead you decided to be lazy, and call me…


8. I don’t care about your business/website/family/day, so please don’t tell me.

You would be surprised at how many people try to sell me some great idea on the phone. Or how many of them want me to listen about their day for hours on end. I honestly could care less, and you’re not pitching anything I haven’t heard before.

7. If I’ve heard of the company you’ve just signed up with, it wont make you any money.

Typically I receive several calls that begin like,

“Hi, I just signed up with X company, they told me to get a TFN (toll free number) with you, and I was supposed to get this thing setup, how do I do that?”

While he/she was talking, I had already setup their account per the specifications of that company.

“No worries, I’ve heard about that company before. Your account is all setup.”

6. I don’t like you.

It’s the truth, because your interrupting my game play. I play games because I finish all my other work in an hour. The rest of the day is just taking calls from people whom generally don’t know hot to wipe their own ass w/o calling someone.

5. If your initial charge declines, you’re sending us a clear signal: you’re a deadbeat.

Our numbers are very cheap, 2.00 a month + 6.9 cents per minute for the calls. Your first charge is 1 month + the setup fee, which is the same as the monthly charge. First charge on your CC = $4.00. If that charge declines for NSF (non-sufficient funds), you’re letting us know that your going to be a problem customer. That will forever haunt your notes.

4. This has shown up on many lists: be nice.

If you’re nice, I will waive CC (credit card) decline fees ($10.00 with my company.) If you’re nice, I’ll work as hard as I can to process your request. If you’re nice, I’ll talk with my supervisor about getting you an extension, and I’ll go to bat for you. I’ll monitor your account for you, let you know if charges didn’t process, maybe even upload a custom greeting for free for you.

3. Mean people suck.

I understand you’re frustrated, upset, pissed off or just want to yell at someone. But don’t yell at someone who is going to help you. Scream in to your pillow at home, punch the wall, I don’t care. Yelling at me over the phone, tells me that you don’t want to be helped. I will make you feel like an idiot, by saying,

“Sir, I understand your upset, but I will have to terminate this call if you continue to yell at me.”

That generally makes people feel like crap, and 99% of the time they calm down. I say “Sir” for a reason, because if someone is yelling at me, it usually a guy.

2. Don’t try to BS me.

“I’m losing thousands of dollars of business because my line isn’t working.”

If that was true you:
• Would make sure your number was never turned off.
• Wouldn’t be talking to me, I’m a low level CSR, if you were a bigger client you would have your own personal rep to talk to.
• Wouldn’t be yelling at me. People that make that much money, in my experience don’t yell that often.

“My died, thats why my CC declined.”

I’m very sorry for your loss, but you do still owe us money. I would never tell a customer that on the phone, but thats what I’m thinking. Because this is a scam. At the end of a billing cycle, I got no less then 30 of these calls. While it is possible, it’s unlikely. But again, refer to #4, if your nice, I can get you an extension.

1. “Your not listening to me are you?” Your absolutely correct, I’m not listening to a word you say.

In fact, I don’t care about you in the least. I approach all of my calls like a search engine. I’m listening for Key words. Once the key words click in my brain, I fix your problem. Anything else is said, is wasted.

Things to remember the next time you call telephone, or really, any, customer service.

And look, the information originated on our very own message boards. Hotness. — BEN POPKEN

10 Confessions of a Customer Service Rep [ConsumeristForums.com]

Comments

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  1. cncpun says:

    What kind of tips are these? It seems to have been written by an unprofessional call rep. who either is on a powertrip, or is trying to qualify their meaningless job and should be fired.

  2. SpyMaster says:

    What a smart-azz…no wonder you work a low-life job as a phone rep. And maybe you should learn to spell before sending in your “story’…you won’t look quite so bad. Your venom is uncoming.

  3. zolielo says:

    So it should go:
    I am …
    I use company X.
    I have problem Y.
    Need any more info?
    Fix the problem, please.

  4. NeoteriX says:

    douche bag.

  5. kerrington.steele says:

    I wonder if all call-center reps are this illiterate and (unreasonably, given their job titles and functions) power-mad? if so, no wonder most calls to people like them are painful and unproductive for the customer.

  6. magic8ball says:

    Wow, do I have to pay extra for the attitude, or is that part of the “service”?

  7. harleymcc says:

    This rep would last 1 day with me

  8. dantsea says:

    I love #2 especially, it takes me back to my own days in the ISP technical support mines. It was amazing how many of our non-commercial accounts were held by Very Important Businessmen Losing Thousands Of Dollars whenever there was an outage.

  9. SOhp101 says:

    Sorry, but this is utterly useless information. This post is beyond pointless; there is NO insider information whatsoever except for the fact that you should be nice, but that’s a universal rule.

    Maybe I should write about my experiences working in an automotive finance industry.. that would be a heck of a lot more interesting than this cr*p.

  10. dantsea says:

    Guess what, kids? This is probably how the majority of call center reps feel about you. I’ve been one and I’ve supervised many (and thank god those days are over and done with). All that counts is how they’re hitting their metrics and expectations. They’re allowed to think — and even say, out of band — whatever they want.

    It can’t seriously come as a shock or surprise to anyone that call centers are filled with people like this. Can it?

  11. bloodr says:

    Sadly this is pretty typical of call reps. I know because I used to be one.

  12. bambino says:

    So first he says “I don’t care about you”, and then admonishes the customer to “be nice”. That’s not a douchebag. That’s a twatwaffle.

  13. kerrington.steele says:

    I don’t think anyone is actually surprised that this is the attitude of call reps. can sympathize with this writer’s obvious exasperation and nihilism, and I imagine those feelings are pretty universal in the industry. However, doesn’t the tone and execution of the piece come off as just bitchy and unsophisticated, not helpful or “insidery”? Perhaps not the best strategy to make readers feel grateful for your oh-so-helpful insights.

  14. bambino says:

    Additionally, I can back up his story that the reps play games while they talk to you. I know someone that used to work for a Sears call center, & not only would they play flash games while talking to you, they’d even play MONOPOLY.

  15. emax4 says:

    I think some of these are correct. I myself have worked as a rep for Dish Network and can agree with a lot of these, except for the playing games. My job required me listening to customers of course, but I liked being able to put the symptoms together like puzzle pieces and solve technical problems, and you could always hear the customer’s happiness in their voice.

    On the other hand, Dish Network is the reason why I refuse to do any more customer service. The only times I wouldn’t listen to them was when they call in for help but spend the first half hour yelling at me for a problem that I never caused. If you had your negotiating abilities robbed from you by the customer (as well as the rules from upper management) you’d be power-hungry too. Otherwise you’d just get paid to put up with people’s complaints all day, and that’s not what I was hired to do. Think about it though: would anyone want that job if a company advertised it that way? No company would allow their employees to go off on an unruly customer, so you bet we have rules like these. Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, or in this case, had to deal with tech, billing, and customer issues for a month.

    Regarding BS, we’ve had people hack our systems, which in turn cost us money. And it sorta did have an effect on us when we had to come in for mandatory overtime.

    I too could solve some tech issues in my head before the customer would finish speaking, but when I gave directions on how to fix it I’d wait for them on the phone to ensue that the problem was resolved before getting off the phone. If it wasn’t resolved I’d stay on the phone or put the customer on hold until I could find someone who knew the answer (and of course you’d have to get on the phone every so many seconds to let the customer know that you hadn’t forgot about them). It’s just too bad that custys were not allowed to get us directly otherwise it would save a lot of misinformation from other reps.

    So yeah, I can relate to this list, but not all CSRs are awful.

  16. Number 9 pisses me off: Do you want a job or not? The people calling are keeping you employed!

    I could understand complaining about people who keep breaking their product but whining because the problem was easy to solve? Dude!

    7 doesn’t make sense. Why would I think it would make me money?

    6 is the heart of the problem. Don’t expect us to feel sorry for you for having your crappy job. You’re stuck in it for a reason.

  17. adamondi says:

    Heaven forbid anyone should actually expect you to do your frakking job. Obviously this person was forced into a life of indentured servitude as a call center rep. And the audacity of customers actually wanting to get service from customer service reps…. How dare they?!?!? Those reps need to go back to playing their stupid flash games and thinking about how disappointing their pitiful lives have turned out to be.

  18. exkon says:

    My bad for interrupting your gameplay, don’t we PAY you?

  19. Brie says:

    I’m trying to think of what an example for #9 would be. I can set up my own 800 number? I shouldn’t have to call in for that?

    But it does sound like this person’s company caters to people who want to Make Money Fast. (You set up an 800 number because someone *told* you to?) That’s gotta suck.

  20. chipslave says:

    SOme of this is true, but most of it is not in my experience.

    I have worked several CSR jobs and most of the call centers I worked at we were ot able to play games and stuff.

    Also, I cared about my customers and I know that the people around me cared as well, as long as they were nice to us. Often, whens call were completed they would get a survey, which almost everything is based off of, so why would I want to make an enemy and get a low score? Makes no sense to me…

  21. rodeobob says:

    Disclaimer: once upon a time, I too was a phone-pony doing CSR. It was a menial job, frustrating and unrewarding, repetitive and generally miserable.

    It’s not hard to see how someone gets to be jaded and bitter like this person. So allow me to ‘translate’ these 10 points into more gentle language…

    #10: While the CSR is talking to you, they’re also doing something else. Playing games would be nice; most call-centers have CSRs also handle mail complaints or do other work in addition to handling calls. You are not the center of their attention, but that’s OK, because…

    #9: If you’re calling with a problem, your problem is probably not unique, rare, or even uncommon. Give the most basic details, and let the CSR drive the call with questions. Odds are, they won’t need to ask many questions, and you’ll get your problem solved quicker.

    #8: CSRs are judged on metrics, and those metrics include “calls taken” and “average call time”. Discussing anything but business with a CSR hurts their evaluation. If you really want to be nice to a CSR, don’t talk about things unrelated to your issue.

    #7: See points 8 & 9 above; the service you’re asking for isn’t unique, exotic, or odd. Talking more than you need to hurts the CSRs numbers. “I’m calling to set up a toll-free number because I’ve signed up with company X” is all you need to say. Asking “how do I do that” is unnecessary; either the CRS will do it for you, or tell you what you need to do. Saying anything about the company is equally unnecessary.

    #6: CSRs are supposed to be “friendly” without being your friend. They will be polite and sound nice; don’t mistake that with wanting to do anything but resolve your call as efficently as possible.

    #5: a corillary to point 10 is that you, as a customer, are probably not unique, rare, or uncommon in your behavior. CSRs don’t use a “1% solution” to handling customers; if your early behavior makes you look like a problem-case, its probably because you are. Treat all first-impressions with a company (whether its with a sales person, the CEO, or a CSR) with equal gravity. Just because a CEO is paid more than a CSR doesn’t make it OK to waste either of their time.

    #4 & #3: CSRs are people, not automated systems. This means they’re vulnerable to manipulation, either intentionally or unintentionally. Yelling at a person makes them not like you, and human beings tend to do less for people they don’t like, and more for people they do like. Yes, it’s selfish, and that nice people get better treatment than rude people might even be considered ‘unprofessional’. But them’s the breaks, folks. If you’re bothered by this idea, don’t be rude.

    #2: see points 10 & 5; your account, as a customer, is probably not unique, rare, or even uncommon. Not only that, but CSRs have access to a lot of information about your account, including history and often notes from previous calls. So exaggerating your claims, or trying to argue for ‘one-time’ exceptions more than once, are efforts doomed to failure. Yes, unusual circumstances do occur, but CSRs take enough calls in a day/week/month to have a good gauge of what is “unusual”.

    #1: CSRs answer calls to resolve business issues, and nothing else, and do so as efficently as possible. Don’t say anything that doesn’t relate to your reason for calling. Don’t add detail unless the CSR asks for it or unless you feel it is essential in helping make a decision. Don’t add detail after a decision is made.

    Let me add my own points::

    #0: If you have a complaint, have a clear sense of what resoltion(s) you would find acceptable before you make the call. Once you’re made your complaint, wait for an immediate response, and if there is none, ask for your resolution(s). CSRs, like everyone else, are happiest if you not only tell them what is wrong, but what can be done to make you happy. Not only that, but makes the calls go faster which makes both of you happier.

    #-1: If you’re trying to get a problem fixed, it will fall into one of three categories: things the CSR can resolve, things that require the call to be elevated, and things that can’t be resolved to your satisfaction. Once you’re stated your desired resolution, determine if the CSR can resolve it. If they can’t fix it, don’t waste any more time. (your or theirs) Escalate the call immediately. The second a CSR says “I’m sorry, but I can’t…” immediately (and politely!) escalate to the next level.

  22. tadiera says:

    Wow. Aren’t you all polite. How much customer service have you worked? After a week like I’ve had, I feel exactly like this person.

    I do sudoku on calls. I have ADD. While I’m listening to someone prattle on about their day, I can either stare off into space, or keep myself focused. So I play sudoku or I knit. Deal with it.

    And yes, be nice. I deal with so many whiny people in a day that those that approach things in a polite and professional manner are a breath of fresh air.

    Is this person coming across as bitchy? Maybe. But what you all are implying is that we call center reps shouldn’t care how badly you treat us and still laugh and smile and be wonderful little pieces of sunshine. I’m sorry- when did the world start revolving around you?

    The average customer of my company “pays” for mere pennies of my paycheck. And 9 times out of 10… it’s not the customer that upsets the rep. It’s the job. All my management cares about is how many calls I take. They don’t give a fuck how well I take the call: just that it’s done. I get chewed out and treated like crap if I go over 20 minutes on a call. “Doing my job” is getting you off the phone and squared away as quickly as possible to take the next call.

    Is it a good system? No. But it’s what call centers have devolved to. And if you’re treating me badly… well screw you. I’m not taking YOUR abuse and my supervisors getting angry at me.

    I had a customer today who was polite and the technician ANOTHER department sent out made a mistake. I could have just dumped her into their queue. However, because she was polite, I sat there and played phone tag and worked with my management to get the issue fixed and the technician straight back out.

    I had another customer today who wasn’t satisfied with getting 2mbps. We guarantee 768k to 3mbps. He wanted the full 3. And despite the contract he signed stating he’d get between the 768k and the 3mbps, he wouldn’t quit whining. If your phone lines can’t handle the highest speed- I’m sorry, I can’t do anything. I can TRY and I did, but I had to sit there and suffer his whining and insulting me to do it. Did I rush him off the line? Yes. Did I adopt a bored tone of voice? Yes. Why? Not because I’m bad at my job, but because he expected me to do something that I and countless other reps were incapable of doing (I can set your speed at it’s highest- but if YOUR lines can’t handle it, I can’t do anything about that) and was treating me poorly when I apologized, repeatedly, and tried to explain.


    So before you judge this person, try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to think of how you’d feel after 40+ hours a week of listening to people complain, insult you, and get upset over things that, easily half the time, is their own fault (“What do you mean my connection got locked for downloading that movie!?”, “You mean I have to leave this plugged in?”, “It said I had a virus, but I thought that didn’t matter.”)….

  23. brettro82 says:

    What a jerk. How does useless garbage like this even get posted?

  24. Seacub says:

    It’s true, this is how call center CSRs feel about most customers. Keep in mind you aren’t the only one that CSR talks to in a day. Much abuse is doled out by many customers who have called before you that day. It adds up over time, it chips away at your soul and makes you a jaded, bitter person who trusts no one (more than half of the customer I ever dealt with were blantant liars, CSRs know when you are exaggerating to try to get your way). After several years in technical call centers I finally had to leave, the abuse and attitudes from know-it-all customers sucked. Oh, and “lowly” CSRs as someone stated above? I made around $50k in my early 20′s, and no it wasn’t sales. Don’t blame the CSRs, blame their management and the nature of the business for forcing their behavior. Oh, and blame previous customers who have tried every trick in the book to get unreasonable discounts, refunds or services. Be nice and be honest even if it means swallowing your pride and admitting that you didn’t understand contract terms or screwed up and made a mistake. You’ll be amazed at how far that will get you.

  25. rugger_can says:

    Having been employed as a rep for a number of companies in a number of fields I can honestly say that this guy’s tone and opinion is pretty much in line with anyone who’s done the job for a long period of time.

    The fact of the matter is in service calls (ie non technical) there’s only so much lateral space one can work in. Your drive to help people becomes suffocated. You are not “allowed” to do whatever possible to resolve issues and often you know what needs to be done to fix that issue but you cannot step outside company policy to do so. Or simply your “tools” cannot perform those functions.

    So after long periods of wanting to help people but constantly being frustrated that you cannot, coupled together with the fact that people often berate and insult CSRs they will (like anyone) change (usually slowly and unnoticed) their outlook.

    No longer will they genuinely wish to resolve a problem they will form negative emotions to associate with the client. There by allowing them to do what is required to keep their low paying job.

    CSR’s will often begin to want to end every call as quickly as possible and only “stick to the metrics” and often follow company policy to the letter. This usually leads the guy/girl to have very little job satisfaction and they will often project that newfound anger toward a customer by taking pleasure in denial of service that they are either unable to not allowed to provide. So it become a sick and twisted game almost.

    Usually the best advice for anyone calling a “customer service desk” is to.

    1. Stick to the facts, Tell them only what you need too.

    2. Be polite and business oriented, maintain your decorum and avoid harsh language and insults. Often these people are under employed, Show them mercy.

    3. Know what you want and let them know too, others have said it before. Don’t call with the problem call with what you want done. X is broken I want it fixed/replaced/money back. If the guy your talking too can’t do that then move on to the next (escalate). Remember though many call centers punish for escalations, be polite and let the person you escalate too know that the previous person did all they could (if they infact did). Seriously show some humanity. :)

    4. Let your dollars do the talking. If this company cannot provide a fair solution to legitimate issues. Then don’t buy their products or services, and be sure to visit consumerist and let everyone know about it.

  26. tedyc03 says:

    Wow…

    That’s all I can really say is “wow…”

    I mean when I was a CSR I would do other things…while you rattle on about your life I’m really looking for three pieces of information: who you are, what your problem is, and how you’d like me to deal with it.

    But Jesus, this guy makes me think he WANTS to be rude to the customer.

    I didn’t hate on my customers…in fact I was usually thankful that they called me rather than trying it themselves (“No, sir, you shouldn’t have put that screwdriver in the CD-ROM drive…”).

  27. kennethn says:

    #11 – Learn the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Geez that drives me nuts.

  28. ptkdude says:

    @rodeobob: Great post Rodeo.

    I used to work in a collections call center, and trust me: I’ve heard every “excuse” in the book. We cut your phone off because you didn’t pay the bill. You know that’s why we cut it off.

    For the record: I got pulled off the phones in that job when a customer called to say she couldn’t pay the bill right then because her father had died and she was on the way to bury him. After reading the notes and discovering her father had already died 4 times in the past 2 years, I advised her she could have the funeral procession stop at a local store to pay her bill. There was dead silence on the other end of the phone for a few seconds before she hung up.

  29. Gabriel says:

    Well, if this guy is telling the truth about how he approaches his job, he is the only rep i’ve ever known that actually solves problems on the first call. From my experience people get mad and yell after they’ve been one the phone for 1 hour, 30 minutes on hold, waiting for someone to tell them that they are sorry, but they can’t do anything to solve the problem.

  30. Karl says:

    $10 for a declined credit card?! That’s totally outrageous.

    There are plenty of reasons for a card to be declined. Mine was declined at a restaurant because the fraud detectors caught someone just a few hours prior charging $200 in groceries, then $400 in groceries, and then a $1500 Apple Store purchase to my card. I had the card; someone stole the number. If the card wasn’t automatically killed, they could have easily racked up more charges that same day.

    I’ve also had my card declined when my bank’s computer systems go down, or when the credit card networks have a hiccup (debit mode worked fine).

  31. Buran says:

    Wow, angry because someone expects you to stop playing games and do your job? No one’s going to feel sorry for you. If you want to be able to play games and not be bothered, why don’t you quit your job and go play WoW all you want?

    Oh, right. You want to get paid to do nothing.

    Not happening.

    No wonder you haven’t told us who you work for — you’d get fired if your bosses knew about this attitude.

  32. Vinny says:

    That he worked “mean people suck” into a list of how he hates customers is the pinnacle of f’ed up irony.

    What a piece of garbage.

  33. Pelagius says:

    YOUR RETARDED

    And a jerk, too.

  34. rugger_can says:

    @Buran:

    Its a natural human reaction to circumstances. People when faced with adversity will compensate to deal with this. Some simply move on, some let their anger get the better of them.

    It sucks. One thing I’d like to point out is that this type of attitude is usually limited to contracted call centers. Companies that take calls FOR another company. Their employee’s are often under paid, neglected in terms of motivation and job security and are often poorly trained.

    This could all be avoided with more direct contact with their reps. Companies that rank highest in the industry are often the ones that employ their reps directly. Usually paying considerably more and working harder to ensure they are both trained properly and motivated.

  35. Slytherin says:

    Her* (His?)attitude in the confessions make her (him?) sound like an arrogant bitch (jerk?).

    *I have a feeling it’s a confession from a woman, but to be p.c., I included male pronouns.

  36. Slytherin says:

    @cncpun:
    That’s why the are reps, making $6 an hour. They can’t cut it in the real world.

  37. Voyou_Charmant says:

    Backed 100%. I work licensing for a software company and my job is to help you get your software working/get you the proper number of licenses, etc.

    Yelling and arguing and telling me how YOU do things or trying to make a philosophical arguement as to WHY you shouldn’t purchase the proper number of licenses will not get you anywhere, because with very very very few exceptions, i’m right and you are wrong.

    @buran, i think you are missing his underlying point: call, get to the point, be nice = problem solved.

    Dont tell elaborate stories (true or not), dont make excuses, dont act like you’re best buddies, dont dick around. Just get to the point, nicely and quickly.

  38. Voyou_Charmant says:

    I like that everyone here thinks he is a jerk for wanted to get through a call without some guy (or girl) making excuses, yelling at/lying to/making small talk with him.

    I’m sure his boss likes the fact that he wants to get the calls done as quickly as possible.

  39. chichi says:

    Yeah, not really understanding the vitriol directed at this post. It’s harsh, but it’s completely honest. Or maybe that’s the problem.

    Retail workers, food service drones, customer service reps, hotel help; whatever the label, whatever the sector, one thing is certain: these people don’t like you. They don’t. Pointblank. And they have good reason not to. People, on their own, are more or less well-meaning and good. At least tolerable. The Public, the animal we work with on the other hand, is whiny, indignant, entitled, vulgar, pushy, rude, and mindblowingly filthy. Also stupid. So stupid. Nearly without exception.

    I work in retail now, and while I consider myself to be, in general, a pretty nice person, I can tell you that after three months, I hated The Public with an all-consuming, burning, twitching, righteous passion I’ve never known. Just day after day, it becomes so bad that after this constant stream of bastards just absolutely berating you for mistakes that ninety-five percent of the time are entirely their fault, one chick says “How are you?” in a semi-sincere way and you’re ready to comp her entire order because she made you feel human again.

    This is probably seeming like a pretty broad brush I’m using, but it’s no broader than the one painting all customer service industry workers as “failures” who “can’t cut it in the real world.”

  40. Chris says:

    Nothing new here. Be nice, get to the point, and many CSRs are immature, self-centered, bitter tools. Sigh.

  41. Buran says:

    @Pelagius: “you’re” ;) … sorry, just too perfect an opportunity.

  42. smarty says:

    you can (mostly) tell who worked in customer service and who didn’t by their comments above (and below). Through career changes, I no longer do customer service work. But #4 is the most important and true statement in the vast majority of cases. Not only be nice to call center reps, but how about treating all people nicely? Because of that experience, I’ve never had trouble once I get on a call with CSRs (after the crazy prompts) or when I deal with any retail employee from stores to restaurants.

  43. smarty says:

    @smarty:
    the benefits have been nice (first class seats – will be my 3rd time in 1st class for the price of discount coach, lower than advertised credit card interest rates, new cell phone every year while only extending a contract for 1 yr instead of 2, etc…) It really works.

  44. MentalDisconnect says:

    Look, I haven’t worked in call service, but I have worked in customer service many times. I don’t know if the standards are completely different for being on the phone versus face-to-face, but here’s how it is as a normal customer service person.

    1) Yes, you could have spent 45 seconds solving the problem yourself (e.g. finding the bathroom, getting sauce packets), and I’ve heard it all before, but I’ll just tell you, because it’ll only take 45 seconds of my time now.

    2) I don’t really want to hear your life story, but in case you tell me, I shall become an expert in smiling and nodding. I may think about my plans after work, but no game playing! Kinda obvious when they’re right there.

    3) I never worked in a place where large amounts of money were at stake, so I tended to trust the customer. If they said they had some special pass letting them in free, but left it at home, but were nice to me, hey, I’ll let you in.

    4) Do I care about you? I care about solving your problem in as quick and as polite a manner as possible, if only to make my job less stressful. I care about you as much as you can about a stronger.

    5) Does being nice count? Absolutely. You may get perks, and a good dose of niceness and patience can make my day. Being mean? You’ll get the bare minimum of service, and influence how I deal with customers after you.

    6) Smiles and infinite patience, while difficult and draining, will stand out to people. You could end up being the nicest person they’ve talked to all day, and sometimes customers reciprocate with really nice gestures of their own. (One customer say me getting lunch outside of work and he came over and bought my lunch for me.)

    The bottom line? I guess because it’s over the phone that people feel like they can be rude, but why get that job unless you can be decent to people? I’m not really a people-person, I’m rather introverted and not really cheerful or enthusiastic.. but I fake it for the sake of customer service. I did this in various jobs, 8 hours a day, in uniforms, and on my feet. I have sympathy for these CSRs in that they may have just dealt with a tough customer, but still, did they never learn about customer service they way I did? This person’s attitude is unacceptable.

    Give as you get. If both parties treat each other like people, everything will work out.

  45. harleymcc says:

    @tadiera:

    “I have ADD….deal with it.”

    No, take your meds and do your job.

    That’s how I’d deal with you.

  46. humphrmi says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen a more pointless post, unless the point was to show what an imbecile the author is.

    Everyone’s doing a good job tearing apart that trash, here’s my $0.02:

    What does this mean? It means that you could have fixed it yourself

    Awww, poor baby. We interrupted your precious flash game playing time to do your job, for the company who we pay. And what do you suggest, DIY billing adjustments? DIY cancellations? How ’bout your employers maybe make those features available on their webpages, so we can do it ourselves? Then they can fire your self-aggrandizing butt and you can go home and play flash games.

    By the way, people who play flash games are lusers with not enough technical acumen to even pick a decent vice with which to pollute their obviously flatulence infested brains.

  47. Nick says:

    Agreed. I think people forget that customer service is there to help solve your problem with their product or service. They are not there to be your friend. They don’t care what you did today, yesterday, or last week. That don’t care that your aunt/grandmother/stepsister’s uncle-in-law just died. Sure, that’s sad, but honestly I don’t know you personally, and I can’t solve that problem, so don’t waste your breath or my time. It’s not a contradiction for the CSR to expect you to be realistic and to be nice at the same time.

  48. jaewon223 says:

    I fail to see how this empowers the consumer. I’m not sure if the author is being facetious or sarcastic or serious, however it sure sounds like he/she doesn’t enjoy doing their job. Providing excellent customer service may not be the most exciting job, but sometimes once in awhile you come across a really grateful person that you helped and it can make it worth it.

    Most of the times not..

  49. Anonymously says:

    Pet Peeve: It’s “couldn’t care less”. If you “could care less”, you’re saying that you “care somewhat”.

  50. etinterrapax says:

    I don’t think I’d have phrased it quite this way, but having done this job, I can tell you that this is exactly what I’d be now if I’d stayed long enough for it to completely relieve me of my soul. It’s nothing personal about people who call in. It’s just that it’s an occupational hazard of this kind of job–you get contemptuous of people. I felt the same way when I worked in retail, and there are days when I feel that way about teaching. Not as many, thank goodness, because my students need more from me than that, and if there ever were, I’d quit out of respect for them. But I’d have the luxury of quitting. Not everyone does. I’m not saying the list wasn’t bitchy and dismissive. I’m just pointing out something that we all know but tend to forget when we get on our high horses about these things: it could happen to anyone with average internal resources and whatever reasons for not being able to leave.

  51. dantsea says:

    @chichi: I think your first two sentences explain quite a number of the nasty responses here. I have to wonder how many of them have referred to customer service reps as “phone droids” or “sales droids” or some other demeaning, dehumanizing term? And when the “droids” push back, oh my god, they’re human and they don’t like me and they said so, how dare they!

  52. snazz says:

    this sounds like a rant that was posted on craigslist

  53. raceroh says:

    When this jackoff has his job outsourced to India he’ll be the first to bitch to anyone in earshot…but the drone of the dishwasher he is loading at the local Waffle House will muffle his whiny ass.

  54. Namilia says:

    Heh. I used to work as a Customer Service Rep in a Call Center too. I was one of the “nicer” agents while I worked there. While I agree that she is acting unprofessional, I understand a degree of what she is saying. I disagree with playing games on free-time, where I worked people who were caught doing that even on the slowest of days (Saturday) were fired. The agents are under pressure from higher ups to not show sympathy but apathy – to pretend they care but to actually BS the person about how much “we care”…at this I failed, heh.

    Most of what she says (IE – dont talk about your life/i dont care about you) is more than likely not only because of the games, but because such agents need to keep their AHT (Average Handling Time) to a minimum, they are evaluated based on not only the quality of their work but also how long they take each phone call. Their evaluation is worse as AHT goes up.

    I also agree about the nice person/mean people. If you are nice, you will find that the agent generally will be more helpful but if you start losing your cool and start yelling, they have the authority to terminate the call (this is not an empty threat, and yelling at the supervisor does not change this).

    Finally, having seen both ends of the phoneline (literally), I’d like to offer this list in response.

    Things the CSR Should Do

    1. Resolve the issue at hand – After all, this is why I am calling in the first place.

    2. Do NOT take your bad day out on me. I don’t care if your computer crashed on your last customer, or your boyfriend just broke up with you. Regardless of what is going on in your life, treat the customer in a professional manner. If your computer DOES crash, politely explain you are having technical difficulties and either hold on the phone if it is a quick fix or politely ask me to call back at a later time if it is something larger. Which leads to

    3. If the internet is out in the call center, or for whatever reason you cannot help the customer and everyone else in the center is having the same problem, do not answer the phone in a monotone robotic voice. You have no idea how annoying this is, to navigate through the phonetree only to be answered with what you think is an answering machine.

    I’ll probably think of more after I post this, or if anyone wants to add on to that list, feel free.

  55. Ben Popken says:

    The point of this post is to demonstrate what might really be going on behind the friendly greeting.

  56. Namilia says:

    @Ben Popken: Ben, I have no argument, this reflects exactly what I saw in my 6 months as a CSR..

    *humbly steps off soapbox*

  57. vangogh71 says:

    I worked in a Bank Call Center for 8 plus years, (over 100 000 calls in this time frame) while I trained to be a Financial Adviser and I now work for another Bank with High Net Worth Clients doing Financial Planning.

    I agree with most of what the contributor states, though it may have been stated a little too crudely. Unfortunately too many people here can’t handle the bluntness and attack the individual not the underlying argument.

    I would take between 80-120 calls a day (1600 in a month minimum) when I did general Customer Service and 40-60 when I did Credit or Investment Transactions.

    Like the contributor, many times within the first 30 seconds I already determined the problem from the ramblings and completed the solution while the client still was speaking.

    People are sensitive when dealing with their money (they have a right to be) but demeaning me, the gatekeeper on the call is foolish. I can simply disconnect and you need to start all over again.

    Do you know how many times people gave me the line I need to buy food, medicine, diapers etc for my kids so please release the hold on my account (with tears)? You get jaded and maybe a little heartless but you get tired of being manipulated.

    As to doing other things on the phone while talking to a client? Of course I did. I read books, newspapers, websites, played handheld poker etc. I probably took your call 500 plus times in the past year so the answer is not complex. I’m sure you multitask in your work environment and when you call a call center. I have had people eating, going to the bathroom, even taking a bath.

    So please understand the attitude of the writer. Respect and courtesy when dealing with anyone even if they are faceless will benefit you in the long run.

  58. rugger_can says:

    @raceroh:

    And you wonder why they hates you?


    Seriously though. Sometimes we forget that on the other end of the phone there’s an actual person. A living breathing human with their own problems and emotions.

  59. ner0 says:

    I work as tech rep for isp and the best advice I can tell you is “just ask” and if I can relate , i’ll go the extra mile for you

    You’ve been transfered for the 100th times ? ask the rep to stay on the line and get you to whom you need to reach.

    In a outage for the 100th time? ask for a credit .Better yet ask for something reasonable and get it !Out for 2 days ask for a week credit . Most of my coworkers wouldn’t bat an eye at a such a request

    Be reasonable and talk to the rep like there a person that works for the company and not the company.

  60. 5cents says:

    Agreed. They’re just regular people. I used to play flash games at work all the time AND get my work done. Don’t be a dumbass on the phone and if you are at least be courteous. That’s really not much to ask. Civility.

  61. humphrmi says:

    @vangogh71: I understand what you (and the others here) are saying about “Don’t be demeaning to me”. I hear you. Lots of people do. This article / post / whatever, however, isn’t about “Don’t be demeaning, and I’ll help you.” This article / post / whatever is saying “Before you even call me, know that I hate you and want to do anything to make your experience as bad as my life, because you stopped me from playing computer games.”

  62. MentalDisconnect says:

    @humphrmi: Agreed. That’s what upsets me about this posting. There’s nothing wrong with saying that CSRs are people too and they need respect. Yet, this not only gives a bad impression of CSRs, but it makes me think if I call up for help I’d be disrespected. Not a good situation either.

  63. pkchukiss says:

    Well, I can reassure you that whatever is posted is insight into the minds of the representative taking your call. For me, I didn’t become nasty after the n-th nasty customer — for that I had very supportive colleagues and nice bosses to take the edge off; that helps a lot.

    CSRs are not interested in your life, though because of common courtesy, she might stay a little to hear about your story. Of course, that comes at an expense of her performance metrics, so you cannot expect that to happen often.

    And yes, call centres do keep notes on each customer inside a database for accountability reasons (to see if either the rep or customer has been lying), so you might want to ask the rep to note down the resolution (if any) in the database.

  64. a says:

    I wonder if “your” a college graduate.

    from people whom generally don’t know hot to wipe their own ass

    *shudder*

  65. karmaghost says:

    Sounds like this rep is everything that’s wrong with customer service support. If the god’s are merciful, he’ll be fired/killed before the month is out. Fuck you, douche bag.

  66. EtherealStrife says:

    In fact, I don’t care about you in the least. I approach all of my calls like a search engine. I’m listening for Key words. Once the key words click in my brain, I fix your problem. Anything else is said, is wasted.

    Sounds like this bitch needs to be replaced with a machine.

    When you notice an attitude developing in your interactions with callers you should quit. It’s not fair to the callers, who are YOUR EMPLOYERS. Don’t forget that they pay for the computer you’re playing those games on, and the clothing on your back. The only reason why you HAVEN’T been replaced (yet) is for the human touch. And when you pull this uncaring bullshit you’re useless.
    Based on the CSR comments here I imagine it’s about time to fire the entire industry, or outsource it to a country where employees don’t take their jobs for granted. As many issues as I’ve had with Setu or Shivang or Srini over in India, I’ve never received attitude from them.

    @karmaghost: Amen.

  67. Lordy says:

    I’m a call center vet. I’ve worked for many companies handling dozens of contracts. And you have to realize he is right, we will try our hardest when you the customer make it worth it for us. If you call up angry yelling at us berating us we will feel its worthless to stay on the line with you and hang up. I’ve done it a few times, when you have a customer who is verbally abusive and rude. Remember CSR’s are just normal people doing a job We are here to help you only if your civil.

  68. shdwsclan says:

    Yeah, I guess its true, ive never had any trouble with my phone service.

    But when I did call, i had to do twice since they didnt wipe out my long distance fees. I use skype anyways….and you get video….and its free…

  69. Papa K says:

    Of all submissions, this is the winner?

    I worked in a call center, and I used to fire people like this.

  70. I knew it! I knew it!
    I knew that they knew I didn’t know
    (notice the knew, knew, knew, knew, know run)
    how to wipe my own ass and that they didn’t like me!
    Adrienne
    http://adriennezurub.typepad.com/link_addiction

  71. ShiftedBeef says:

    @ EtherealStrife…

    Actually the day may come when all CSRs will be replaced with machines. Call Centre executives are already promoting machinelike behaviour, which is probably why the original poster is so jaded with her job.

    I personally have worked at a call centre tech support agent for 3.5 years, and there have been days where I felt like that, and believe me that attitude is hard to fight.

    The main reason for this attitude is because she no longer needs to know what to do for her job. Any knowledge she has gained previously or during her job is useless because she needs to follow a script to resolve issues over the phone. The job is no longer intellectually stimulating for her, she feels like a zombie now that she is no longer allowed to think. THAT is why she plays games during calls.

    Again, this is not the agents fault. This is the call centre executives who pretty much just tell her what to do, how to react, etc. This is while meeting her metrics.

  72. spanky says:

    Hmmm. This explains why I got such dismal service when I called my RBOC a few years back with a very specific problem that I explained very clearly (the new number I’d been assigned wasn’t fully propagated throughout the network, so if I called from certain places, it didn’t recognize the number as valid and I couldn’t get through).

    I explained it very simply and plainly at first, and told them what to do to resolve it (give me a new number in a different exchange). I explained it to a friend’s small child and he understood what I was saying. CS reps couldn’t. They were too busy playing games and listening for stupid keywords.

    They sent people out two or three times to climb the pole behind my house before I was finally able to talk to one of them and tell her what my problem was. Man, was she pissed. Know what they ended up doing to fix my problem? Exactly what I told them to do ten seconds into my first call.

  73. Peekoos says:

    @Slytherin: Where do reps make $6 an hour? When I was a CSR (and the lowest level one, mind you) I made around $14 an hour plus quarterly bonuses, discounts, and other great incentives. This wasn’t even IT, it was just regular ol’ customer service. Still wasn’t worth it though – I have never been so unhappy at a job before in my life. Although I was very polite and empathetic to every customer I spoke with, I can COMPLETELY understand where the original poster is coming from. Being a CSR sucks ass. Quitting that job was the best decision I had ever made – my quality of life and mindset are SO much better now.

  74. danneskjold says:

    “People that make that much money, in my experience don’t yell that often.”

    I guess they’ve never worked in Hollywood =D

  75. Jae says:

    I absolutely love it when people tell me the customers are the employers. Go ahead, believe that all you want. It’s. Not. True.

    A lot of what the initial post said is correct. (Aside from playing games.) Here’s a shocker, you Mr/Ms Customer are not always correct. In fact most times you are mistaken and/or flat out WRONG. I know what your contract says, I have it in front of me. If you didn’t take the time to read and understand it, that is not the company’s fault.

    If you are polite, and nice and genuinely have a problem I will bend over backwards to remedy the situation. I will take it to a supervisor for whatever overrides are necessary.

    HOWEVER, if you are like most people who have commented about how stupid CSRs are, I will tell you too bad, so sad. And guess what, I have policy to back me up.

    I have had my supervisor override the contract’s explicit verbiage because customers were pleasant and polite. I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to anyone.

  76. MentalDisconnect says:

    @Jae:
    I’m not disagreeing and saying people have free reign to be disrespectful. I’ve worked in customer service a lot, I’ve been there, I know how much niceness and rudeness can change my attitude. I’m just saying that the post is rude and not that helpful. Be nice. I got it. I am extremely nice. If that’s all we need to know, why this? Maybe we need some confessionals from customer service people about what kind of perks being nice can cause them to give. Otherwise, this post just makes it sound like by picking up the phone for an issue, I am ruining the CSR’s day, that she hates me, and is not paying attention. When I need help I want help, not attitude.

  77. Namilia says:

    @peekoos: I’m not sure when you worked, or where you worked, but when I was a CSR it was $8/hr starting and the place was notorious for having a high turnover rate. The same company I used to work for now has an ad in the newspaper advertising the starting rate is now $9.50/hr so I figure it probably varies depending on which company you work for but also which client you work for.

  78. poornotignorant says:

    To any csr: If I’m angry when I’m talking to you it’s because your company has already frustrated me beyond my ability to “be nice”. It’s not a choice to be angry, but it is a choice when a company’s customer service sucks. So complain to your supervisor or quit or solve the damn problem, but don’t take it out on me.

  79. s256 says:

    rodeobob and tadiera have made excellent posts.

    In my experience, a CSR’s frustration can primarily be with the company they’re working for. If your techs don’t show up, I know it won’t happen for you that day. There is nothing I can do about it and it frustrates the hell out of me.

    The “I’m a very important business man and I’m losing thousands of dollars because my service isn’t working!” line is incredibly overused. I’ve never done this, but as soon as this line is uttered, a lot of CSR’s will go ahead and report business use as a violation of the terms of service.

    It’s just not a very fun job. Angry people only make it worse, that’s one very important point. I think this article may have been written after a terrible day at work. :p

  80. rugger_can says:

    Everyone has the right to be angry. However, no matter how angry you are you do not have the right to verbally abuse another human being, ever.

    Period.

  81. kicksandwax says:

    Ok, I work in a customer service role (on the phone), so I thought I’d weigh in here.

    I think some people here are missing the point. Call center workers are human beings. Of course they’re going to form opinions and attitudes about/towards the types of callers they get. It doesn’t mean they take it out on the customers. I’ve been awarded recognition for my customer service skills, and I frequently am told by customers that they found me very polite/helpful. This is because I keep my opinions and attitudes to myself. I’m never rude to callers. On the contrary, the ruder the caller, the more polite I am. It’s in my best interests to be polite especially since it is usually the key to defusing difficult situations.

    I think most people would be amazed at the amount of ridiculous calls people make. Where I work we really don’t get very many calls that are even warranted. The majority of calls to call centers (around 70% I would say) are unnecessary, and come from people who are too lazy to read the manual/accompanying paperwork. Believe it or not, companies know this, and put in place strategies to reduce the number of calls people make. Companies also impose numerous criteria on their call center operators – statistics are gathered, calls are monitored, and workers are pushed to be more efficient. So guess what? When you make a call, I don’t have time to listen to the story of your day. I want to know what the issue is, and how I can solve it for you. And I’m required to do this as quickly as possible by my employer.

    As far as the comment someone made about the fact that customers only yell and get angry because the company frustrated them: That argument doesn’t wash. I’m not the company. I’m not buddies with the CEO. I don’t enjoy any kickbacks from the massive profits the company returns. I’m not even particularly well paid. I’m just the person answering the phone. It’s within my means to help you with your complaint. But if you get mad and yell, you diminish your own credibility. Intelligent people simply do not yell at someone they want help from. It’s extremely counter-productive. So by yelling and getting mad, you’re only illustrating the fact that you don’t deserve to be taken seriously. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is.

  82. tallproducer says:

    This guy is right and that is totally what a CSR’s typical day would consist of. Repetitive questions and 75% dumb ass customers. The other 25% are generally nice and have legit problems. Like right now I answered about 20 calls in a matter of 10 minutes. There’s currently 6 waiting for me to answer their questions right now which will most likely be “where’s my serial number?” So if everyone has the right to be angry us CSR’s should have the right to be angry too. Especially if we deal with morons alot of the time.

  83. Wormfather says:

    I usually justify my reading of this site during business hours because the site is informational…well this was just entertaining…now I have to work for the next hour to make up for it.

    Thanks alot!

  84. mst3kzz says:

    I thought these CSR people were supposed to have people skills. PEOPLE SKILLS!!!

  85. watchout5 says:

    I don’t understand how people assume he’s not doing a job and should be fired because of it. I also don’t get where people think this attitude ever makes it to the customer…in fact the very reason for posting this was because he wants everyone to know what REAL call centers THINK about you not tell you something you already know.

    He’s right though, 90% of any calls I take could EASILY be answered within 10-15 seconds and all the information is given already. I’m like a talking google with a brain, you say the right keyworsd and I have 3 different educated sounding responses all lined up for you. It all sounds professional and that’s all that really matters right? I mean why give 2 shits about what your CSR is doing if he’s making the customer happy and he’s doing his job…right?

  86. Canadian Impostor says:

    Bad attitude? Poor grasp of grammar? What a surprise that this person has a job where they talk to the public on a telephone.

  87. EtherealStrife says:

    @watchout5:

    I mean why give 2 shits about what your CSR is doing if he’s making the customer happy and he’s doing his job…right?

    The problem is when they’re 0 for 2. If a CSR can meet both of those then they could be using their computer to surf porn, or whatever the heck they want and I wouldn’t care. The problem is when they’re just further frustrating the callers and not fixing the problems presented, all the while playing games. Perhaps they’d be just as useless if they weren’t playing games, but we don’t know that.

  88. ScottIWU says:

    While my customer service experience was limited mostly to face-to-face service, I feel a lot of what this poster was saying, even if it was crude and poorly written.

    I worked a year and a half at Panera Bread; it’s not the same as being a CSR necessarily, but I could feel much of what people have said in these posts. In that time, I became so jaded about how to treat customers when they approached me. To echo what people have said in this many times, it really sucks being seen just as another faceless tool to get what the customer wants. I cannot name the number of times that during the dinner rush at Panera I screwed up taking someone’s order. Why did this happen? Because the customers behind Person 1 are slowly getting upset that they have to wait their spot in line and I am, as the person taking orders, clearly to blame for their time wasted.

    Very often customers would gently approach me and point out that I had not taken their order correctly. When I was asked nicely I very often took the time to run to the line and tell the people making the sandwiches to correct my mistake. Problem solved and I was happy to do it.

    It was when the already entitled customers approached me, the humble part-time teenager with a holier-than-thou attitude telling me (quite brusquely) that I had screwed up their order and they WANTED it fixed immediately. Did I fix it? Yes, because that was part of my job. Was I happy about it? No. Often, to make up for my mistake, I even threw in a free bagel. Did the people who were rude get that? Of course not.

    I know this sentiment has been echoed, but in dealing with customers, I start off wanting to help. The only reason I ever stop wanting and lose my cheery demeanor is because the customer made it so. “Do unto others…” applies well here and if you consider if you’d want to be treated the way you’re treating the representative, you’ll probably notice a change in the way you act.

  89. polyeaster says:

    I’ve worked in call center customer service for 5 years, and although the aforementioned gentleman obviously could use some spelling/grammatical assistance, I can understand where he is coming from. He has been working with the same company for far too long, and has become disillusioned. From personal experience, people do alot of the things he mentions in his letter…very annoying. However; as much as I’d love to say/do some of the things expressed here, I recognize that demoralizing my customers over the phone is not going to make me feel better about my shitty job. Most people mean well on the telephone, and I’d go so far as to say that some people are just lonely…it’s not my job to entertain them, but simple courtesy is expected.

    And regarding the flash games- I’m pretty sure that this individual’s company does NOT allow him to play games. Based on my experience, this person’s company probably overlooks the fact that most of their reps are playing on the internet as long as they “do their job” sufficiently, and stay off the radar. This allows them to focus on heavier issues, such as why they can’t keep warm bodies employed and on the cubefarm taking calls. And such is the circle of call-center life.
    Time for you to find a new job, buddy…you’ll be happier, and so will your customers (for a while).