CSR Reveals His Most-Hated Customer Cliches

The other day we asked readers to vent about those cliched phrases they hate to hear from the mouths of customer service reps. And boy-howdy did you vent. Now it’s time to hear from someone who works in the trenches as a CSR about those tired tropes he’s sick of hearing customers utter over the phone.

The reader–let’s call him Jim– works at a call center for a credit union and wrote us to share a few of his least favorite customer statements:

1. “I have been with your bank for XX amount of time”
We know. We look at your account history.

2.“I will take my money elsewhere”
Go ahead, it really does not bother us. Honestly. You never do or if you do you will come back. Unless of course you are carrying a very hefty deposit.

3. “Last time you guys did this and that”
That was last time sir/ma’am. We look at everything on a case by case basis or just our mood.

4. “I have a close relationship with your CEO”
Chances are you do not, but if you feel inclined to say that, please provide some proof other than his name. We do not fall for that.

5. “I’ll Sue”
Boy we love to hear this. It almost makes the call worthwhile. We laugh all day at your expense, basically you make the mistake and try to blame us for it. Classic! We have a team of lawyers who we do pay a boatload of cash to make things go away. They are professionals, but try us.

More from Jim:

It’s not that we are not empathetic or sympathetic to your situation, sometimes this job does not allow for compassion as we are on a time constraint (i.e., We have a 3 to 4 minute talk time that we can spend with you; anymore time we spend and we are basically getting a reprimand at a later date or on our performance evaluations), so please excuse me for not making small talk and asking how the kids are doing.

I genuinely want to help but do not skirt around the issue be upfront and clear. When I ask you for your account number please do not reply with “oh man you know what I left that in my wallet in my pants after dinner last night and I was so tired this morning I forgot to bring my wallet with me”. You either have it or you don’t.

Next point: Do not get mad when I verify your information. It’s part of the process and I have no control over that. Do you want identity theft? No, guess what — we do not either, so we do this to try and salvage some of that.

Now when it comes to your issue or question please get to it. No need for a long backstory unless it really does have to deal with your problem.

Third, if I can solve it for you I will. I place you on hold just to update notes and sometimes clear with our supervisor especially if we are refunding fees for you.

The supervisor or manager is always available honestly. We choose to “see” if they are available if you are being too much of an annoyance or pain. You ever notice when you want to congratulate us one is always available and when you are being difficult (yelling or screaming) they are not?

Also, please and thank you go a long way…

To address that whole “my manager will tell you the same thing” is because they will. In general we are more compassionate than our managers who have been at the position for a longer time than we have been working and are jaded and spiteful. Your best solution is just to deal directly with a lowly Customer Service Rep. We still have compassion.

Simply put, when you are calling in do not make small time. I do not have the time and I am sure you do not either…

Ask for the solution you want; if we can accommodate you we will. If not we will try to find a middle ground. Third, the manager really is not a good option. Us bottom feeders are best. We are still human, and please extend the same courtesies we extend to you, it will make things smoother and easier and faster, so we can get you off the phone and on to the next poor sap.

What do you think of Jim’s comments? We’d especially love to hear from those of you who work or have worked in call centers.

Comments

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  1. dragonfire81 says:

    “1. “I have been with your bank for XX amount of time”
    We know. We look at your account history.”

    When I was a CSR that did cell phone support I did not always look at the length of time the account had been with us so occasionally this was useful information when determining a resolution, BUT I would say a good 90% of the calls I took it wasn’t relevant how long the customer had been with us anyway.

    • BarbiCat says:

      Most of the time it’s a lie, anyway.

      The company I work for has only exist in my province for the past ten years. And yet, customers who have always lived in this city will tell me “I’ve been with you guys for TWENTY YEARS!”

      Obviously, I am intrigued. Perhaps they have some time-travel device I do not know about. Or maybe time passes twice as slowly for them as it does for everyone else…

      • jefeloco says:

        Your comment doesn’t fly with me. I have never lived in a town with a USAA branch yet I have been a USAA member, and have used their banking services since 1991. If USAA ever decides to build a branch in Idaho (please, please, please), that will not reset my account history just because it is the first in my state/province. Darn those all encompassing logical fallacies!

        • BarbiCat says:

          Well, considering I work for a cable company, I’d be very interested in hearing how someone has local TV service with a provider who was three provinces away.

          Now, if they were to say “I’ve been a provider for X years and have kept services over several different addresses/moves”, that’s different. But saying “I’ve been with you for 20 years at this address” when I can see the account is three months old and has never been transferred, well, either they’re lying or there’s been breaks when they didn’t have our service.

    • YamiNoSenshi says:

      I had some fees on a botched credit card payment (my fault) refunded and they said it was because I was a good customer for some number of years. So it can help sometimes.

    • sonneillon says:

      Pizza hunt once sent my mom a free pizza when she was unhappy with a pizza they sent her. “The person on the phone said mam you’ve ordered 54 pizzas in 5 months we will send you another one and give you a credit.”

  2. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Long story short:

    People are dicks all around. ;3

    - – – -

    Curious absence of anything remotely resembling a reference to a CSR call script. Do you think ‘Jim”s story might’ve been edited by his company’s Ministry of Truth?

    • bifjamod says:

      The lack of mention of the script is an import point, Mr. FixIt. As a consumer / customer, that is my number one beef when dealing with CSR’s. Don’t treat me like so much contract boilerplate. And when I ask / demand that your stop reading scripted responses, take some initiative, take some ownership, and be a CUSTOMER SERVICE representative, not a corporate mouthpiece.

      • Jbondkicks says:

        Yeah, but it’s rarely customer service right? It’s servicing corporate by doing as little as possible to appease the customer.

        Anyway, I worked for a call center for less than a month, and trust me — we want to go off-book and do everything we can to actually help you. That’s just usually not the job, and we’d get reprimanded.

        How about this tip for callers…call center reps usually have materials at their disposal that show the deals their competitors are offering. If you call and tell me that you got a flyer from DirecTv that offers their superfantastic HD package for 50 bucks per month, I’ll look it up and know if you’re trying to trick me. If it’s legit, I might have the authority to match, if it’s not, I’ll just be irritated with you.

        • jefeloco says:

          In my time at a T-Mo call center we were heavily discouraged from using scripts; the most we could do was establish our own rhythm and flow. One guy in my group (who used to work for a local Verizon call center) got reprimanded in a group meeting for using boilerplate scripts with every customer. He might as well have been an auto-responding robot.

          Sure, there are some things you can only say a few different ways but I always tried to have an actual conversation with people.

          A note on “Jim” and his points, who the hell “needs” to put someone on hold to update notes? Read the paper or watch the national news in the morning, pick a nationally relevant topic and discuss it mindlessly with the customer. They will know that you’re filling a few moments with useless banter while you’re “working” yet there won’t be dead air or hold music to pump up their blood pressure. I averaged 0 seconds ACW (after call work, the mode that keeps new calls from coming in after a call, used to finish working on customer notes/changes) and 2 second hold times on a daily basis and customers responded well.

      • BlownCircuit says:

        Where I work, we don’t have scripts, though when I am telling someone something they don’t want to hear, they will often reply that I should stop reading the script. Sorry, but there are a very limited number of ways to tell you the truth. I sound like I’ve said it hundreds times because I have. It sounds ‘scripted’ because I happen to be fairly good at my job and a relatively intelligent person, in exchange I provide you the benefit of the doubt and assume you too are fairly intelligent. This results in a direct explanation that is as simple as I can make it.

        You and your problem are not beautiful, unique snowflakes. You are part of the 85% of people I talk to on a daily basis who have caused their own problem and are looking to blame someone else for your mistake or avoid the consequences. I don’t begrudge you for that, weaseling out of things is what separates us from the animals (except for the weasel). Chances are if you are polite and honest with me and ASK for something, I will do it. If you take the New Yorker Approach, chances are you just wasted 4 minutes of your time, plus however long our hold time was. Exceptions apply to both.

    • debones says:

      The last 4 call centers I have worked, we do not go off scripts.

      When I worked at Comcast we had a suggested call flow because it made getting to the point quicker and getting off the call faster. They were only tips though, not requirements.

      I honestly don’t get all the people who encounter these robot reps with scripts. I’ve called Verizon, ATT, TMobile, Microsoft XBox, and a few others. Everyone I have talked to is pretty human.

  3. rewind says:

    Key phrase: “works at a call center for a credit union…”

    They are more customer service oriented than most I imagine.

    Also, I say the words please and thank you more times in a day than my own name. It gets me very far in life. It is obviously not the only determining factor in anything, but hey, it’s easier on me and other people if I am nice about situations than nasty about them.

    • axhandler1 says:

      Yep. Politeness and manners don’t cost you a thing.

    • lolBunny says:

      This is so true. When I worked as a CSR, when people would be nasty and blame me for what happened to their order last time, I would issue the standard company apology, but I would not extend them the courtesying discount (this was to be used at our discretion). If they were rude and said inappropriate things I could hang up on them, I usually stayed on just for the sake of politeness…

      When a polite person would call in and explain if an issue happened or they got the wrong order, I would apologize, offer them a free replacement and/or a discount on their next order if not more.

      Being nice doesn’t cost a thing and people really do appreciate it and will go the extra mile to reciprocate your courtesying .

    • JonStewartMill says:

      The flip side is that nothing soothes an irate customer like the words “I’m sorry,” yet those are the two words you are least likely to hear from a CSR. Are they afraid that if they apologize, the customer will take it as an admission that the CSR was personally to blame for the issue? I don’t get it.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Most CSRs are prohibited, for liability reasons, from saying anything that implies they or the company (legally the same thing, after all) are at fault. The only people permitted to admit fault are the Legal department and the CEO.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          At my call center, if we spoke negatively about our company in any way, we would not only fail a call instantly if it was reviewed, we could also be fired.

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    My computer is broken….
    okay… did you turn it on?

    Something about people telling me the computer is broken irks me than telling what problem they are having… but that’s just me.

    And most of the time the customer just forgot to do something or isn’t doing it right…

    • Suburban Idiot says:

      Interestingly, nearly every time I called Sprint or Bank of America (neither of which I have any relationship with now), the CSR would tell me they were having computer troubles that day.

      Those companies must have really crappy computers (especially Sprint since I usually had to call them three or four times a month to get them to fix their own errors).

      • Hi_Hello says:

        I have a friend who use to work at a telemarket place during college. Those computer are crap. If you turn them off, they might not turn back on.

      • kwheel596 says:

        Generally the computer’s aren’t crappy to be honest. The things we do on them require us to haver numerous CPU hogging programs open. Not to mention the webpages we have open for our own pleasure and downtime.

      • kung fu lola says:

        My roommate works as a CSR for a bank which pulls in billions of profits every year, and their computers have minor crashes at least once every day, and major ones at least once a week. It is pathetic how little the people in charge of supplying the peons with equipment care about those peons.

    • kujospam says:

      I’m right with you on that. My VPN connection isn’t working. Well, do you have the internet? No? That might be why.

  5. FatLynn says:

    I find, as a customer, that simply admitting fault works better than an elaborate story on why something isn’t your fault.

    • Doubts42 says:

      Amen

      Give me a BS story about how it has always worked, you did nothing different and it suddenly doesn’t work and I know you are full of crap. That’s not how computers work.
      Admit you let your kid use the company laptop, he installed a stupid flash game and now your settings are all screwed. I can deal with that and I can fix it. i will do so without reporting your misuse of company equipment 99% of the time. Lie to me and make me find the flash game and i will have you written up before you can blink.

      • tmac40 says:

        That’s how computers are supposed to work. In reality it is very likely for them to just stop working the way you expected. Is there anything worse than an arrogant IT guy? I love when they come and act like you’re stupid and say “you just have to do this!…. wait… why is it doing that… that’s not supposed to happen.” IT workers are what happens when you have to put smart people in what are essentially very low level positions.

      • crazedhare says:

        Oh gosh no, not a WRITE UP! What a powerful and impressive person, you write up wielding vigilante, you. Protecting us all from flash games with your mighty write up authority….

        • slappysquirrel says:

          If the flash game hadn’t broken the computer, the computer wouldn’t need the IT guy to fix it.

      • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

        You’re so right. It must be the flash game that the user’s son/daughter installed on their company laptop.

        It couldn’t POSSIBLY have been caused by the recent SMS push, the recent Microsoft update, or even by the user’s own error by accidently clicking “OK” when a website says “Click OK if you do not want to install our malware”

        It couldn’t possilby be that they were hit by a popup that looked exactly like a Windows “My Computer” screen with a “Virus detected, click to clean” message

        It had to be something that they did, and are hiding from you.

        No possible way it could be the Microsoft update. That just never happens.

        Oh and there is no possibility on this planet that their hard drive developed a bad sector.

        • regis-s says:

          I would imagine the flash game example has actually happened in his experience.

          Does anything you’ve mentioned result in a flash game being accidentally installed and played on a computer?

        • slappysquirrel says:

          Erm, if it is the bad sector or Microsoft update and not the kid downloading the flash game, where did the flash game he found come from?

        • Clumber says:

          I have been in IT support now for some stupid number of years greater than 10 but fewer than 20 and I PROMISE you we get flat-out lied to daily. I really don’t care that you were “working outside your duties” or whatever when you screwed the system up. I don’t care that you were using a verboten space heater under your desk when you MELTED the face of the PC. (really?! Yes, really.) What I cannot stomach, even after it happening over and over and over, is being lied to. I don’t care if you can’t tell your “RAM drive” from your “MicroMouse” – just don’t lie to me and me will love you long time. I will jump chasms for my customers if they are just honest with me and remain lower than a 5 on the dickwad scale. If you don’t know, you can say “I don’t know.” You can. I promise! Try it!

          I honestly LOVE my job. I love helping fix computers, I love teaching people how to enjoy using their computers more. I loathe being lied to. I loathe it more than even being cursed at.

      • owtytrof says:

        Installed a Flash game? Flash games don’t install, they run dynamically from within the browser. Do you mean like they set up a desktop shortcut to a Flash game? How would that mess up any other settings on the computer?

        If you’re talking about, say, a casual game, for example Bejeweled 3 by PopCap Games, that is actually installed and ran from the local machine, that’s not Flash. It also probably didn’t mess up any other settings on the machine.

        Protip: if you want to rant about something, make sure what you’re saying makes some sort of sense.

    • obits3 says:

      CSR: What seems to be the issue?
      Cust: My friend said that I am having a PICNIC error…

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      It was a very long time ago but the one thing that really stuck with me from basic training was admitting “I have no excuse”. It makes life so much easier for everyone to just admit fault and then figure out some way of resolving it.

    • jefeloco says:

      I had a lady call in one time telling me this elaborate story filled with hems and haws, detailing how her phone just won’t work anymore, not even enough to troubleshoot. It so didn’t work, in fact, that she didn’t even have access to it to tell me the serial number from the inside of the battery cover! It wasn’t stolen or lost, mind you; the customer could see the phone right in front of her. She wanted a free replacement since it was only a couple of years old and should still work like new, this was unacceptable on our part to sell a phone that did this.

      She ultimately told me that she was talking on the phone while dropping a deuce and dropped the phone as well while wiping.

  6. Demoman2k10 says:

    Honestly sounds like Chris is one of those, I bypass and has the attitude I’d LOVE to see fired. You have NO PLACE in CSR work dude.

    After 20 years work as a CSR supervisor… I’d fire you in a HEARTBEAT for any one of your comments I’ve seen here.

    Customers mean MONEY, and for ever lost customer thay can take 10 with them. For ever happy customer they will help us gain 2.

    ALWAYS when you encounter a CSR like chris. ASK for the manager if you don’t get it get his ID number hang up and call back and ask for a supervisor, report the incident.

    • emax4 says:

      If money is all that matters to you, then you shouldn’t even be a CSR manager since you’ve just stated that you don’t care about your employees. Don’t forget that the CSRs are the ones manning the front lines. If you instruct them to go right to a manager, then you’ll be dealing with the crap that customers dump on them. You might as well make all CSRs managers then. Something you’ll have to think about: You can have happy employees and unhappy customers, but when you have unhappy employees you’re gonna have a lot more unhappy customers. So when you have customers bitching about the CSRs, think to yourself, “what am I doing for them to ease their troubles on the phone and make their job easier and less-stressful?”

      If you’re so smart at this, I want to see your solutions to dumb customer threats, and not one that sounds pre-recorded.

    • ovalseven says:

      I don’t believe Jim actually says those things to his customers. For all we know, he could be very polite and helpful.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        Yes, I got more the impression that this was just JIM’s (not Chris’s) own public venting of private thoughts, & frustrations and had little or no resemblance on how he actually treats customers when doing his job.

    • Krobar says:

      Chris is an editor for the Consumerist. Not the CSR who wrote in with the tips….?

    • appleseed says:

      I wish I was dealing with you last night at the bookstore I used to go to.no many people have that attitude anymore and its sad

    • slappysquirrel says:

      if you’re this careful to make sure you’re blaming the right guy in real life, I’m glad I don’t work for you.

    • BrownEyes says:

      I You are an idiot. One can only hope you get knocked down from your high horse and get treated like you treat your employees. Obviously, the OP is only fantasizing of what he’d like to say and not what he really says or he wouldn’t have a job.

    • meltingcube says:

      You seriously need to take a step down and re-evaluate your way of thinking. A manager is supposed to motivate and encourage their employees to do what is right, and enjoy their job on a daily basis. If you always look down on your employees the way you act in your comment, then you must have a very high turn over rate. Employees are the #1 asset to a company; If you have unhappy employees due to their managers being a**holes, then you will have unhappy customers. It’s as simple as that.

  7. Rose says:

    I call BS. The supervisor NEVER tells me the same thing. Ever.

    • Robofish says:

      I work in a callcenter. It’s not BS. Though maybe if you are calling a different division of something but at least in tech support here when someone tells you something, the supervisor 99% of the time says the same thing

      • Scuba Steve says:

        Well, here’s the thing: Supervisors know the rules better than anyone else, and a CSR will only be following what he’s told. It’s not like the CSR is going to be misinformed about the policies for customer service, generally speaking.

        So when you get to a supervisor, he’s either going to reiterate policy, which is what the CSRs expect, or he’s going to cave, and use his executive powers to make something happen that the regular CSR can’t.

        There was a Gamestop story a while back from a clerk selling a new game to someone, then that person wanting a refund. Gamestop’s policy is that they don’t do refunds on new games. However, if you whine to the right person, such as a Manager, or a District Manager, you’ve suddenly found someone with the power to give you that refund, and suddenly policies are being set aside.

        • dulcinea47 says:

          Your second paragraph is exactly what happened in my experience.

          Also, sometimes the person is just getting pissed off, and simply talking to someone else who they’re not directing their anger at can calm them down, even if they’re telling them the exact same thing.

    • DJSeanMac says:

      I concur. I paid off one of my two BoA credit cards and they cancelled it. My other card’s interest rate went up, presumably because I was now at an even greater disadvantage with my credit use/availability ratio.

      The first CSR I spoke with kept telling me there is nothing anyone can do, that speaking to a supervisor would only be a repeat of what he was saying. It wasn’t. Using the magic question “what would you do if you were in my position?” again with the supervisor I was able to get a very significant rate reduction.

      I do believe it’s MUCH easier to get what you want when you’re polite and understanding of the CSR’s limitations. I also believe they probably get negatives placed on their file when they are forced to elevate the call, but that’s a corporate issue that I literally can’t be bothered with.

    • UberGeek says:

      I have had CSR supervisors tell me the same thing as the CSR and I’ve had them not tell me the same thing. If the CSR tells me the supervisor will tell me the same thing, the supervisor ALWAYS tells me something different. I have a feeling if the CSR has to tell me that, it’s because they know they’re wrong and are hoping to convince me otherwise.

    • Rose says:

      Same here. Usually, when I have to be escalated, the CSR says something like, ‘There isn’t anything I can do for you.’ or some equally meaningless phrase, and I politely ask for a supervisor, who can usually help.

      Sometimes, I get the asshole CSR who says that the sup will repeat them, but the sup never does. Again, my issues is almost always resolved.

      Rarely, I get a sup who can’t resolve my issue, but who usually sheds more light on the issue. In none of those instances has the sup simply repeated what the CSR already said.

      Maybe I’m just lucky?

    • erikislame says:

      What kind of jackass responds to themselves?

  8. KingPsyz says:

    The “I know the CEO/President/Owner” thing is so true, if you really knew him you would have told him what you wanted and it would have been done. How do I know this? Because I NEVER TALK TO THOSE CUSTOMERS. They come in and have the GM waiting on them personally with no other interaction.

    The best part is when people say they know our owner by the name of the dealership and they’re good friends… Not that good of friends since you missed the part where HE DIED A WHILE BACK…

    I also agree with the chit chat, honestly, I do try and be as personable as possible with everyone I talk to. But I don’t need your life story, I don’t even need the backstory to your credit, or your grandson’s roommate’s sister’s boyfriend who ruined your last car. I will tune you out after 3-4 minutes of useless droning and you’re costing me money.

    Please do talk to me about what you called for, if you give me a breakdown of what you do with your cars or what you want to do, that I can help with. I cannot tell your son to get a job, or your girlfriend to start paying her bills on time.

    And please, please, please… DO NOT GIVE OUT CREDIT INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE unless you’re speaking with your credit card company or your financial institution. I don’t want it, I am not writing it down, and I am not running your credit “over the phone”. But someone might…

  9. obits3 says:

    “We have a 3 to 4 minute talk time that we can spend with you”

    I’ll try to remember that next time I waste my lunch break waiting for a CSR…

    • Lolotehe says:

      Breaks are canceled. There’s calls in the queue!

    • Burzmali says:

      You’re waiting for a CSR because other CSRs aren’t keeping their talk time within the necessary Windows. It’s also likely that the call volume is just higher than expected, but the average CSR talk time is the biggest factor.

      • dreamking says:

        No, it happened because the department didn’t do appropriate resource analysis in their staffing model. Assuming they even have a staffing model.

        Call centers are cost centers. Their mere existence is considered to be a gift by most CXOs, despite whatever they’re saying in public about being customer-centered or relationship-driven, or whatever. In lean times, call centers are cut. Service is squeezed out by either making the working environment more miserable, making up rules meant to stimey opportunities for extended time, or not caring so much about complaints. When times cease to be lean, staffing is not reclaimed unless call volumes spike up in 20% increments. And even then, chances are they’ll explore a technological, self-service fix on the backs of an overworked, demoralized staff.

        So. Blaming either the techs/agents or the customers for daring to call and wanting two seconds more in a human conversation doesn’t hold much water for me. You can roll your eyes at people who don’t have account numbers ready, but fuck the asswipe who decided to overweigh the CSR or HD tech’s performance eval on average call length. It’s a similar kind of bullshit that pits restaurant servers against customers when it comes to tips.

      • FoxCMK says:

        When is call volume ever NOT higher than expected?

      • Mom says:

        Why should I care what your call volume is, or if other CSR’s are not meeting their time requirements? I wouldn’t be calling if there weren’t already a problem. Don’t make it worse by making me sit through my lunch hour waiting to get 3 minutes with you.

  10. Norvy says:

    The manager is a great option, but only once you’ve exhausted the lower level option.

  11. edison234 says:

    How about a straight-forward question to the caller from the CSR…

    “To increase your call satisfaction, would you like to include chit-chat as part of this call?”

    This option just might allow your overlords at CSR Central to understand if the in-bound callers would prefer a more personal touch. The customer base for a company might be more business-only oriented in their call, others might like to keep it light… ‘Is that a dog I hear in the background? Is it white, fluffy and small? Girl or boy dog? What’s that bitches name?” Then the metrics can be adjusted for the company type…

    • FatLynn says:

      Oh, I HATE this. The Comcast people have taken to asking me how my day is and stuff, and it is so annoying.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Can we just make a societal decision here that the only correct answer is “no”? I will never meet this voice on the phone in my entire life. He doesn’t need to know about my family or my day. He needs to fix the DHCP settings on my cable modem, again.

      Any interaction I have with customer service representatives only occurs because the company’s website didn’t provide an alternative. All parties involved want it to end as soon as possible.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        That’s great, really. Unfortunately, you (and I’m with you) are in the tiny minority.

        Most callers want to pussy-foot around the issue, lie constantly about the problem (“I turn on my computer, and I just get a blank screen.” “Is the monitor plugged in?” “Yes, I see the logo when I turn on the computer, so I know the monitor works.” “…”), and ramble on for twenty minutes about how their son/cousin/nephew/sister usually works on the system and they told them that was bad, but that might not be it because six weeks ago they got a new computer and now they’re having problems with the new computer but that’s not really important because they need the files on this computer and really they just need the pictures of Cousin Ed’s 14th birthday party that they took with that camera they got last christmas and oh by the way it would be nice if you could help me with that because there are these settings that we can’t figure out and…

  12. kateydidnt says:

    I currently work in a customer service department for a web hosting company. At any time, if I feel the need or that your situation warrants it, I can make a credit to your ledger for up to one month’s hosting, or move the billing date back a few days. Sometimes things get tough, sometimes something happens. Sometimes it might just take an extra few days for you to make a payment this month. Sometimes our system has problems and it is an inconvenience to you. I know and understand all of that. If you’re coming to us asking, not complaining and swearing and insulting me, I’m more inclined to be sympathetic and give you something like that. DON’T come to me with a sense of entitlement.

    And ditto on the “They’ll tell you the same thing” company policy is company policy. Neither me nor my supervisor can change that.

    And DON’T ask for the CEO. You’re not going to get him. He pays us to take the calls.

    When I say I can’t take your credit card information over the phone, its for your security. Don’t just rattle it off to me after I tell you not to. When I ask you to confirm the name and address on the account that’s for your security too.

    I AM allowed to hang up on you if you start swearing. I will ask you to keep the call professional two times before letting you know I am disconnecting the call.

    Please treat our international customer service reps with the same respect you treat our American reps. They are well trained and can handle your issues. If you have trouble with their accent please just ask them to repeat themselves.

    When I say I’m putting you on hold, I actually just mute my phone–meaning I can hear everything you are saying.

    • davidsco says:

      Yea, “well trained” hahahahahahahahhaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaha

      • ellemdee says:

        I read a board post recently about someone calling in to see if their Visa card was considered a Visa Signature card. The overseas rep insisted that, if he signed the card, it was a Signature card because it had his signature on it. I think he gave up after a half hour or so of trying to convince the rep that there was a difference between a Visa Signature card and a Visa card with a signature on it. Well trained, yeah…

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      I almost agree with what you wrote. Almost.

      The CSR accents are a terrible pitfall to the company. Sure, they could be well trained and perfectly capable when it comes to troubleshooting. But, how is that going to help me if I can’t understand them? Asking them to repeat themselves isn’t always going to work, and can turn a 5 minute problem into 30 minutes of hell with a pissed off customer wondering why he/she couldn’t speak to someone else. And, because of the accent, many people hang up out of frustration.

      The accent is a worse problem then you believe.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      My main issue with people of any background speaking heavily-accented English is that if we’re both ESL we’re going to be having a hell of a time understanding each other!

    • hawguy says:

      If only ‘well trained’ were true — it’s clear that they are following a script and have no idea how to solve the problem. Worse, if I have to hang up and call back, I have to go through the exact same script again.

      If the problem can be solved with a script, then add it to your support website where I could go through it much faster online than on the phone.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      Sure, the “international customer service reps” deserve the same respect one would extend to anyone in a public interaction. That said whenever I call customer service or tech support and hear an Indian accent on the line, my initial reaction will always be, “Oh crap!”

      Overseas tech support is especially infuriating. In my experience, even people who nominally speak English tend not to be fluent in all of the terms concerning things like, for example, computer hardware. This is true even if they are answering the phone for a company like, for example, HP. Also, they just don’t get the idioms of American English that would be understood by a native speaker. They get confused by language they don’t fully understand and the result is that they become robotic script readers. If the answer to your problem isn’t in the script you are then screwed because there is nothing you can do to make the CSR understand you.

    • Rose says:

      When I say I’m putting you on hold, I actually just mute my phone–meaning I can hear everything you are saying.

      Yes, and I love that, because it means that you can hear me when I speak to my spouse and/or friends about your conduct so far. Been nice? You get to hear good things. Been shitty? You get to hear shitty things. Karma never sounded to karmic. :)

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      Looks like KateyDidn’t has swallowed the -whole- Thermos of
      CSR Kool-Aid. Is there anything more I can do for you today?
      Yes, get out of the CSR biz. And remember to Press1ForDialTone.

  13. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Jesus Christ, am I tired of listening to butthurt service “professionals” and their reasons for hating their clients and slacking off on their jobs.

    Back to helping my user base now… you know, the people I like and who like me because they know I always have time for them and take care of them. You’re welcome.

    • AwesomeJerkface says:

      You say that as if there isn’t even a small percentage of people who are unreasonable, angry, and generally terrible regardless of your capabilities.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        The difference between someone like me and the shortsighted juvenile jackasses who hate their users is that I consider difficult people a challenge to my abilities, and I pride myself on my consistent ability to turn a difficult user into a devoted fan. I did this with an entire department that nobody else wanted to work with. It took about a year, but I did it, and it’s going to pay off now; I was in a meeting last week that found that largely due to my efforts, the department is now ready to properly integrate their overseas operations into the software I support.

        See, it’s never me against the caller. It’s always, always the caller and me against a problem that needs solving. Sometimes I have to say no, sometimes I have to disengage and call back later when we’re not feeling so adversarial, sometimes I get their boss involved (to help, not to tattle), sometimes I have to get mine involved (I know I don’t know every goddamn thing in the universe).

        Basically the jackass CSR is like a dog owner who screams and slugs his dog for every little thing. I’m like a dog owner who studies how dogs think and who understands that their primary job is to be a dog, not a human being. I understand that the engineers I support didn’t go to school to learn how to run my software. They are engineers first and foremost, and my primary job is to make sure my software is a tool they can use to do their jobs, not a leash to make sure they follow a set of arbitraty Corporate rules. It is absolutely the case that I have to make them adhere to legislative and auditing standards, but that’s my concern, not theirs. When it comes time to tell them they can’t do something because of regulation, I actually tell them so. Why lie? I love the engineers; I don’t hate them.

        No, i don’t even hate the difficult ones. I hate how they use the system, but that’s fixable. In one out of a thousand (literally) cases, it involves taking the user out of the database and finding him something he can do more profitably. In every other case, I turn it around.

        • bfrosty says:

          Thats cool. I’m glad you are good at what you do… but this isn’t about you.
          I imagine that if you envision your job with some key changes, you’ll understand better…

          1. You don’t have any power. Period. You can’t get their boss on the phone. If you have to get your boss on the phone then its considered a failure. Even though they called you, they don’t believe you can fix the problem. They don’t want to do anything to help you fix the problem. They count every second that the problem has been happening against you, regardless of when they notified you of the problem.

          2. The company that you work for tells you that they love the customer. They tell the customer that they love the customer. They tell share holders that they love the customer. But they are having an affair with the Accounts Receivable. They just want the money. Period. If they can make you happy for free, sure why not. If it will in any way, shape or form affect the bottom line, forget about it. Even if you swear that you’ll bring 10x more business, they’d rather save a dollar than earn 10.

          3. You are replaceable. You are simply a cog in a machine… There are more, cheaper ones available at any point in time should you forget that. And innovation is a punishable offense.

          I think with those slight variations, you may be able to relate better. I’ve done the call center square dance and trust, as a previous employee of 3/4 of the major wireless providers, it only takes about 8-10 months before the bile builds up in the back of your throat and you either spit or swallow…

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            Hmm, did you mean this as a reply to me? I do not face the problems you describe. I know I’m lucky in that respect, and I feel bad for people who do face these problems. But I think your comment is in the wrong spot.

            • slappysquirrel says:

              I think it was meant as a reply to you. Your job gives you a great deal more latitude than Jim’s job does, so of course you are more able to be successful. I used to be a CSR and my job was a lot more like Jim’s than yours and I relate to what Jim is saying. My personal issue was customers constantly lying to me, but I do identify with some of Jim’s problems too.

              Good for you for having a better job than Jim, but your standards of success might not be the most reasonable ones to judge Jim by.

              • You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

                I used to work in a call center a bit more akin to what Jim is describing, too. Then I realized that the expectations of management to work with the limited resources they provide and somehow provide miraculous results with customers were completely ridiculous and I found a new call center (there are plenty of them from which to choose). Now I spend all day actually helping people with real problems instead of trying to work with a broken system to provide some frivolous tech support….Also I’m not pressured to keep my phone calls within a 3-4 minute time frame, so that’s good too.

                If it’s the work environment and not the customers that’s causing the problem, you can’t really complain if the customers happen to get in your way as you’re tripping over your environment’s obstacles, can you?

            • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

              Never mind, I see what you’re saying. I’m not perfectly sure what you expect me to “relate” to, though. A sour, mean-spirited jerk who treats his customers badly because he thinks he’s being treated badly? Well, shit, if we are entitled to treat others badly because we think we are being treated badly, then our lives are going to be, as it’s been said of my ex-boyfriend, “nasty, brutish, and short.”

            • FrugalFreak says:

              Some CSRs have brains and patience, most don’t.

      • You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

        You say that as if it’s impossible to be professional and understand that when you work in that industry you’re bound to run into such people and should probably develop some level of tolerance for their ridiculous expectations.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      I’m with you. Service industry mut be full of BHs and DBs who hate thier life..

  14. Robofish says:

    I Currently work in one, and my favorite are the people who call in, then get mad at us right away. YOU CALLED ME FOR HELP. Do not be mad at me when I am trying to help you. I understand you are frustrated, but at least work with me and do not say no we already tried that each time I give you a suggestion. Half the time those things you said you did, were not done, and we will find out.

    • e065702 says:

      Robofish, I think you are missing the point. The “Help” you are refering to is often not the fault of the caller, rather an inefficiency in the company’s operation. In those cases you are not actually helping them at all. What you are doing is what the corporation OWES the customer, what they promised to deliver and then failed to do.
      Perhaps your worldview would better served if you thought of yourself as working in a place that “helps” in customer retention, rather than a free add-on being offered the annoying customers that help employ you.

  15. CustomerServiceAgent says:

    6. I’ll start a smear campaign on the internet if you don’t give me what I want (Usually discounts).

    • DorianDanger says:

      this. all the damn time. The new fun one is “I’m going to start a facebook group that tells everyone what you did!” so…you’re going to start a facebook group telling everyone that you berated me to try to get a discount for absolutely no reason and I didn’t give it to you?…awww. that’s cute.

  16. BenChatt says:

    I don’t know–I think the problems I had when I worked phones (IT support for a university) were far more boss related than customer related. If you’re a nice person and are patient and forgiving, usually the CSR will be too. When those bosses put on the pressure, though, even the most saccharine phone jockey will turn sour. Jim appears to be one of those.

  17. njack says:

    The guy seems to have an attitude especially with comments like ‘Go ahead, it really does not bother us. Honestly. You never do or if you do you will come back. Unless of course you are carrying a very hefty deposit.’ However, he is probably accurate considering he works at a credit union. It more or less proves to me that CSRs aren’t really in the business of CS regardless of where they work.

    Also, the manager has never given me the same answer as the CSR, it’s always worth the attempt to escalate if you think it is worthy.

    • emax4 says:

      Do it long enough and you’ll run into people that say one thing and do another. Most of the time it’s just a bluff. They get away with one thing and then constantly try it every time to get away with more. Business, like people, have their limits. When you have a dead stem from a plant, you prune the plant, and not let the dead stem kill the whole plant.

  18. Burzmali says:

    When I worked tech support, my biggest pet peeve was the customer that wouldn’t do what I asked or would tell me it wasn’t going to work. Really? Please, fix it yourself and save me the headache, then. Sure, this solution might not solve it, but it will narrow things down if it is unsuccessful, and then the next solution is more likely to resolve it. This is a process. Help me help you through this process.

    • tmac40 says:

      Well I hate it when I call in with an issue, tell the CSR I have already restarted the device and they proceed to tell me they have to walk through all the basic steps first. Stop wasting my time.

      • Burzmali says:

        Believe me, CSRs understand that frustration, but they get reprimanded if they skip steps in troubleshooting (if the call is being monitored). On top of that, deceptive customers who think they know what the problem is will say they’ve gone through those steps when they really haven’t. The customer/CSR relationship is not one that involves any level of trust.

        • davidsco says:

          Then don’t expect people to follow you. It’s not OUR fault you’re too stupid to work without a script. and it’s not OUR fault you know little about your product. We’d rather speak to someone who KNOWS about what we are asking, but instead, get you, so expect us to not want to waste OUR time on your company’s stupidity

          • SonicPhoenix says:

            Sorry but you’re in the minority if you answer the techs’ questions truthfully. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve asked someone to reboot their computer and they say, “Oh I already did that.” Only to remote in to their system, check the system idle time and find out that the system has been running for a few thousand hours. To translate, that means they haven’t rebooted in months even though they claim to have rebooted five minutes ago. Then I’ll say, “Hmm. Let me go ahead and reboot that for you one more time just in case… oh look it’s working now.”

            So sorry if you have to go through the basic steps again. If you can somehow get the other 9/10 people to stop lying to me about the results of various troubleshooting steps then I’ll stop asking you to repeat them. But until then, you’re going to have to do as I say even if you already did it for someone else since I don’t work off a script and actually use logic and experience to fix issues.

            • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

              If they knew how to answer your questions accurately, they would probably not be having the issue in the first place, you know. Most issues arise from fundamental misunderstandings of the way things work. You have to think for the user and understand what they really mean by questions. “So-and-so tried it and it worked”, for example, does not mean that so-and-so has the same system permissions, that they tried it the same way, on the same computer, logged in as the complaining user, logged in as themselves, logged in on the Administrator account, or in the same program. It does not even mean it necessarily worked, just that it didn’t crash the computer or give the same error. it’s not a matter of truth but of perception.

          • Burzmali says:

            Whoa, fella. Try re-reading my comment. The CSR has to follow the script or they get reprimanded. It’s the only effective way for the call center to track resolution and keep the CSRs from recommending fixes that are potentially dangerous to the user or the user’s equipment.

            When I did AOL tech support, I could have fixed probably half of the issues I got by walking the user through some simple Windows command line functions. I would have been fired if anyone caught me doing it, though. That type of fix wasn’t even an option because there are too many potential pitfalls. Instead, a lot of times I had to just walk them through uninstalling and reinstalling the software. Button clicks are a lot easier to convey and follow over the phone than command line scripts.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      “wouldn’t do what I asked” . . .
      What if I already tried that and it didn’t work (and told you exactly what happened before when I did in fact try it?

      • Burzmali says:

        It doesn’t matter, because I’ll get reprimanded if I don’t have you do it for me on the phone. Also, saying you did it and actually having done it are two different things. I can’t count the number of times I had a customer lie to me about whether they’d done something.

        • Gail says:

          Yup, customers lie. Often they don’t mean to, but they do.

          I don’t get in trouble at this point, but I can’t get developers to pay attention if I don’t show them exactly what they want to see, all tied up in a bow and accompanied by fine chocolates. So, yes, I NEED that stupid screenshot that shows exactly what I’ve been telling them for 3 weeks.

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            The developers don’t hate you, Gail. They just need to make sure they have the proper syntax of the error, or that they properly understand what you’re describing, or that you aren’t missing something significant. I never mind giving someone all the information they need to perform an efficient fix the first time.

            • Gail says:

              Oh, I totally understand. I don’t mind getting everything they ask for either – however, it can be a pain to get the customers to cough it up. I try to make sure I have everything they could possibly ask for before I write. But I know that they are grasping at straws when they are asking for really random stuff. :)

              I do have to admit that I’ve used the “big mean developer” trick on customers before, because I was pretty sure that they were confused, and I really needed them to send me that screenshot of an error, or window. “Oh, I’m sorry, I know we’ve already done this, but the developers are going to want that screenshot…”

              • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

                Ha, ha, yeah, I have to admit to that one. Except that in my case it’s true about sixty percent of the time; I really do need the actual error text or screenshot to hand off to another team member. I know that it’s never a case of calling the customer a liar. It’s just a case of “here, let me have a look at that”. People who would never dream of asking their doctor to diagnose an infection over the phone based on their description of where it hurts expect similar tasks from help desk people.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Exactly. When you see a new doctor, or even the same doctor after a long time or with a new issue, they have to run the same tests and ask you the same questions you already performed and answered before. it’s not bureaucracy. It’s the responsible, scientific way to diagnose any issue and make sure serious problems aren’t overlooked.

      • Gail says:

        It is highly, highly, highly possible that either you didn’t do what you thought you did, or you did it wrong. Or, maybe I just need you to read me off what the screen says when you do it, because “it didn’t work” doesn’t tell me much.

        I’ve gotten really good at getting customers to do what I want, sneaky style. And you’d be surprised how often everything suddenly works when I’m on the phone with customers – even though they swear up and down that they just DID that.

        Most of my users are awesome, and I’ve been doing tech support for over 10 years at this point. I love my job. My biggest pet peeve is when a customer asks why something happened when it really doesn’t matter. For example, say I have a customer reinstall or rerun something, and the problem is fixed. I don’t know why exactly the problem happened, but its all fine and dandy now. Then, the dreaded “But why was it broken yesterday?” Well, honestly, I don’t know. Maybe there were sunspots. Maybe you did it wrong. Maybe gremlins corrupted something. All I know is that currently, the problem is fixed, and here is my direct line if it ever happens again.

        Only I put it much more sweetly than that. I usually just say that I’m magic, we all laugh, and I’m on to the next problems. ;)

      • BarbiCat says:

        Because the chances that you did it are almost nil?

        I’m sorry. I know. You’re a computer genius, you work in IT for NASA and you rewired your entire home to work on thought power alone. Of course you are, I talk to 100 people a day who are also IT Geniuses who work for NASA.

        And yet, I can SEE your equipment, you know? And no, you mostly definitely did not power down your modem ‘fifty times today’. So please just humour me and take the power cord out so I can see on my screen that it’s dropped off our network. No, the power cord. From the modem. Sir, that’s your TV. No, I don’t know why you unplugged the power to your TV, I didn’t ask you to do that. No sir, that thing in the kitchen is your toaster, also, not a modem. If you don’t know what the modem is, just SAY SO, instead of unplugging every damn thing in sight and insisting you’re a technical genius…

        • Mom says:

          ummm…I *know* that when I call the cable company they’re going to have me power down my equipment for a full minute, then power it back up again to see if it fixes the problem. I’ve already done that before I called. Really. I don’t want to do it again, it’s a waste of the 3-4 minutes I have with the CSR. Please get on to the next thing.

          • Charles Bronson says:

            Except when you powered it off before the call, nobody was paying attention on the other end. Presumably you’re calling because it wasn’t something you could fix on your end. If you want me to go into great technical detail about the rationale for every step you’re asked to do, I’m happy to do so, just realize it will mean taking ten times as long to fix your problem.

          • BarbiCat says:

            Did you purposely misread my post, or do you just want to be argumentative?

            I can see the time stamp from when the equipment was powered down, and when it was powered back up and registered with our servers. If the customer says ‘My internet isn’t working’ and I can see a reset was just performed, even 20-30 minutes back, I say “Okay, so it looks like you just reset your modem, do you have a router and if so was that also reset?”

            90% of the Internet calls I take are from people who haven’t actually reset *anything*. Then 9% are people with faulty routers, and 1% are people who are actually experiencing an outage. So no, I’m sorry, YOU are not the normal customer in these equations.

    • Stickdude says:

      My favorite was asking the user to click one thing – and you suddenly hear furious typing on the other end… :)

      And then they swear up and down that they weren’t typing anything.

      • erratapage says:

        If you hear typing on my side, it’s because I’m doing 10 things at once. I don’t call customer service very often, and when I do, it’s because the stuff in the user manual, knowledge base, and user boards didn’t work. It drives me crazy when tech support thinks I’m dumb.

      • Rose says:

        Agreed. I’m usually multi-tasking, and if I’m not, then I’m typing a transcript of the call – if I’m not already recording it.

  19. kataisa says:

    “Also, please and thank you go a long way…”

    Agree. You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    So many people nowadays think they are perfectly entitled to verbally abuse a CSR (who has the worst job in the world but like everyone else needs to make a living) that I’ve found it’s best to be polite to them and they’ll become a lot more helpful and cooperative.

    I’ve had many of the usual bank fees removed from my accounts because I called and politely asked them if they would do me the favor of not charging fees to my account. Yes, I’m a long-time customer but I didn’t have to tell them that. ;-)

  20. CustomerServiceAgent says:

    OH OH one more!

    7. “I own a business and I would give just give the customer what they want if you want to keep my business” – I don’t care what you do for a living, and every single business differs in terms of policy.

  21. cigsm says:

    This guy should be fired. This is exactly why customer service at so many companies has the bad reputation it does.

    I don’t know if you know this Jim, but YOU have a JOB because of YOUR EMPLOYERS customers – eg, the people that are calling in. I PROMISE YOU, that if enough people took their business elsewhere, not only would your employer take notice ASAP but you’d soon be out of a job.

    Not only that, but YOUR metrics are not MY problem. I am a customer and expect service. If it takes longer than your metric, not my problem and I don’t really care. You know why? Because I employ YOUR employer to do my banking needs. I just waited on hold for 20 minutes on my lunch hour, so I could really give a toss whether I’m taking up time outside of your metric. Chances are, if your employer didn’t F up in the first place, I wouldn’t be calling in anyway.

    • rndmnmbr says:

      You know, if bad customers would quit their antics, everything would go a lot more smoothly.

      Yes, bad customers. People who won’t get to their question in a timely manner, who buffalo the CSR in the hopes of an undeserved reward, people who bluff and bluster and threaten to have their petty, inane desires fulfilled. Just because you’re paying money for their service does not give you the right to abuse the privilege.

      It’s not the 90% who are calm and courteous who draw the ire of the CSR, it’s the 10% who are petty ungrateful assholes. And ever time I read a comment like yours, sir, I know exactly which hole I’m pegging you in.

      • Kate says:

        Other bad customers are not the good customers problem. Would it be OK if I didn’t get your paycheck out in time because some other employee had a stupid issue?

        • slappysquirrel says:

          If customers who were lying jerks out to get something for free would be kind enough to tell the CSR so at the beginning of the call, then everyone else wouldn’t have to go through the defenses companies put in against lying jerks out to get something for free.

          Similarly, if people looking to sneak guns onto airplanes would announce it at the time of ticket purchase, there would be no need for airport security.

          Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. That said, if your company is late with your paycheck and you want to rant about them anonymously on the internet, nobody’s going to fault you for it.

      • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

        And you sir are the reason alot of people would take their business elsewhere. Not to mention the fact that I would point you out directly in an EECB. Think that goes over well…..think again..

  22. xl3ill says:

    All this guy’s rant does is prove what we already knew:

    - companies see CS as a cost sink. Everything they’re trained to do is to get the customer off the phone, give as little as possible. customer satisfaction is far, far down on the priority list.

    - CSRs and their managers have no power to actually work with the customer

    - If you get bad CS, don’t threaten to move your money elsewhere, just do it.

    - if you get screwed, just hire a lawyer. When he/she threatens to sue, they will care.

  23. Buddha says:

    How about “It was just working yesterday”

    No shit sherlock, everything works before it breaks.

    • Gail says:

      Or, “I haven’t changed anything”.

      You know, except for upgrading to Windows 7 and installing about 29 million programs.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Or. “This shit is broken. It should work the way I want it to instead.” (Actual quote from an actual pain in the ass.)

        • Clumber says:

          Yes, this. I have also been TOLD to get Microsoft (or whoever) to change the way some software does things. Yep – I have that sort of relationship with every software company there is. Let me just get my little book out and dial that development team up.

          Really, this will go much less painfully for both of us if you don’t overthink it. The app does x when key 42 is pressed. No it doesn’t matter why, that is just how it IS. No I can’t explain why. For one, I don’t care why.

  24. Bativac says:

    As a current call center employee I want to chime in and say that probably 60 to 75% of my co-workers are real bastards and go into each phone call looking for a fight. I overhear these arguments and 90% of them (I am just making up these statistics as I go along) are completely uncalled for. The call center reps are a stubborn bunch and enjoy the tiny bit of power they have.

    Management is by-the-book and obsessed with “metrics” to the point where helping the customer and resolving the issue is secondary or tertiary. They will micromanage you to the nth degree because finding faults that they can help you “improve efficiencies” on makes them look better to upper management, which will eventually lead to a promotion to another level of middle management. Ascending the corporate ladder is what drives these people.

    I’m uneasy about revealing the type of call center I work in. Let’s just say it relates to insurance claims. Policyholders are not the primary concern of management (neither middle nor upper). Their concern is numbers – number of calls taken, number of dollars spent supporting this call center. So keep that in mind when calling into one of these places. No amount of yelling or threatening anybody will help. You just have to hope you get one of the reasonable employees on the phone. It’s a crapshoot.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      I cry for you guys. I really do. My metric is “did I solve this user’s problem”. Your metric is “did this machine perform X number of operations per day”. My users know me and like me. Your users are perfect strangers and they hate you. My system is partly the way it is because I helped design it. You don’t have any choice but to follow a script. I personally train most of my users, or write the materials for other members of my team to train them. You have to depend on some outsourced documentation team who has no idea how your product works in practice. I have team members I can call on to help me figure things out. You have nothing but a desk and a phone and a harried supervisor whose job it is to make sure you smile and dial. I have the job of paradise compared to you guys. I try to remember that when I call a call center.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        What I really meant to say was that I admire you for keeping your cool and your humanity under the conditions you work in. Please let me appreciate you for that, even if nobody else does.

      • Bativac says:

        Thanks — but I should mention that we have a little more latitude than some other call centers. We don’t have a script, for example, and since this was a previously professional position, those of us who have been here awhile are being paid pretty well for being, essentially, customer service reps.

        I just think that sometimes the call center reps create more problems than they solve. They are usually poorly paid and have zero stake in the company. They tend to be selfish and mocking of customers and any outsiders who do not understand internal jargon. It’s very frustrating. Especially when fielding calls from customers who have been subjected to one of these reps, and having to clean up their mess while also trying to keep the company from looking like more than a loose collection of wiseass recent college grads.

  25. crazedhare says:

    I love how this person who is admitting he is a liar wants to lecture his company’s customers on courtesy toward him. If you want my respect, be honest. If you can’t do that, you won’t get it. Sounds like someone who has a little bit of an inflated ego about his self-identified ‘power’ over the folks that come in, and who enjoys flexing his douche muscle.

  26. dulcinea47 says:

    “We look at everything on a case by case basis or just our mood.”

    I’m sorry, but if I have a problem and I need help with something, YOUR MOOD should not dictate whether I get my problem solved or not. I have worked in call centers and always did the best I could to help people, maybe I was more cheery & friendly if I was in a good mood but I did not decide to be an unhelpful a-hole ’cause I was having a bad day.

    • Bativac says:

      That statement just proves my point – many customer service reps are total bastards. Their mood should not dictate how the call is handled.

      • AwesomeJerkface says:

        Mood shouldn’t, but it does.

        Can either of you honestly say you’ve never done something differently because you were in a good mood? Never made a mistake because you were stressed out? Never performed better because you heard good news?

        As logical and professional as it is to expect services to be separated from someone’s personal life, it’s not going to ever happen in the course of our existence as the human race.

        People will always be affected by their mood.

        Unless you’d be comfortable going under the knife of a surgeon who just lost their entire family to a plane crash. Personally, I’d like that surgeon to take time to grieve and get someone in a better mood.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Oh, come off it. Working actors don’t get to let their mood affect their acting work. Engineers don’t get to ask their machinery for a break because they’re having a hard day. Farmers don’t get to take a “sick of work day” and not plow the field. Food service workers aren’t entitled to make shitty food because they just don’t feel like doing their jobs properly that day. What makes you think a CSR is entitled to any consideration for their “mood”?

          Ever hear of something called “professionalism”? Maybe you’d better look it up.

    • HannahK says:

      I totally agree, this is the one point I take major issue with. If one banker tells me that there is simply no way to authorize a charge over $2000 to my debit card, when I have done it successfully before, of course I am going to tell him so! Everyone knows that CSRs receive inconsistent training, so you’d have to be crazy to allow a CSR to dismiss you that easily when you know there is more that they could do to help you.

  27. tungstencoil says:

    Couple of thoughts:

    1. While you may be operating within the constraints of your employment, you are also the face of your company to me – the customer. So I will treat “you” like “the company”; part of your job is to hear my opinion or thoughts on what you can or cannot do.

    2. Not sure where this guy works, but escalating and even “rep shopping” (calling back) almost always yields different results. The line “you’ll hear the same thing” is patently false, at least for the companies I’ve dealt with.

    3. When people say things like “I’ll take my business elsewhere, I’ve been with you for XX, I’ll sue” they’re really just venting and expressing frustration. Yes, I worked in a call center a long time ago and, yes, worked my way up in the org until a position that reported directly into a VP, so I know what I’m talking about. If you cannot interpret customers’ signs of distress or frustration and must take them literally, you sir, are poorly trained.

    That being said, he enumerates one of my FAVORITE techniques to get a supervisor: hang up, call back, and say something like, “Do you work with Joe? He is the BEST! I just got off the phone with him! Do you have his supervisor – or any supervisor – whom I can compliment”.

    The sinking sound of disappointment when I explain my ruse is always, always worthwhile.

    • kateydidnt says:

      “That being said, he enumerates one of my FAVORITE techniques to get a supervisor: hang up, call back, and say something like, “Do you work with Joe? He is the BEST! I just got off the phone with him! Do you have his supervisor – or any supervisor – whom I can compliment”.

      Even for compliments my company doesn’t transfer to a supervisor. We can and will give you our supervisor’s email address if you ask.

    • thekevinmonster says:

      regarding #3, I’m on the fence.

      Even if it comes out of user/customer frustration, it’s still a threat. I don’t like threats. No one likes threats. If I threatened a customer – “well, then I’m going to make it so you can’t use our software any more!” – that would be wrong. Telling me, the support representative, that you are going to take your ball and go home and make sure all your friends take their balls and go home too, is threatening me and my employer with some kind of punitive action.

      The vast majority of the time, it comes out of some sense of entitlement, “I want this product to do what I want, and it isn’t doing it, and you won’t make it happen for me, so I’m going to go elsewhere.” There really isn’t much I could ever do about that as a support rep.

      I guess it depends on the particular situation. In my case, it’s almost always the above scenario, either with the user simply telling me that they can’t use the software (which is fine), or telling me they are bailing with the intent to try and make something happen (which is not so fine, because it won’t work.)

      My employer doesn’t have a retention department, though. There’s no one to talk to if you want to see what the company will do to keep you as a customer. The product is simply something you buy once, and maybe buy an upgrade for. Losing a customer means they won’t potentially buy an upgrade in the future, or maybe won’t tell someone it’s a nice product. It’s not quite the same as a service someone pays for over and over.

      Also, it’s very frustrating to be a customer rep. People treat you like crap sometimes and all manner of stupid, ignorant, incorrect, and annoying things come in your ear, and all you get to do is sit there, smile and nod and say I’m sorry.

      I’ve never had anyone say anything about suing us on the phone, though. I’m pretty sure if someone actually threatened that, I have to end the call and get their lawyer to contact us. I suppose that would be a pretty short call..

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      The sinking sound of disappointment when I explain my ruse is always, always worthwhile.

      Fucking sociopath.

  28. Alexk says:

    Jim comes across as a supercillious twerp. If his managers are more jaded than he is, I’d assume his call center has absolutely no interest in helping anyone.

  29. BeerFox says:

    “We laugh all day at your expense, basically you make the mistake and try to blame us for it. Classic!”

    Wow.

  30. jtheletter says:

    “Go ahead, it really does not bother us.”
    “case by case basis or just our mood.”
    “Boy we love to hear this. It almost makes the call worthwhile. We laugh all day at your expense, basically you make the mistake and try to blame us for it. Classic!”
    “We choose to “see” if they are available if you are being too much of an annoyance or pain. You ever notice when you want to congratulate us one is always available and when you are being difficult (yelling or screaming) they are not? “

    Based on those snippets and the general tone of the letter here’s what I get from this.
    “We don’t care about your problem or even getting/retaining your business. We hold all the cards and a solution to your problem depends almost entirely on our personal whims. Resolution processes are inconstantly followed and we can choose to provide poor-to-no service with no repercussions as long as we do so in under 4 minutes.”

    This elicits no sympathy from me, in fact it tells me that your business and YOU do not feel any connection to your customer base and believe you don’t need them so therefore treat all of them as expendable because they aren’t top-level VIPs. You are not special, you are working at a call center as a cog in a machine. You have no power to develop or influence policy, merely a human drone to execute policy. You have multiple tools at your disposal but choose to withhold them for petty personal reasons rather than fulfilling the mandate of your position which is TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. If there were a robot that could do your job then I would happily trade them for you because they would presumably apply their tool set equally and consistently toward a solution.

    Get off your damn high horse, realize you are the lowest rung on the ladder and solve people’s problems to the best of your ability until you can prove yourself enough to move on to a better position. If you can’t do that, or you feel the need to ‘stick it’ to certain callers then get out of customer service and get up to speed on data entry.

  31. Geosama says:

    I work in CSR. If you’re calling in, PLEASE use a lanline! If the calls disconnects, we can’t exactly say “We told you so”. Also, there’s a time for every call. Please don’t call with your kids screaming in the background.

    • katarzyna says:

      I wish. They took away our land lines at work, and gave us shitty, shitty cell phones with shitty, shitty service. I dread having to call the help desk at work.

    • Kate says:

      Not everyone has a convenient time within call center hours (which tend to correspond with working hours) to spend an hour waiting on the phone to talk to you, nor a land line that is out of earshot of the family. CSR calls invariable take at least an hour of waiting for a response, so expect a frazzled person by the time you get on the line to dole out your 5 minutes of wisdom.

      • BarbiCat says:

        Excuse me? I work tech for a 24-7, 365 company. There is literally ALWAYS someone who can help you, and at the moment our speed of answer is about 40 seconds to a minute.

        So please, tell me why I still get calls from people who are at work, in the basement of their apartment complex, or, OUT OF THE COUNTRY. We’re here for customers, why can’t the customer do us the courtesy of actually being near the equipment that’s not working? [Also, “It’s broken” doesn’t mean anything, and no, I’m not going to send a truck to your house if you’re not home and refuse to do even basic troubleshooting.]

        • Rena says:

          Must be nice. Every time I call any CS line, I’m spending at least 30 minutes on hold.

          My favourite is when they then inform me this is the wrong number (there were no others given) and helpfully transfer me to the correct one without telling what it is. Sure hope I don’t need to call back.

    • Alexk says:

      Y’know what’s sad? Your advice to use a landline is true, even when you’re calling your cellular provider.

    • cyandron says:

      Ummm… there’s a huge percentage of the population that no longer has landlines…also, if I’m calling CS, I’m calling at the time I have available (since I know I’ll be on there for atleast 30 minutes). If that time happens to be when my kid is around and he starts screaming, what’s it to you?

  32. mystery79 says:

    The guy sounds burnt out and like he hates his job.

    I am ok with his list but the part where he complains about “you did this last time” annoys me. Sometimes that information is needed to troubleshoot or understand from a consumer point of view what happened.

  33. Bye says:

    Except for the last two points, I don’t put much faith in this CSR’s opinions. I have had a lot of success employing these tactics when dealing with a faceless behemoth. In addition, the “bottom-feeders” always seem to act like my discussions with a supervisor will never go anywhere, but seriously – 9 times out of 10 I get much better resolution by being transferred to somebody who has a little more of a vested interest in keeping me happy as a customer. In fact, I’ve had to use the “I would like to please speak with one of your supervisors” tactic twice in the last month for exceptionally poor customer service. The frontline person was polite enough but completely inept.

    I will not deal with a company that doesn’t have somebody who can cut through the rigidity of their system limitations. Otherwise, I will absolutely engage option #2.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      The CSR isn’t stupid… usually. Even if they are, they can tell when they aren’t solving your problem. It helps to be a human being and say something like, “I can see we’re not getting any closer to a solution, here. I understand you can only do so much to help, and you’re doing the best you can. Would you please transfer me to your supervisor so we can get someone with more authority on the case?”

    • botulismo says:

      You need to learn to distinguish between “inept” and “powerless.” Most regular customer service reps are not given the power to do a lot of things, and if they are, they’re told that if they do it too often, they’ll lose their jobs. As you said, they are not there to “cut through the rigidity of their system limitations.” They are there to keep that system working. Polite enough is all you can ask for in that case, but you sound like someone who might just yell at someone who is doing all they can.

  34. Big Mama Pain says:

    If escalating the situation to a higher up doesn’t resolve anything, why are there so many stories on here to the contrary? That’s just about the only one I don’t agree with. I found it very convenient to stick a difficult customer with my supervisor in order to avoid going over time and just to avoid them in general.

    You get VERY far by being polite and that cannot be overstated enough. Making shit up, acting defensive or acting hostile just doesn’t work-it just doesn’t. They don’t pay CSRs enough money to even act in company’s best interest, let alone yours. Getting a pleasant customer is just about the only perk in a job like this-treat people like you’d want to be treated!

  35. axiomatic says:

    Worked as a CSR for a quite a while in the past with computer servers. Regardless of customer stupidity or not it is still your job as a CSR to take any bullshit on the chin and leave your customer happy and ready to buy your companies “whatever” the next time they need a “whatever.” Anything short of this and you have brought your personal feelings in to a business transaction. Grow up CSR’s it’s your f-ing job. I did and eventually made it in to engineering. Sure it sucks sometimes, but hey, you accepted the job, now accept the BS that comes with it.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Are you perhaps one of the engineers I have to work extra hard with? Are you the one who makes me sick every time I see your help desk ticket because I know you can’t compute your way out of a paper bag, but you insist the system is “set up wrong”? Are you the one who goes over my head to complain that I’m not addressing your issue, when I already told you exactly why you can’t do it the way you want to? Are you one of the creative engineering types (there are a lot of you) who paints themselves into a corner by guessing how things work, then screams for Mommy and blames it on the program? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. I can work with you. I put a smile on my face and in my voice when I do it, too. But I’ll be raped by a leprous mule before I let you take up my supervisor’s valuable time. He’s busy, and he isn’t as patient and friendly as I am.

  36. Clyde Barrow says:

    1. “It’s for your protection”. Arrrggggggg! Nothing gets my blood boiling than to hear this one. Protection from what?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Protection from knowing how much bullshit is being shoved down your pie hole. If they were really interested in protecting you from something, they’d tell you what. I might say, “We don’t allow users to do this procedure because experience has shown us that too many users do it improperly or for the wrong reasons, and it is hard to fix.” I might tell you, “I can’t delete that for you because things that are deleted are overwritten by the next night’s backup and I can’t get it back if you find out you need it later” (in practice we never delete anything, by the way; we mark it obsolete or duplicated). But I’ll never patronize you and say, “It’s to protect you.”

      • BarbiCat says:

        And yet, you still manage to be almost 100% and totally wrong…

        Legally, I can’t give out account holder information unless I confirm I’m speaking with the account holder. And yes, people DO try call in and get information about other account holders from us by pretending to be their mothers, fathers, brothers, etc. And because most of this stuff is linked in some way, even confirming small parts of information can compromise someone’s account. There’s a guy who calls in on a weekly basis and pretends to be his brother, wanting to set up $300 worth of extra services on the account. Or the abusive/vengeful exes who will try call in and get information or passwords changed for email accounts, payment histories, remove purchase locks from equipment so they can order $1000 worth of PPV porn…

        Sorry to burst your bubble, but most of the irritating stuff like confirming security codes/identities actually IS for the protection of the customer as well as liability and protection of the company.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Perfect response, thanks! I know that, since I am responsible for a lot of the database security where I work. I’m not the one you need to tell. Turn around and inform your customer. Don’t treat them like morons. They need to know the reasons for why you’re apparently dicking them around. It makes a huge difference. If you really have a reason, you don’t need to be so shy about sharing it.

          • BarbiCat says:

            Why do you assume we DON’T tell our customers?

            We’re up front about our policies, and the legalities of what we can or can’t do. When people sign up for service, we ask them to verify ID [one must be photo] and tell them that when they call in to make changes to their accounts, they WILL be asked to verify either pertinent account information, or the ID they provided us with.

            And yet, I still get people who tell me it’s ‘illegal’ not to give me their brother’s account number and email password and remove all locks from his account because “I live here too!”. Or the guy who screamed at me for ten minutes because I wouldn’t give him his neighbor’s account history. Even explaining “Would you want someone to call in and request all of YOUR account information, and then have it handed over?” didn’t work, because “I don’t care!”

            Honestly, the ones who bitch the most are the ones who claim they ‘don’t care’ if someone steals their account information or changes all their passwords. No amount of explaining WHY it’s important [and was agreed upon when services were installed] that we verify information is going to deter Joe Angry from yelling at a TSR/CSR who requests his account number so that we can add $50 worth of new services.

  37. HoneyB says:

    i agree with Jim, i work CRS on a regular basis, being a manager of a tech store in a university. if you’re patient and treat me like a human, i’m more apt to do the same. after buying a 2000$ MB pro, 500$ of software, an 70$external keyboard and i don’t have the magic mouse in stock, and telling me i ruined christmas because i didn’t have it and you hope my christmas is as ruined as yours… you have parenting problems if you’re son is going to go “you didn’t buy me a 70$ mouse! I HATE MY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!”

  38. davidsco says:

    What a bunch of BS.

    A. The Manager CAN and DOES do things differently than the lowly rep, who is told to stick to the script.

    B. It is usually the moron Call Center person who makes the “small time” I’d like to get my business done and get on with my life, they’re reading a script and asking me stupid unrelated questions. Please.

    And since it is these idiots job to not accomodate, and waste your time, I give the same courtesy I get.

    This person sounds like a little self-important ass who is unhappy with the lowpaying low-IQ-required job he has. Excited by the little power he feels he has for the first time in his miserable life

  39. DrRamblings says:

    Customer Service is a lost cause at many companies. Most companies made a conscience effort years ago to discount CS support through outsourcing, poor wages, and failing to address high turnover rates. This is the result…a bitter and flippant CSR.

    Consumer response should be one of reallocation of their business, as yelling at a CSR really doesn’t accomplish anything. They have little power, and if the above is any indication, they will wield it until you are blue in the face. Catharsis is for the weak, utilize capitalism instead….just hope the next president doesn’t bail them out.

  40. emax4 says:

    If you want good customer service, then be good customers! Don’t be douchebag customers trying to pull every trick in the book to try and get away with something. Before you judge, walk a mile in a CSR’s shoes, then you’ll see where he’s coming from.

    • Kate says:

      You assume that people here are the ones the CSR was complaining about. Why?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        You assume he was talking to you and me, when he might be speaking in general terms. Why?

      • emax4 says:

        Based on the replies of you and speedwell, you guys must be good customers, and I mean that. After dealing with a lot of crap from customers, a CSR tends to be less trusting and believing of others while on the front lines. Perhaps the author has those customers that DO treat him well, but those are few and far between.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Yeah, it gets hard to realize that the hundred thousandth caller is no more or less of an expert than the very first caller. All you think is “I’ve answered this question a billion times; why aren’t they getting it?” But the truth is that it’s not their job to the be the expert, it’s yours (mine). It’s not their responsibility to remember how you fixed it last time; it’s only nice if they do. You just can’t get sour and take your frustrations out on the customer. Remember that old, miserable teacher you hated, who was close to retirement and couldn’t wait to get rid of the brats already? What happened to the young, idealistic teacher who believed in children? Same thing. She took her focus off the kids and what they learned, and let herself be distracted by petty and great annoyances and hindrances. But the whole point of the job is to be a teacher, or a CSR, or a software support specialist, and the three roles aren’t all that different when you think about it.

  41. TheGreySpectre says:

    I have found that being nice to CSRs gets me a lot more then the people I know who are jerks to them. I had one replace something that was 2 years out of warranty because I was “very easy to work with”

  42. shepd says:

    That’s fine, I did #2 when the bank sent me one collections letter every 3 days (mail takes 2 weeks to get from wherever they send it, so after paying it immediately I still received several of them) because I was in overdraft by $100 on an account that had $1000 overdraft that they decided to (randomly, without any notice other than these letters) cancel the overdraft on.

    I promptly paid the $100 (It was an old account so I had actually forgotten about it… they were making easy interest on that!) and told their collections I will never do business with them and that the house I was (co-incidentally) getting a $190,000 mortgage on (with a $50k down payment) will definitely not be going through their bank. I made sure it didn’t.

    I know they didn’t care, but that’s over $100k in profit that bank lost over that $100. And their ridiculous complaints never went on my credit score (because they gave me no notice) so I got a very decent mortgage rate from another bank who was very happy to take my business. I will never do business with that bank again, so in 5 years when my mortgage renews (pretty standard in Canada) they won’t get it then either (or at any point, ever).

    Good job Royal Bank! Man, I love my credit union!

    • Vandil says:

      Some banks make $10-2K per minute. Your missed 100K mortgage is a mere pittance.

      If you want personalized service with a human being, go to your home branch, find out what banker opened your account and make him/her your liaison for your account issues. Bankers can call in to a more effective banker-only call center that has better resources.

  43. missmarymack says:

    when i worked for sprint, we LOVED it when people threatened to sue. It meant that we had to transfer them to our legal department. It was the easiest way to get the biggest assholes off the phone. you wanna sue? great! talk to our lawyers!

    • crazedhare says:

      I call bullshit on your little boast. I have desperately tried to get many a company (probably including Sprint, as I had constant service issues with them) to transfer me to their legal department, as I am admitted to practice law and would rather talk to someone who has at least a slight chance of possessing higher-level reasoning versus a barely-literate schmuck who can’t do better than answering phones at 1-800-whatever. No one, not one company, has let me deal with their legal department, on the argument that I must first have filed a legal action and then only my counsel may contact the legal department, notwithstanding that not every individual participating in legal process must retain counsel.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        They probably tell the CSRs they’re transferring people to “Legal”. It might not be the company’s actual lawyers. It might be nothing but another call center set up to screen difficult users and use stronger tactics.

      • slappysquirrel says:

        You sound so charming. I can’t imagine why people weren’t falling over themselves to give you what you wanted.

        • crazedhare says:

          It’s a business relationship, not a friendship. Sprint (or whoever) doesn’t owe me customer service if I’m nice enough to earn it – it’s nothing more than a contractual relationship. To the rare CSR who is intelligent, respectful and helpful, I’m perfectly civil, but to the majority liars and cheats, well, suck it up babycakes.

  44. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Does the time I spend on hold while you find someone who can answer my question that YOU should know the answer to count against your metrics?

    • Vandil says:

      Yes, there is a metric for how often CSRs get assistance from higher up.

      Believe it or not, many CSRs have minimal training on specific matters and are moreso trained on how to look up the right answer. Some really rare and twisted issues are not easily found

  45. dantsea says:

    In my experience at several call centers as a supervisor, handling escalated calls from customers, I rarely did anything different from the CSR who handed me the call. While sometimes this would be a training issue I’d need to address with the rep, in most instances there was some disconnect where the customer didn’t appear to be listening. In other cases, people just want to verify that, regrettably, “no” is the answer.

    But from reading some of the responses here and some of the attitudes of “you’re just a lowly piece of shit, please help me,” I don’t wonder that some of you are very well versed in call escalation from the consumer side. With that approach, I’d imagine it’s a requirement.

    Oh, and to the person who identified as a call center supervisor and then gave us a few trembling-with-outrage lines about how you’d never have anyone with the OP’s attitude working for you: Please. I get the feeling the only time you interact with your reps is during QA and performance reviews. The only other person I know that far removed from the realities of their situation is in a hospice, flying high on pain medication.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Thank you for being the call center supervisor who was willing to take the time to explain why you couldn’t fix the issue the way I expected. Your clueless, rude subordinate didn’t do anything but stonewall me and claim you’d say the same thing she already told me. I was not particularly happy that my problem wasn’t fixed, but you paid me the courtesy of assuming I was smart enough to understand the explanation, and you gave me another way of thinking about the problem. Eventually I did get it fixed, based on something you said, and I did it without having to have an adversarial experience with someone else at your firm. I appreciate that.

  46. Kate says:

    “Next point: Do not get mad when I verify your information. It’s part of the process and I have no control over that. Do you want identity theft? No, guess what — we do not either, so we do this to try and salvage some of that”

    Except by the time a person gets to a human voice, the automated system already insisted on all that information, perhaps a couple of times. Any reasonable person would expect you to already have the SSN, account number, birth date etc that they painstakingly typed in a phone pad for the privilege of talking to you.

  47. hawguy says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve used both the “I’ll take my money elsewhere” and “I’ll sue” and actually followed through.

    In the first case, I did move a large business account elsewhere after I was dissatisfied with service I was getting on my personal account. I warned her that I’d move both my personal account and business account elsewhere and she still wouldn’t help me. After closing the account, I got a personal letter from both her and her boss apologizing for the problem I was having and asking me to come back — they lost around $20K/week of bank deposit flow from the business account, plus around $150K of assets.

    In the second case I was having a problem getting a gym membership canceled despite a fax and letter (with return receipt) canceling my membership — they kept billing my card and after I shut off the card (for other reasons) they threatened to send me to a collections agency. After repeated attempts to resolve the situation with the gym manager, I filed a small claims suit. Within a week I got a full refund from the corporate office along with an apology from both the regional manager and the manager at the gym I was trying to cancel with.

  48. Zydia says:

    There have been many times when I have been polite, clear, articulate, prepared, concise, etc. and got nowhere. Then my dad gets on the phone and harasses whoever is on the phone obnoxiously – I feel bad for the other person, but it gets done. It is like the companies have been setup to where there is no other way. This has been my normal experience with big companies, but the smaller ones are better.

  49. captainwalnut says:

    empathic, not empathetic. (hopeless pet peeve)

  50. DWMILLER says:

    Where I work, if a customer pulls a #5(sue) ,we inform them that our conversation is over and give them the number to our legal department.

  51. Nessiah says:

    “The supervisor or manager is always available honestly. We choose to “see” if they are available if you are being too much of an annoyance or pain. You ever notice when you want to congratulate us one is always available and when you are being difficult (yelling or screaming) they are not? “

    So even if I don’t like the CSRs response, instead of arguing I will thank them for being considerate and polite and attempting to be helpful. I will then ask to pass on my words of praise to their manager. And that when I stick it to ‘em!

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Right, you suck it up and eat the shitty food because you know if you send it back, it’s going to get spit in. Then you take it out of the tip when you leave. Same thing. The waiter spits in your food, the CSR (metaphorically) spits in your face.

    • Darkneuro says:

      …..And get the CSR screamed at by the supervisor for not giving the supervisor correct information. THANKS! Love you too!

  52. SuperSnackTime says:

    2.”I will take my money elsewhere”
    Go ahead, it really does not bother us. Honestly. You never do or if you do you will come back. Unless of course you are carrying a very hefty deposit.

    Funny how for all the piling on of this guy, no one calls him out on this point. Because we all know its (almost always) true.

  53. slappysquirrel says:

    I have another, courtesy of my days as a CSR

    #8
    Customer who has been transferred: “I FINALLY get to talk with you. I’ve been on hold for FIFTEEN MINUTES. You should give me a discount just for keeping me waiting for so long.”

    Second-Level CSR: “Umm… That’s funny. Our system logs these calls and it says Mandy transferred you at 7:51. That’s a little under three minutes ago. But I’m sorry to have kept you
    waiting for that long, I was helping another customer who needed second tier support.”

    Customer: “Oh. Well, anyway…”

  54. FrugalFreak says:

    Don’t care! I’m not in business to serve you.

  55. wasabipeas says:

    I don’t agree with everything but I’ve done customer service for American Express, the USPS line, and a small-town newspaper circulation. I do not enjoy call center work. I think the above list gets some of it, but the commentary can rub people the wrong way. Here’s how I’d put it, less as a means to blame the customer but to explain things.

    - “I have been a customer since…” / “Do you know how much money I have spent?”

    Amex customers often asked me to do the latter. I understand why they’re doing this — they want you to understand how they feel, that a relationship they have valued, as a customer, is suddenly not pleasing them. They’re not necessarily attempting to throw their weight around. They’re telling you that they usually LIKE dealing with the company you represent. I’m sorry you’re suddenly having a bad experience with us.

    2.”I will take my money elsewhere”
    I’m not like the original poster who doesn’t care. My job was to not upset customers but, at the same time, uphold the rules given to us by the company we represent. One reason call center work can be so frustrating is that you’re given a limited set of options for appeasing a customer, including the option to have your call escalated. I’ve been on call center floors where I spent a long time with an unhappy customer on hold and my hand raised because the caller wants a manager and I’m unable — I honestly can’t change it in the computer — to fix a problem. I have my own frustrations — they discourage us from escalating calls, ask us to write out tickets rather than get a manager on the phone, or come after us for call times, even when a customer has a complicated issue.

    I can’t even agree with you when I think a company’s policy is unfair and crappy and costs them customers.

    3. “Last time you guys did this and that”
    Unfortunately, policies change, permissions change, and there is high turnover in call centers. If the system used by the call center lets us record histories, that can be helpful, but not all do. Often your company contracts out call center works and goes through different CSR agencies over time — so the team that handled your account last year may be working for a totally different company now.

    (And one reason call time is so important — your CSR is probably working for a contracted group that’s trying to attract and keep contracts by assuring the company that we’ll handle a certain volume of calls in a certain amount of time with only so many employees. It’s definitely a quantity over quality situation.)

    4. “I have a close relationship with your CEO”
    Should that be the case, I recommend communicating directly with the higher-ups. As I said above, often the CSR isn’t a direct employee of the company he or she represents. They are working for a contracted telecommunications agency or temporary employment agency. Often, we’ll have a page in our notebook with the mailing address of the company HQ, but we have no means of accessing their office. We’re bottom of the ladder.

    5. “I’ll Sue”
    I haven’t heard this before, but I’ve never sat around laughing about any calls. You really do get so many in an eight-hour day that they all blur together. If someone did threaten to sue the company, I’d give them the mailing address for company HQ. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know if they have a case or not.

    Honestly, my biggest frustration was from within, not without. I hated having such limited authority to assist or appease the customer, while at the same time being scolded for trying to escalate any calls to my manager.

    At the same time, you’re expected to make sales even on an inbound call, much like the BOFA CSR who had to sell products to a caller closing her deceased mother’s account. I even had to upsell soda and salad as a teenaged CSR for a Pizza Hut and was busted when HQ called and tested me. But I always figured if a longtime PH customer wants a soda or a salad, they’d order one. Judging from most posts on here, customers don’t really dig upsells.

  56. A.Mercer says:

    Wow, if I had a company and I found out Jim was working for me he would be immediately moved to a job where he did not interact with customers. Janitorial, grounds keeping, maintenance, or something like that. I do not not a person like this turning away a customer just because of his mood. The first two things he complains about are details any good business owner would want their employees to consider when dealing with customers.

  57. cloudedknife says:

    Your CSR’s attitude about suing is part of the reason (imo) that they need to pay a “team of lawyers a boatload of money” to make things go away.

    case in point: I spent 6+hours begging Dell CSR’s to honor the terms of my warranty contract to the letter rather than whatever spirit they or their trainers thought the contract actually contained.

    I ended up filing suit and rather than the $75 upgrade compromise I was asking the CSRs for, dell (through it’s lawyer paid a boat load of money) cashed me out for a bit more than 25times what I was asking for.

    • BarbiCat says:

      But, you had a legitimate complaint, based on a warranty/contract that they were failing to honour.

      It might surprise you, but ‘I’ll sue!’ is almost never over something THAT cut and dried. Like the guy who threatened to sue because HE started a fire by hanging things off his hydro lines outside. Okay Sir, I can definitely get you the number to our legal department, but I’m not really sure what you’re going to sue US for…

  58. Not Given says:

    When I call my ISP and tell them I can’t sign onto Usenet, DON’T tell me to call Usenet about it!
    Don’t make me call every day for 3 days in a row, telling me the (web) server is fine, it must be “Usenet’s” problem or my computer is screwed up. Just let me talk to the tech guy, who just happened to KNOW what Usenet is and had it fixed within 10 minutes, once I was able to speak to him, after THREE days of talking to idiots.

    Same thing happened with the password server once, the idiot says there is nothing wrong with the (web) server, let’s delete and reinstall your software. I say it’s not my software I can’t sign on with Hyper Terminal either, the problem is YOUR PASSWORD SERVER. I ended up hanging up on that one, too. When I tried to connect a couple of hours later and it worked, without deleting or reinstalling anything on my system, there was a notice on the ISP website that the password server was working again.

  59. e065702 says:

    The biggest problem I see from the CSR’s posting here is that they see themselves as assisting customers in problems of their own making. In many cases (most I would hazard to guess) the customers are calling because a business is not supplying what they were paid to supply. In those cases the CSR’s are not helping the customer in the traditional sense, rather they should see themselves as helping their business retain a customer and every person that customer talks to.
    For example I would like to believe that I have negatively affected Holiday Inn Express’s business as a result of their “Help” desk having failed to respond to my e-mails, calls, and letters about them completely fouling up my frequent customer points account. If their “help” desk had seen themselves as helping to retain a customer perhaps they would not have me as a blood enemy for life.

  60. Oakscl says:

    I work in a call center for a more… national.. bank. Seems like some of these things are universal!

    “1. “I have been with your bank for XX amount of time”
    We know. We look at your account history.”
    – For me, the only length of time I can see is how long a specific account has been open. I’ve seen some open since 1968, but most of the customers that claim a long-time relationship have only had their accounts open since 2008. Now, that could mean you had closed your old accounts and opened new ones for various reasons.. but I can’t verify that info, so I generally don’t consider it when making decisions and trying to help. It just depends on your situation, how you react, and what I can do to help.

    “2.”I will take my money elsewhere””
    – Most people that ‘threaten’ this usually have less than two grand in the bank, total. I treat each customer the same, and if you’re threatening to leave, there’s really nothing I can do to stop you. All I can do is try to give you the correct info and try to move on from there. If you still want to leave, this is your choice.

    “Next point: Do not get mad when I verify your information. It’s part of the process and I have no control over that. Do you want identity theft? No, guess what — we do not either, so we do this to try and salvage some of that.”
    – Every day I will get at least one person who demands to speak to a supervisor because I cannot verify them. The biggest, BIGGEST thing I have a problem with is people who bypass the automated system, then tell me to ‘hold on’ when I ask for the same info the machine would ask for. Most of the time they have it. When you do not have a card or account number, we -have- to then use social and transaction history. Those aren’t exactly the easiest questions to answer. So please, if you call up, at least have your card number ready for when the rep gets on the phone? Why would you call up a bank, then have to hunt for your account info? Just be ready with it and then we can move on and I can answer questions.

    “To address that whole “my manager will tell you the same thing” is because they will.”
    – I’ve been told to actually say that phrase when it comes to fee reimbursements. In fact, they told me to just say that all fees are ‘ineligible’ for reimbursement, then put the person on hold, ask the bank system whether or not the customer can get a partial or full reimbursement, then come back with the good/bad news. Fee reimbursements have a lot of requirements – stuff like length of time with bank, average balance, number of past reimbursements, and number of overdrafts. If you meet all five, congratulations! You can have a full reimbursement. Four out of five – partial. Three out of five – ooooh, so sorry. No. Supervisors may be able to bypass this system, but they use it too. Their first step is to check your stats. Most of the time I’m careful about who I escalate upwards, and plead their case. I’ll get a waiver for you if I can. However, if you bully me into getting a supervisor on the line, that usually means you are nowhere near close to having it waived and they will 90% of the time say no. My supervisor is literally in the cubicle next to me. I think I hear him say ‘yes’ to fee waivers once a week. And he takes calls from the entire center’s escalation queue.

    I just want to stress the whole ‘have your account info ready before getting on the phone with a representative’ thing – if I can’t verify you, then I’m gonna have to send you to a banking location. I can’t talk anything specific and can only speak in general terms even if you’ve given me your full social and other info. I might be able to look you up, but I don’t have the info I need to prove it’s you. Also, no, we cannot look you up by name, phone number, address, or PIN. We do NOT have access to PINs.

    I keep working for this company because every now and then I’ll be saving someone from identity theft, fraud, and I’ll be helping them the best I can. I genuinely want to help you. So don’t act like a dick, and I’ll do what I can, and if I can’t do anything, I’ll either get you to someone who can, or give you what info I have available for you. Even if you treat me horribly, I’ll do what you allow me to do and I’ll at least make sure you have done what needs to be done. I’ve had people yell at me for thirty minutes straight while I’ve processed a lost check. Or set up their account correctly despite the branch not doing it right the first time. I do have a bit of professional pride, and it’s worth it when I get someone who actually says thank you. Even if most don’t.

  61. Ebriosa says:

    1. “I have been with your bank for XX amount of time”

    I work in a CU and when I hear this it’s bragging and I’m impressed.

    The only thing common in my experience to this list is people getting upset at verifying information. When I first started, I didn’t know a single member, so I had to ask everyone and the odd one would get indignant despite not knowing who I was! Now I know most everyone, so I don’t run into that any longer.

    There is really nothing like a bank/CU where nearly everyone is greeted by name when they come in.

  62. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    CSRs… there is nothing wrong with telling your customers the reasoning behind a decision, unless you’re ashamed of it. There is nothing wrong with telling a customer “no” so long as you make sure they understand why and what their next step should be. There is no reason a customer should have to ask you “What would you do in my place?”. You should always be thinking that. There is no reason to treat any customer like a child or a moron. There is nothing wrong with being polite to difficult customers. There is no virtue in being shitty to people. Grow up already. Be a human being.

    • BarbiCat says:

      I’m honestly not sure if you deal with the general public in a call centre, because even doing those things does not stop certain people from being giant asshats.

      I once had a customer who had no phone service. He refused to troubleshoot, and I had already totally exhausted what could be done from the office. Our Phone repair crew was already overbooked, and the earliest we could get him in was later the next evening, and this was AFTER I personally went through two separate escalated support departments trying to overbook this for him. Like, literally begging and pleading with our senior support and dispatch for the earliest possible appointment. And I explained that to him, that we could get the techs out at that point but no earlier, because there just physically *weren’t* enough techs available.

      He still yelled, screamed, told me I was lying, demanded an escalation, and also demanded I cancel several other customer’s calls so he could be bumped up in the queue. Yeah, he got his escalation. And no, he didn’t get an earlier spot because as I’d explained to him, I’d already exhausted every possible attempt to try get his call booked sooner. He was already being credited for the time out AND inconvenience. It was a crappy situation, but even the reality didn’t stop him from being incredibly abusive towards me.

      So, because you’re perfect, how would you have handled that?

  63. jaredwilliams says:

    I’m so tired of hearing “Hello this Dorothy Rosebloom from 12 wildwood Rd windham NH 03087 and…” Yeah I totally know who you are “YEAH HELLO DOROTHY HOW ARE THINGS!!?? HOWS MR. ROSEBLOOM!!?”

    Shut the fuck up and get to the point dude.

    • DorianDanger says:

      haha at my job too, people do this. “Hi this is Victoria Smith from Iowa.” then they do like a 30 second pause, like I’m supposed to say OMG HI!!!!!! I remember you. Also I get a lot of “I think I talked to you before.” No. No you didn’t. “Yes!!! It was you.” and like we do this whole 2 minute thing where she’s insisting I’ve talked to her before. Ugh.

  64. owtytrof says:

    5. “I’ll Sue”

    When I was a phone support rep for a company that offered a private line of credit, I used to love to hear this one. It was one of the few instances where we had a strict script to follow: “Yes sir/ma’am, please hold while I transfer you to our switchboard operator, and you’ll need to ask for Legal.”

  65. calchip says:

    Of the past, oh 50 calls where I’ve had to escalate something past a (usually awful) front-line CSR, I’ve gotten what I asked for probably 45 out of 50 times. And of those 50 calls, on probably 48 of them, the CSR assured me that “My supervisor will tell you the same thing and won’t be able to help you”.

    Oh, and in one case, the supervisor insisted that what I wanted wasn’t possible and he was going to make notes on my account to ensure that no one else would do what I was asking for. It took an additional 10 or 15 minutes to call back and get somebody competent and not only get what I had asked for, but to reach the call center manager and file a formal complaint against the arrogant and unhelpful supervisor.

  66. JohnJ says:

    “I have a close relationship with your CEO”

    Not true. Customers are, however, quite capable of writing formal (US Mail) letters of complaint to a company’s CEO. I’ve done it, with excellent results.

  67. Darkneuro says:

    As a CSR with the same co for 8 years, but with different clients (the dreaded outsourced employee—we’re in the States!), we’re required to: Say hello; Ask you what your issue is; Tell you we’ll be happy to look into that for you. If we place you on hold, we’re supposed to ask if you will hold, give you an idea of how long the hold will be, put you on hold, come back from hold in the amount of time we specified and thank you for holding. Then we can go ‘free form’. After getting details and fixing or trying to fix the issue, we’re REQUIRED to make you one of 3 or 4 ‘upsells’ showing on our screen for you per the script on the upsell. When we’re finished with your stated issue, we’re supposed to ask you if there is anything else we can assist with, we’re supposed to thank you for calling and being our customer.
    Is it ‘scripted’? No, they haven’t given us a set script to follow, but we ARE supposed to follow the above formula. When you have to talk to 60-75 people a day in an 8 hour shift and solve all their problems? You create your own ‘script’. The above? It’s easy:
    “Thank you for calling XYZ, my name is Sunshine, how may I help you today? I’ll be happy to look into your widget for you today, Mr. Smith. While I’m accessing my information, how’s your day going today? Great! I see here that although you have A-B-C business with us, we do not handle D-E-F for you. Have you thought of moving your D-E-F to us? We can offer you these benefits. Not interested? Thank you for letting me tell you about that product. Now, on your widget…(insert free form)
    Ok, Mr. Smith, we’ve taken care of your widget for you. Just to summarize, we have (go over AGAIN what has been done), do you understand? Great! Is there anything else I can assist you with today? Thank you for calling XYZ!”
    The quasi-scripting makes it easier. What’s tough about it? I’d love to talk on the phone all day, you may be thinking. Think again.
    Listen to people who want the world for free (TANSTAAFL!) 60-75 times in a standard work day with cussing, threats of bodily injury and the customer’s refusal to admit they did anything wrong, and then start complaining about customer service reps. The first time you get someone telling you their account is overdrawn all over town but they didn’t MEAN to bounce that check with you, you should just forgive them the $25 NSF fee and all late fees even though this is the 6th time in 12 months this has happened? You’ll run screaming into the night never to return.

    OH, and muffle the screaming parrot, barking dog and children when you call. I can’t hear you over YOUR background noise.

  68. XTC46 says:

    Fact: If you know the CEO/President/Someone important on any kind of personal level you would be talking to them, not me; OR they would have asked me to call you.

  69. HollzStars says:

    I’ve worked for a couple of call centers, doing a few different things, and I gotta disagree with the “if your being a pain in the ass, a supervisor won’t be available” To be honest, getting a sup call can be the highlight of my day- if, like at one call center the supervisor had to come and take over my phone, while I got an extra break!

    My personal biggest peeve is being called Ma’am. I’m not 90! I gave you my name, if your gonna call me anything call me that! (and ask if you forget, really, I don’t mind!)

    Second biggest peeve is people that don’t know what they are calling for, or how to get what they need. I am not allowed to suggest you speak to a supervisor, even if I know they can help. You need to voice that! Don’t be afraid to!

    I find, that while supervisors will agree with pretty much anything a CSR says its not so much that they “less human” but more as a “company solidarity” type thing.

    If I’m making small talk about the weather or what have you- I’m have computer problems and I’m not allowed to tell you. Go with it, I get in trouble if there is to much dead air!

    People who call in while driving are the WORST, since you can hear the car moving, and they never have the correct info on them. As well, several of the call center jobs I have had are for tech support. You can’t do tech support while driving!

    And thats another thing! If your calling in for tech support, know the name of the product and have it near by!

    - Just My 2 Cents :)

  70. lettucefactory says:

    I worked a call center in my early 20s.

    Several of the things “Jim” complains about are beyond the CSR’s control. Unreasonably short ideal call times, for instance, or asking for the customer to verify his identity eight times. I get the frustration of having to abide by a foolish policy you didn’t set. But while these policies are not the CSR’s fault, they are not the customer’s fault, either. Taking it out on the customer is not going to help. Both customer and CSR are kind of stuck in the same hell when it comes to all this.

    Also, while I agree that many things have to be evaluated on a case by case basis, it is not unreasonable for the customer to expect X to happen again when X happened the first time. I mean, it’s actually quite logical. And yes, it is true that responses will change by CSR mood, that is also not the customer’s fault and the customer certainly can’t be expected to plan for it.

  71. Kingeryck says:

    Another tip: If you want a refund.. be honest and ask politely. “Sorry, I messed up do you think you could help me out?” will go much farther than “I HATE YOU GUYS IM GONNA CALL THE NEWS AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND TELL EVERYONE I KNOW TO CANCEL MY ACCOUNT”.

    Sometimes the squeaky wheel does get the grease but sometimes the squeaky wheel just gets replaced. There are plenty of other customers in line, we won’t go under if you leave. If you are an asshole, we will do all we can to ensure you do not get that refund.

  72. brownhb says:

    Ha. I was a CSR for a very, *very* small company. I dealt with the calls all day and became less sympathetic (not in a mean way, just not falling over myself to give away discounts and whatnot). My supervisor was the business owner and she would do *anything* to keep a customer. I understand that need, but she put up with so much awful shit from the few very irate customers who called. If someone called me horrible names I wouldn’t repeat in front of my children, I wouldn’t offer them a significant discount – I would tell them sorry we couldn’t do business with them anymore and hang up. But I guess that’s why I don’t own a business.

  73. tidomonkey says:

    2.”I will take my money elsewhere”

    Everyone from the lowest on the totem pole to the top of the company would love for bad customers to take their business elsewhere.

    I’m not referring to people who are rude and unpleasant as bad customers. Bad customers are people whose patronage is harmful our business. Reasonable customers, whether unpleasant or not, can are usually given a satisfactory solution.

    Businesses are out to make money. If you cost them more than you make them, yes, they would rather see you take your business elsewhere.

  74. ned4spd8874 says:

    One thing that really irks me is when the system says I need to enter in my account number for example. And then when I talk to an actual human, they ask for it again. Why? I’ve already given you guys that.

    Along the same line, just the other day when I was talking to my mortgage holder, I had to give my information 3 times! Name, address, phone number, etc. Why does each person have to verify that it’s me on the phone? Especially if the person A hands my call over to person B and stays on the line to explain to person B the situation?!?!? Person A was just on the line telling you who I am and why I’m calling!

    It’s frustrating.

    • BarbiCat says:

      That’s bad internal transferring. It’s called cold transferring, and should NEVER be done. Believe me, we hate it as much as you do. If you’ve already confirmed all your account information, they should be speaking with the other department directly and bringing them up to date before they hit Transfer. Personally, I never cold-transfer, especially since my transfer line will connect me with the first available CSR/TSR, so I’m generally not waiting any longer than 30 seconds to get someone in any other department.

      • ned4spd8874 says:

        “they should be speaking with the other department directly and bringing them up to date before they hit Transfer”…but they do! That’s what bugs me. Like the BOA example I gave. The one person actually stayed on the line. Both of them were on the line. She got the one guy on the line while I was on hold, explained what was going on and then brought me on. She said, this is so-and-so and he’s going to help you. And then, again, I had to verify I was who I said I was. Annoying!

  75. BarbiCat says:

    While it’s very disheartening to hear that basically everyone has a crappy experience calling [American] call centres, I’d be interested to know if those same people advocate verbally abusing TSRs/CSRs the second they answer the phone – because I’m sorry to say, it seems like they do.

    I don’t work off a script and I don’t lie to my customers. I’m empowered to pretty much do ANYTHING I want for the customer, within reason, and I do on a regular basis. I like my job, I like fixing things, and I honestly wish I could fix *everything* over the phone and never need to roll a truck. [As it is, we STILL have the shortest wait times in Canada for repair calls and our average speed of answer on the phones is 40 seconds to a minute]. I’m good at my job, I genuinely enjoy it, and the company I work for is constantly training us on customer service and trying to improve customer engagement as well as employee engagement.

    And yet… I STILL get customer who are rude to the point of abusive on the phones. I still get people who scream at me or call in looking specifically to pick a fight, even if they don’t have any problems with their services [the last angel screamed ‘YOU SON OF A BITCH!’ in to the receiver the second I answered, very nice]. I wish maybe for once, people would see that even great companies with good policies and helpful, empowered employees STILL have to deal with customers who are rude, abusive, outrageous, or even irrational, and that it’s not always ‘our fault’.

    But hey, what do I know, I just work in a call centre. I’m not human, or anything.

  76. Razor512 says:

    The threat to sue is not always funny to the CSR

    One time, a friend had a few problems with a CSR, I went with him to find a resolution to the problem and the worker was nasty and refused to do what was right and what was in their power. He threatened to sue, the CSR told him off, a few weeks later, the CSR was gone when a higher up in the company had to show up in small claims over a problem that could have been fixed in less than a minute.

    If you threaten to sue and you have documentation on your side, be ready to follow through. For me or any of my friends, if there is a threat to sue, take it seriously as there is a 99% chance that it will happen if the problem cant be resolved in a civilized manner and the worker blocks me when up my way to the chain of command. If there is a major problem and I cant get into contact with a higher up when all other workers are reluctant, the higher ups will see me one way or another.

    My solution, provide the info needed for an EECB if you hide the info then higher ups will end up with a less pleasant way of getting contacted.

  77. BrewG0D says:

    Most of this is true except the manager part. Those the ones that don’t help are, more often than nnot, in their job for the wrong reasons. If you’re nice I’ll get the person that knows what they’re doing and can bend the rules. If you’re a jerk then you get the VP’s buddies with three months experience and a god complex.

  78. Grenwulf says:

    When I was working collections/repo for a small-town bank, I loved it when people would threaten to “take all my business to another bank” while I was repossessing their car or trying to collect a payment from them. My response was ALWAYS “Promise?”

  79. Amer M says:

    I find the premise that this is a “typical CSR” totally ridiculous. Most CSRs don’t look at account history and consumerist.com is a testament that mood is more of a factor than policy, both good and bad.

  80. exsprintminion says:

    Dead on. I worked for Sprint for 5 years and all of my supervisors were far less generous than I was.

  81. maruawe says:

    They make sense, I worked for an airline reservations company and time is limited on calls. people want to be coddled because they are who they are,to a CSR it’s just another name in 500 or more for that shift nothing personal,but they are people too and are working within the parameters given them by their boss. Please and thank you are not usually said to a CSR so that is nice to hear once in a while And never talk down to a CSR that will be in the notes forever
    and read during every call you make. Supervisors don’t have to be on the floor at all times so when they say that the supervisor is not available they may be telling the truth…..

  82. Benyth says:

    I once had a fun hour with a CSR at a major bank because she wouldn’t transfer me to a manager, but she couldn’t hang up the phone on me either. She had to wait until I said that there was nothing else that she could do for me –

    Me: I’d like to talk to a manager.
    Her: I’m sorry one is not available. Is there anything else I can do for you today?
    Me: Yes, you can let me speak to a manager.
    Her: I’m sorry one is not available. Is there anything else I can do for you today?

    And repeat.

    She finally got so frustrated after an hour that she put me on hold for about 10 minutes and than came back and transferred me to a manager, who was able to solve my problem.

    I never got mad, she never got mad, we were always pleasant to each other, but I wasn’t going to get off the phone until my problem was solved, which she couldn’t do it, and she wasn’t going to hang up on a customer, but was under orders not to transfer calls to the manager.

    I won.

  83. anyanka323 says:

    I’ve worked in customer service envionments with primary point of contact being face to face, but am currently work in a call center like workplace. My position is a non-production one, which means minimal phone contact.

    If “Jim” works in a call center, I really doubt that he is a lower level CSR who is one the phone most of the time. I would guess that he started out as a CSR and worked his way up to a supervisor or manager position. Most of my co-workers who are really good at their jobs don’t want to be in a supervisory position because of they are good at their jobs and the pay increase isn’t worth the extra hassels from both clients and corporate. I’m not saying that “Jim” wasn’t a good CSR, but management in call centers tends to consist of those burned out by constant contact with people. Most CSRs from my experience working and as a customer dealing them tend to be women, rather than men.

    I know from experience that you become very cynical and sarcastic when working in a customer service environment, but you save that for your co-workers who get it. It’s unprofessional to let that attitude show in person or in your voice over the phone. We all know how dumb people can be, but you try your best to find a solution for the person you’re helping. If he let that attitude show, then he probably wouldn’t last too long in most places.

    As someone who has had experiences with call centers, my least favorite ones to call are ones in the South. I’m from the Midwest and have no accent, so I really have trouble understanding Southern accents. I hated calling my former insurance company for that reason. I could understand the people who worked in Dell’s India call centers better than I could people who worked in call centers in the US South. I know customer service is a loss leader for most companies, but they could at least make sure that the CSRs they hired were understandable and didn’t have a heavy accent. When I cancelled, they asked for the reason and other than their poor coverage, I told them that I had trouble understanding their CSRs.

  84. daemonaquila says:

    To CSRs – I’ve managed a call center before. I know that some of the above is BS, and some of it is true. However…

    I don’t give a rat’s ass if you can only spend a few minutes with me. It’s your job to resolve a problem, not to get me off the phone as quickly as possible without resolving it. If you can’t resolve it, send me up to a manager immediately. Guess what? It gets me off your phone. Or if it takes longer, it takes longer. Tough. I’ve fired CSRs who are taking too long on EVERY SINGLE CALL, and I’ve fired CSRs who care only about the technical requirements and don’t do a bit of good. But I’ve never held a certain percentage of tough calls taking longer against a CSR. Neither will any other halfway competent manager. If you really have an asshat for a supervisor, you’re better off getting unemployment.

    Don’t. Ever. Screw. Around. When. Someone. Asks. For. A. Manager. Not unless you want to be fired for cause and lose your chances at unemployment. That crap doesn’t fly – and it gets companies very bad PR, AG complaints, suits…

    Oh, yeah – and “last time” can count under the law. In some circumstances, waiving certain parts of a contract, etc. can create modifications of the parties’ duties to each other. Don’t ever assume that policy hasn’t been written a certain way for a purpose and can be “bent.” Your “whim” is never a valid reason for making a decision, either for or against a customer.

  85. lumberg says:

    Going to post the same thing here that I posted to the other thread. If you already read this, skip it. If not, please take a minute or eight.

    As a long time retail employee, I can honestly say that whenever I said “I can’t make that change in the system” it was the complete truth. Same for “I can pass you on to a manager, but she’s going to tell you the same thing.” We’re not idiots, nor are we LOOKING for a fight. In MOST cases (NOT all, but most), if we tell you we can’t change the system, it’s because we can’t. We know you’re going to whine and cry about it. We don’t want to hear it. If we could avoid it, we would. As for the manager, we say that when it applies (get the manager to change the system, for example). We don’t program our point of sale systems, and most are not NEARLY as “open to changes” as most customers seem to think.

    As for our “understanding your problem” what would you prefer us to say? We have to be polite, no matter how much we want to tell you where to stick your whining and crying. So we have to say something fake like that. Do we care that you’re unhappy? Not really, other than the trouble you’re causing us. We don’t get paid enough to care. What’s that? Get another job if we don’t like retail? Right, cause entry-level jobs are so easy to get.

    Stupid customers don’t seem to understand that the people who are “serving” them are underpaid and overworked people who most often don’t give a damn and don’t have real reason to give a damn. You treat us like crap, we are scheduled crap hours, and we get crap pay.

    First and foremost, let me say that we, the employees of the customer service field, are human beings just like the rest of you. We have families, friends, lives, and bills. We have good times and bad, great accomplishments and horrible tragedies. Just like you, we do have emotions, and just like you, sometimes our emotions can get the best of us.

    I’ve heard it said by many people that if you work in the service industry, you should be prepared to always put on a happy face and give each customer the most pleasant and wonderful shopping experience they’ve ever received. Typically, those same people say that if you aren’t prepared to perform that way, then the service industry isn’t for you. This, oh arrogant customer, is a crock.

    There are very few people who work at CheapMart because their dream was to spend their career stocking shelves at CheapMart. It’s quite unlikely that the guy who makes your burger at Cheeseburger Champion does it because it was the greatest aspiration he had for his life. Sure, there are people out there like that, but the number is likely to be something like one out of every thousand. Yes, I pulled that statistic outta my head. I base it on the number of people I’ve worked with over the years. Over a decade of retail experience and I have never come across anyone who felt they were working their “dream job.”

    The majority of service workers are doing the job for two reasons: They needed a job, and (insert company name here) hired them. Plain and simple.

    The common notion out there seems to be that if we don’t like working customer service jobs, we should get out of that field. Right, because it’s just THAT simple! Hate to break it to you, but not everyone has a degree to get a job in their preferred field. Not everyone has the money to GET a degree in their preferred field. And while a degree isn’t necessary to get a job, the majority of the most easily accessible jobs out there that don’t require a degree involve customer service in one form or another.

    For that matter, many don’t even HAVE a preferred field because they haven’t yet discovered something that they really enjoy doing. It took me four years after high school to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In the meantime, when you’re a teenager with no work experience under your belt, who is going to hire you? The answer, of course, is the customer service industry. Sure, there are other companies here and there that might want to take a chance on an inexperienced teenager, but the majority of job opportunities come from the service field.

    And that’s what most customers don’t seem to understand. We are just working our way through college. We’re working a second job to pay bills. We’re trying to buy cars, pay off student loans, pay auto insurance, etc. We’re not trying to sell you a pack of paperclips at Office Supply Land because we have some kind of absurd passion for office supply products, we’re doing it because it was the job we were offered, and it pays the bills – or some of them, anyway. You can’t expect us to be all happy-go-lucky about leading you to the toilet paper aisle or extra-sizing your french fries. It’s not exactly a very fulfilling lifestyle, but for most of us, it’s a temporary necessity. If you told an unhappy retail employee to get another job if they didn’t like customer service, they’d likely respond with, “I’d love to. Who’s hiring?”

    Then there is the human factor that no one ever seems to take into account. As I said, we are people with lives just as much as you are, and we experience emotions too. I remember an incident at Computer Galaxy when I almost got in trouble because some over-sensitive customer got all upset over something that had nothing to do with her. We had three long lines at all the registers, and we were trying to get people out as fast as we could. One of our salesmen brought up a cart full of stuff – a computer, monitor, printer, cables, etc – for me to ring up. Then he decides he forgot something and runs off, telling us to wait a minute. I started to get pretty annoyed because we had a lot of people waiting and the salesman had stopped my line dead. Well, this customer saw me shaking my head slightly, and when the salesman returned, she demanded that he summon the manager because I was “huffing and puffing” over having to ring up their sale.

    I didn’t have a problem with her before that, but you can be sure that AFTER she jumped to that absurd conclusion, I was pretty ticked off at her. It infuriates me how customers LOOK for things to complain about.

    If an employee is taking a personal call at the cash register, most customers get annoyed. What if it is an emergency? What if they’re getting an update on a sick relative? What if the babysitter just called to tell them the electricity had been shut off? Customers have no idea what’s going on in these people’s lives, yet they whine and complain if they aren’t helped in less than thirty seconds. I refer to it as the “God Complex.” If people aren’t worshipped as gods the second they walk through the door of any business, then employees should be fired and free product showered down from the skies. That’s right; should something happen that offends them, nothing less than the unemployment line for the offending employee will satisfy. If someone loses their cool and tells you to “Shut up,” you respond by demanding that person’s job. Should the employee have said that to you? No, of course not. Should he lose the ability to pay his bills and feed his family for it? Absolutely not. We are human beings. We have emotions, and we make mistakes. Get your heads out of your rear-ends and move on with life.

    And while we’re on the subject of pay, let’s talk about the money issue. Many customer service employees work two jobs. Sometimes three. Why? Because we get paid next to nothing while the world is expected of us. Take my cashier job at Computer Galaxy, for example. For $7 an hour, we were expected to sell Product Replacement Plans, Training Classes, Tech Services, Unmatched (Another phone/training service), Computer Galaxy Credit Cards, Add-on products, and internet services. The phrase “Ask Every Customer” was pounded into our heads multiple times daily. Our numbers were closely monitored, and we were ripped in half when we didn’t reach our goals. And don’t be so foolish as to think that we were given commissions or spiffs for those things. For a short time, commissions were a part of the Computer Galaxy pay structure, but they were so small it was laughable (we’re talking $10 for meeting your goals for a week), and they didn’t apply to cashiers anyway. So, given all of that, how enthusiastic and happy can you really expect an employee to be?

    Office Supply Land was the same way. The only “technicians” they hired while I worked there were recent high school graduates who were not certified. Why no certification? So they could pay them $8.00 per hour, of course. Honestly – what kind of quality tech work can you expect from that kind of employee?

    Then we have to face the ramifications of all that. We ask every customer to buy every service we offer because our bosses demand that we do it. So, of course, every customer gets angry that we’re badgering them to spend more money. They see us as money hungry employees trying to squeeze every last penny. In reality, we’re just trying to keep our jobs. And when our inexperienced “technician” screws up your computer because the company wouldn’t put out the money for a real tech, the customer service reps have to take the heat from the customer for it.

    We’re getting paid like crap to pretend we care while you scream at us for something we didn’t do, had no power to stop, and have very little power to fix.

    Customers don’t seem to grasp any of this. The phrase “The customer is always right” seems to have brainwashed people into thinking that they should get their way no matter how absurd their demands are. I read online about a woman who got angry because an employee tried to stop her from cutting ahead of a line of people waiting to have their receipts checked. The employee grabbed the woman’s purse to try to hold her back. Now, I’ll be the first to say that the employee had no right to act the way that he/she did, but at the same time, this lady really thought she was justified in cutting ahead of everyone else who had been waiting because she only had one item and was, as she put it, “in a hurry.” How does that make you more important than other people? The whole thing could’ve been avoided if she hadn’t thought she was better than everyone else.

    Then there was the story of the customer who tried to use a taser on a Cheeseburger Champion employee who got their order wrong. How about the woman who called a technical radio show to get help stealing her neighbor’s Wi-Fi connection? People just don’t understand how ridiculous their behavior can be or the hassle we go through in dealing with them, yet they expect us as service people to always be happy and enthusiastic.

    You want good service? Here’s the one and only tip you’ll need: You know how you expect us to treat you when you walk into our store or call our company?

    Treat us the same way.

    I promise you’ll have more good experiences than bad that way. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of lazy and uncaring employees out there who don’t give a damn whether you’re polite or not. But for the most part, you’ll get a far more pleasant experience with an understanding and friendly attitude than you ever will with anger and threats. Just keep in mind that sometimes, no matter what you do, you won’t be getting your way.

    Because the truth is that the customer is not always right.

    https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/27796
    http://retail-ramblings.blogspot.com/

  86. Darrell says:

    I work in tech support for a major cable company, and I have to agree with everything in this post. The most important thing to remember when dealing with customer service is to be nice and patient. If you’re nice to me, I’ll bend over backwards to make you happy. If you start off with a crappy attitude, we’re not going to get anywhere.

    I dont care how long you’ve been a customer. We’re not a monopoly (regardless of the fact that people LOVE to tell us that we are).. you have options, try another one.

    I can understand that you’re frustrated that your internet isn’t working. i would be pissed off too, but ya know what? Shit happens. I have no control over the fact that a car swerved into a pole and knocked out your cable or internet.. and frankly, cable TV really isn’t that important in the long run, is it?

    Cable TV is not your babysitter.. dont ask me what you’re going to do with your kids if the cable isn’t working. I dont care.

    If you’re running your business from home, you should have a BUSINESS account with us. We’re not responsbile for money you’re losing because your internet isn’t working. You should’ve shelled out the extra $20 a month to make sure this wouldn’t happen.

    If I ask you to do something, do it. It doesn’t matter how much you might think you know about this.. this is what I do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I’m not just an idiot with an instruction manual. If you knew that much about it, you wouldn’t be calling me for help.

    Frankly, my job kinda sucks. Nice, patient people are few and far between, so the nicer you are to me, but the more I’ll do for you.

  87. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    Fun Fact: good customer service means helping the customer without pleading to them to assist you in your endeavors. While we would all love for clients to be cooperative and well prepared, this is an unrealistic expectation. If you’re that annoyed by them perhaps it’s time for a work environment with less pressure and constraints you can actually work within…Or maybe you could try a field of work that doesn’t rely on your low threshhold for stupidity?

  88. lyllydd says:

    One item he forgot to mention about the process of escalating a call to a manager.
    Very often, the next person to whom you speak will not be a manager, but an employee on the same level as the last one, posing as a manager. They are using the second voice technique to see if they can either get you to calm down or get rid of you.
    Not going to say where, but yes, I have seen it done in the workplace.
    When you have to call customer service, keep a call log including dates, times, names, and who told you what. It will come in handy for the inevitable Consumerist rant and EECB.

  89. botulismo says:

    I worked in technical support for AOL, and the way they judged you based on your call time was really ridiculous. It still is ridiculous that companies use it as a way to determine success. At AOL, that was their primary metric. Sure, they would also judge you based on whether the person called back with a problem within a certain amount of time, but that number wasn’t of primary concern to them, only getting them off the phone and reading prompts for “special offers” at the end of the call. I never had my number of followup calls come up as an issue and they only addressed it as a passing remark in training. Basically, they said the only reason they would fire you based on your calls was if you weren’t consistently making the mark with time and not making sales pitches.

    At least twice a week, you’d have a sit down with a “buddy” (a supervisor, but they had to use that name because AOL loves buddies) who would listen in on your calls. They had a philosophy that no person ever would have a perfect call, and that they would always find room for improvement. I accept constructive criticism when it is helpful, but basically being told that you will never be good enough can really weigh on a person’s psyche. It was almost like they were trying to keep their employees in a constant state of fear.

    Most of the small talk people made was anger at the fact that a large portion of the technical support was based in India. A lot of people couldn’t understand their accents, and that can be frustrating while dealing with a computer problem. At the time I worked there we were basically the “overflow” for India more than the other way around. Of course, eventually they ended up firing everyone in the US and moved everything to India.

    I understand everything this guy said, and this guy has every right to say these things. Life stinks at the bottom. Having customers try to bully you gets old fast. Companies try to squeeze things into a box like “get every call done in 4 minutes” and it’s really stressful because people are quite different than that and not every call can fit into that box.

  90. prjctfish says:

    well, no matter what they say i HAVE sued a number of times quite successfully. Small Claims Court or Pro Sea in Civil Court really freaks these guys out. I sued Verizon and they settled before it even went to court; they are afraid of the publicity.

  91. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    That does actually happen, yes. Sometimes saying, “I’m sorry,” is a queue to customers who are blind with rage that you are somehow directly responsible. I’ve been accused of maliciously withholding internet access more than once just for inching anywhere /near/ an apology. There is also the inevitable customer who is completely offended if you offer any kind of sympathy or condolences for their plight, with or without actually admitting any fault, because you clearly don’t understand them (which brings into question why they’re still on the phone with you, but I digress)…

    “You don’t have any idea what it’s like to be in my position!”
    Yes, clearly I am a robot who has no emotions and has somehow managed to survive into adulthood while escaping the terror that is the customer service phone queue.

    While some call centers do request that CSRs not ascribe any liability to the company they’re working for, others request that “I’m sorry” be removed from one’s repertoire of “key phrases” because you may be apologizing for something prematurely that is not actually your fault, the company’s fault, or anyone’s fault, really.

    Sometimes things just happen and you may not know from where you’re sitting that the billing error the client experienced was due to a third-party managing your company’s bank account, or that the customer’s internet service is down because their bunny chewed on some cables after it got loose this afternoon, or that there is a whole department somewhere already dedicated to fixing the problem that they were hoping would never last long enough to inconvenience the customer in the first place.

  92. damageddude says:

    4. “I have a close relationship with your CEO”
    Chances are you do not,

    Heh. Years ago, maybe a few years after my dad, my mother was at a local branch of the bank he had been a VP for before he died.There was some sort of problem with the account that the teller wasn’t going to take care of, even though it involved my dad’s pension. My mother, in disgust, said she’ll just call Mr. X when she got home. Mr. X had been my father’s co-worker and was now directly under the bank’s president (who my dad also worked with). As soon as my mother dropped Mr. X’s name, there was a silence and all of the sudden the problem was resolved. And the only reason she mentioned Mr. X and not the CEO was because Mr. X was easier to get a hold of.

    • AlwaysWritenSue says:

      Exactly. This is the kind of thing “teeny bopper mentality” CSR’s don’t understand. It’s not just who I know, but it’s who I know that knows the CEO’s neighbor!! My family has been with some institutions / retailers / financiers for over 80 years. I may not have money, but guess what? The rest of my family does and more than once they have pulled ALL of their money out because of the treatment I got and that Mr. or Ms. CSR you can’t see on your screen !!!

      I have gone way out of my way for years to address bad behavior with companies, and I still do. I pay my bills on time; early, even, and I expect to get something for it.

  93. AlwaysWritenSue says:

    As information, #1 this CSR is most likely a CEO or something, I seriously doubt it is a CSR.
    #2 I really do either know the CEO or have already looked him up before I call you, if the problem has gotten to the point, it is serious enough for me to waste my time and call you.
    #3 If I don’t get resolution, I write every BBB, govt agency AND the CEO, and my attorney and I do really sue. (and I win) Or the company gets fined thousands and thousands of dollars.
    Oh did I mention, that if I have time, I also picket the business.
    It’s funny the CSR’s like, Jim, if real, never believe I will follow up, but I do. I have 10 years of files saved on just the last 10 years of following up with my legitimate complaints.

    And as one poster mentioned, I make sure I tell everybody I see how much XYZ company does not care about their customers and how they try to make you believe that their “policy” is law. BULL – I usually have the USC code or CFR already in my hands, too.

    People don’t take corporations “policies” as the gospel. Stand up for your rights.

  94. darthwaveous says:

    I used to have this type of attitude when I work Tech support for Gateway Computers. Looks like its time for career change for this CSR. All this animosity and disgruntlement can’t be good for your health.