A former employee has stepped forward to tell us what it’s like to work as tech support rep in a Verizon DSL call center. Learn about how the supervisors aren’t really supervisors, the numbers and call times the reps have to meet to keep their jobs (and the sneaky tricks they use to meet these numbers), and more…
I started near the beginning of a new center that was taking care of business DSL Technical Support and when the job started it was a great job. We were greatly encouraged to take care of our customers and technical knowledge was second to none. I spent around 2 years working for the company and multiple help positions.
The center was made up of several different departments. These included Level 2 Technical Support, Level 3 Technical Support, Business Intelligence, Quality and Management. Furthermore Level 3 Technical support was further divided into Business Order Status, Supervisor Take Over, Ticket Management, Outage and Presidential Appeals. Additionally Level 2 Technical Support also had a separate division for “High Care” customers, and eventually Premium Technical Support would join the team. The hierarchy of people that the customer will ever deal with is only two tiers. You call in and talk to a Level 2 agent, however if there is a requirement you may eventually speak to a Level 3 and if you are really persistent you may get the privilege of speaking to an actual supervisor.
7. The Supervisor You’re Talking To Is Not Actually A Supervisor
My first confession on the list is about the Escalations department, which never used to exist. When the center first opened and a customer would demand to talk to a supervisor, they would actually end up talking to a supervisor. This created problems however ranging from supervisors who would dodge taking calls from customers to supervisors who were overwhelmed with customers and could not do any of their actual work. The solution was to create a department of agents to handle the issue, and this is not all bad. One of the major problems when supervisors would take over calls is that almost none of the supervisors had any technical knowledge and were virtually unable to assist the customer in any way unless the customer was only looking to vent about their experience or in some cases give kudos to outstanding service. There are approximately 10-15 “supervisors” for each center to handle the escalation calls now. Each of these agents has their own direct phone number which they can give out to the customer. There is a standard external number that the customer must call, then they are prompted for a password (4-6 digits long and changes monthly) then they are asked to enter the extension of the supervisor, or they may press 0 to get the first available supervisor. When the team first started they were allowed to a lot to help the customer, sadly their privilege to help with stuck orders or technicians who didn’t show up were eventually removed. Things may change in the future but unfortunately the supervisors are bound to the same support boundaries as the normal Level 2 Technical Support Agents, and in most cases are unable to assist the customer any further.
6. The Metrics That Rule Our Lives
- Handle Time (15 min): During an 8 hour shift, the agent must achieve an average handle time of 15 minutes. This timer starts from the time the agent hears a beep in their headphone to notify them that the call has started to the time they set themselves as ready to take another call. When I worked there we had a lot of calls where the customer simply got to the wrong department so this was normally an easy metric to meet.
- Hold Time (2-3 min): If for any time the agent puts you on hold, they are supposed to only leave you on hold for no longer than 2 minutes (it used to be 3 min). After that time they are supposed to pick up the phone again and refresh you as to what is going on. Also a note here is the customer is supposed to put you on hold and not simply mute their phone. This was a common tactic used by agents to dodge the hold timer. If you’re speaking to an agent and they put you on hold and you hear silence and no music. They likely have you on mute and not hold, and additionally they can hear everything your saying at that time, when you’re on hold they cannot hear you.
- Quality (88%): Every Agent is supposed to be graded approximately 2x a week on their calls. This is the metric that most agents hate the most and I will touch more on this later.
- A repair ticket that was dispatched out to the customers location was closed with the notes left “Technician had a gun pulled on him area is unsafe closing ticket”
- 1-888-427-1405 (Business Customers Only) – This is the phone number that we would use to call internal departments. The only real difference from this number and the one provided to the customer is instead of having to talk to the IVR and have it ultimately mess up where you want to go, you are given simple number prompts for where you want to go.
o 1 – Technical Support
o 2 – Billing
o 3 – Used to be sales
o 4- Cancellations/Retention
- The most angry and vulgar customers are the least likely to get helped. When dealing with customer support please try to explain your frustration in a civilized manner, and be persistent if you need to. Just remember swearing and insulting us only gets you put on the back burner.
- Technical Support is open 24/7/365, and they are the only department that is.
5. In order to meet their 15 min handle time, agents have simply transferred the customer back into the queue to talk to another agent and tried to make it look like it was a phone problem.
Agents have just hung up on customer/disconnected their phone, or told the customer that they need to go to another department and then transfer the customer there. It is sad that this happens but unfortunately if you cannot meet your metrics then you will do this.
4. Customer Service Is More Important Than Technical Ability
I was told by someone in management that the mentality was it was far easier to train someone in technical support than customer service. Now my personal view on this is that it is just cheaper/easier for them to hire anyone off the street and give them a month of training on how to follow a script to fix a customer’s problem than hire people with actual technical background. The problem this creates is a barrage of customers whom are fed up with the lack of technical knowledge the support staff has. Verizon did however introduce a solution to this problem; Premium Technical Support.
3. “Premium” Technical Support Means They Had 1 More Week Of Training
Now first off I want to say, Premium Technical Support is an awesome service in the fact that they are not under the same pressure as the normal Level 2 Agents. They do have more technical ability then the level 2 agents; however there are no real requirement for certification to get the position and the training is only a week above the normal technical support.
2. “Quality,” The Department Everyone Hates
The sad fact is, even if you go above and beyond, assist the customer in every way and have an amazing rapport with the customer you can still utterly fail your quality which means you can in turn lose your job if you keep failing. Some of the fun tidbits from quality include the agent must say the customer’s name three times throughout the call. They must review what they have done with the customer, use the “outstanding” verbiage, brand Verizon and they can also ding you for little things like saying “tech” instead of “technical” here. This sadly is where a vast amount of talented technical support agents were lost. They worked great with customers, got issues solved but didn’t do the little things and it ultimately ended their careers working for Verizon.
1. We Must Implant The Word Outstanding In Customer Brain’s To Score Higher On Satisfaction Surveys
This is something I always found hilarious, and I am not even entirely sure if they still do it, but agents are required to mention at the end of the call something along the lines of “I hope I’ve provided you with outstanding service today”, the stress always being on the word Outstanding. Now why is this you ask? Well Verizon contracts out a company to call back customers who have recently called into Technical Support and perform a survey about the service they received. The customer is supposed to rate the service from “poor” to “outstanding”. So basically they want to embed that word in your mind so that you rate them higher.
This is all my personal opinion on my time I spent at Verizon and I hope that it has given you some insight as to what it is like to be on the other side of the phone.