I seriously doubt actual call center employees ever really look this happy...
So I’m some months into my first working experience in the inbound call center world -albeit working from home.
While trying to answer random callers’ questions about obtaining government loans and grants is certainly not a role to which I’ve ever aspired, in our present circumstances, I’m truly thankful for the work, and it can be rewarding on those occasions when I genuinely feel as if I’ve helped someone.
However, I quickly discovered that this gig can be majorly frustrating as well.
Beyond being cursed out by callers, dealing with likely fraudsters, IT issues and the like, it’s actually the rules of the call center world itself that I find the most trying.
The greatest of those frustrations centers on the fact that what I consider trying my best to help people and what those who evaluate us consider a top effort aren’t likely to be the same thing. I certainly understand that they need metrics of some sort, and that perceived efficiency (i.e. the highest possible number of short calls) is chief among those. Where that model seems to fall short, however, is primarily measuring what we do with a counter and a timer. We’re under considerable pressure to complete as many calls as possible, as quickly as possible, and to also make our mandatory after-call notes in less than 60 seconds in order to be available for the next call. While there’s admittedly some necessity to handling calls and post-call work efficiently, it seems to me the number one goal in anything labeled ‘customer service’ should be exactly that - and that’s not something best measured with a stop watch and a calculator.
Actually helping a caller reminds me more of my time as an EMT, where I found that patience and empathy often proved at least as important as vitals and drugs. Something the nature of a government loan is complicated enough for me, even with specialized training. It has to be very daunting indeed for many of the callers with whom I speak. On top of that, we’re at the mercy of: Folks with a poor command of the English language, poor-quality connections (Pro Tip: Calling about an important financial matter from your noisy car on speaker phone is not in your best interests…), ill-prepared callers who spend the first few minutes just fumbling for their application number or other basic information, or callers who seem to be spoiling for a fight right from the word ‘Hello.’ Those are all things that lengthen calls which we can do little or nothing about.
Evaluators do occasionally listen in on calls, and occasionally callers provide their own positive or negative feedback, but the vast majority of the time, it’s just about time on the line, regardless of what actually transpired on any given call.
Nothing to be done about it, really. Nature of the beast. It’s also quite possible that more savvy and experienced call-takers view things differently. I’m just a newbie calling it as I see it so far.
End of rant. Thanks for calling…err, listening.