Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Monkey Workforce

‘Kelly - Customer Service Representative’. Her blue badge with neatly embossed white text is pinned proudly to a smart, but perhaps a little Stewardess-like, uniform. Unfortunately, this is where any sort of professionalism ends. At the risk of sounding like I’m fifty…again…I remember when going to the bank meant you were met at the counter by someone who would tend to all your financial needs attentively and quickly. Nowadays it’s more likely to be a spotty faced teen who would look much more at home behind a till at MacDonald’s. More annoying than this is that the little scrote would rather talk to the other undereducated part timer next to her than actually pay attention as she accidentally transfers half your life savings to the account of some Nigerian email scammer she happened to be reading about at the same time.

Computer says no

OK, so I may be getting a little melodramatic, but it just seems to me that the quality of service we have become accustomed to in this country is completely unacceptable. Walk into your average High Street store and you are likely to find it pretty hard to get any detailed information about anything that particular shop is selling. The staff in JJB won’t be able to tell you which tennis racket is the best choice for practice or which trainers are best for running on the street, because they haven’t got a clue themselves! It seems that the staff turnover is so quick in shops these days that they just can’t be bothered to train their staff in anything apart from standing around and looking inattentive.

I personally find it extremely annoying as I have always been someone who has taken the time to get to know about the job they are doing no matter what it is. I have a reasonable knowledge of photocopiers and fax machines, could help you choose a new fan belt for your car, know which items are most high risk to shoplifters and would feel confident working behind any bar in the country. None of these have anything to do with my current profession or have a massive purpose, but at least I learnt something during the many wasted hours of part time and temporary work instead of just bitching about it and not giving a toss!

With the number of companies moving over to purely telephone service on the increase, it would be nice to be able to say that the service received from the telephone centres was better. Unfortunately, if anything, it is worse. The biggest problem I have noticed with telephone centres is that the basic premise of “The customer is always right” is something that does not exist to these people. If you stand in a shop and kick up a fuss then you will be treated respectfully and normally get whatever the problem is resolved pretty quickly. When dealing with call centres however, where there aren’t more customers standing around to see how the company deals with a complaint, you have to employ different tactics in order to get any sort of satisfactory outcome.

Reasons To Hate Call Centres

1) Most telephone call centre staff will be reading from or quoting directly from a pre-prepared script and therefore are unlikely to be able to answer too many complicated questions or give you any useful advice.

2) Listen to the number of times someone working in a call centre uses your name when you are on the phone to them. The repetition of your name is supposed to make your call feel “personalised and wanted” not, as is actually the case, make you feel like a small child or some sort of retard.

3) The blame game – When dealing with a company that has call centres and high street shops / branches the following rules apply
- The branch will always blame the call centre for a mistake
- The call centre will always blame the branch for a mistake
- The call centre is normally to blame

Next time you're faced with a customer services nightmare just remember not to take any crap. The average shop assistant / telephone operator has an IQ of below 100 and that should mean you can get whatever you want out of the large faceless corporation they work for. Giving you whatever pitiful compensation you have asked for isn't going to affect whether Rosie, the six year old daughter of the CEO, gets her pony for Christmas – so why should they care??

Have a pointless and insane argument ready – it leads to confusion and ultimately to success

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