Disclaimer: This post is purely from my own point of view and does not represent the whole customer service community. This is just how I view things. However, feel free to comment if you feel there are facts that I misrepresented or if you want to share your two cents.
I was a customer service representative for about a year. I may not be an expert in this field but I can share my experiences so that Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) may be understood.
The Hiring Process
Before I graduated in college, I already have a plan that I’ll get a CSR job so that I can earn money easily. I wanted to enjoy life and explore so I thought being a call center agent is the answer. Wrong.
The hiring process was difficult (although it was a 1-day process) due to strict standards imposed by the call center company. You have to pass communication tests, computer literacy, and mock call exams where you were asked to pretend to take a call from the talent acquisition (TA) officer.
If you have fortunately passed all the tests, you are very lucky and talented. But of course, the suffering doesn’t stop there.
First, we had to undergo rigorous training with both effective communication (3 weeks) and product knowledge (another 3 weeks) after which you proceed to the “trainee period”. An agent won’t be able to take calls unless he/she passes the test prepared for both training sets that consists of written tests and both mock and live calls.
Again, if you have fortunately passed all the training sets, you become a trainee. You get to receive calls but is closely monitored by a coach. I still remember my first call. I didn’t know what to say. I panicked and my coach had to spoon-feed the information to me so as keep servicing the customer on the line.
Although after a few calls, I was getting the hang of it. This is where my hell started. Since my voice is a bit small and I am quite new to this, I got overwhelmed by the variety of accents I would encounter in a day. One customer called out my small voice and said I sound like a 12-year-old kid. Another one shouted at me and called me names but one stuck. She called me an idiot. I cried while taking the next call. I didn’t cry because I believed her. I cried because I did not expect to be called names especially if I’m just doing my job. I cannot give her the discount she wanted because our services aren’t free. What customers don’t understand is that we are just doing what we are told to. CSRs can’t just give out free stuff all the time. This is a business and those services comes with a price. Customers are told the fine print of their contracts before they are subscribed to any service.
I just hope these customers would stop saying that they were not informed of certain policies because the calls were recorded and we know that they agreed to the terms and conditions (T&Cs). There might be a few cases where the sales agent failed to provide the T&Cs but those are rare cases. Call centers have a Quality Assurance (QA) department and reps are reprimanded and penalized when they do not provide T&Cs and disclaimers.
Also, some callers would complain about my accent and that they can’t understand me. I understand that completely. However, they do not have the right to insult me by saying, “I need someone who speaks English” because excuse me but I do speak English and FYI there are a lot of accents out there not just your own.
There are also incidents where the customers would yell at me, “That doesn’t make sense!” On the other hand, I don’t believe them. I don’t believe they are stupid enough not to understand what I was telling them. If customers would just try to listen and stop insisting their ridiculous demands, I think they’ll be able to say that whatever I was explaining makes sense but they don’t agree. I would have welcomed their disagreement because we are all entitled to our own opinion.
There are also customers who shop around too much that they are basically asking for the service to be free. In example, the cable service is $19.99. They’ll ask a $10 discount. The previous agent was able to give them the said discount for 3 months. So once the discount expires they think we owe them that discount and the demand us to put it right back. Just because they were able to have it before, doesn’t mean they can have it in their account for the rest of their lives. It’s called a discount for a reason.
We are human too. Do not treat us like idiots because we are just doing our jobs. It is not our fault if the signal gets interrupted (neither is it the company’s fault), no one is at fault. You cannot blame us for technical issues. These machines aren’t perfect. However, we can try our best to provide you with the best solution we can find. Here’s a tip, if you want to be treated well, do the same thing to us. It is not that we’ll be rude to you, we just want you to remember we have feeling too. We get upset too. We get tired too. We don’t have to care if you got laid off, but we do try to find ways to help you because you are workers too, like us. We know how you feel, we also got laid off at some point in our lives. Customers are not always right. You have to listen too and cooperate so that we can find the best solution to your service-related problems. This way, we can get back to our own lives without delay.
Also, asking for our supervisors doesn’t always work, especially if you know what you are asking for is really ridiculous. It just irritates us especially if we know our supervisors will just tell you the same information we did. No, you cannot ask for the CEO/President of the company just because of $5 bill dispute. You know that right? Discounts expire. Don’t tell me you didn’t know that.
Stop asking us why your services are cutoff especially if you know you haven’t paid your bill in months. We do not have to remind you to pay your bills. Do your share. It wasn’t our fault if you can’t afford the services, you knew from the very start that you need to have a budget for that service.
Lastly, even if you are a doctor, a pastor, a professor, a lawyer, an elder, or someone living with your pension or on disability, you do not have the right to insult anyone. We are all adults and we all have our share of life’s bull. CSRs have them too. Don’t blames us for everything and remember your role as a customer. I’m really glad I have already resigned from that job. Providing quality customer service didn’t mean “quality customer service” anymore. Customers think that meant “customers-get-what-they-want-service”. It doesn’t. Of course, you already know that, you just didn’t care.
A former CSR