Working under duress, or being something I'm not  

kitchenfun1234 44M
2103 posts
9/8/2006 1:46 pm

Last Read:
6/7/2008 10:34 pm

Working under duress, or being something I'm not

i was listening to an interesting radio program on radio 4 last night. It was all about what people do when they approach retirement age. Traditionally 60 or 65yrs of age. Once the mature folk would simply retire and stop working for a living. Now they are often forced to work on until the grave. Some like it. Others pause at retirement and realise that a new career might be an option. A career where they can be more true to their real self and less like "Company man". Company man does what he is told, says and does things that are at odds with his nature. He does all this for a wage.
I wonder if I will ever find a job that I am truly happy with.

At the moment the bosses that I work for a attempting to negotiate an unreasonable working target with staff via the union.
They want call centre staff to manage their conversations with the customers, (Inbound calls mind, the customers call us.), so that the average call lasts just a little over 5 minutes.

I'm glad I've never seen this in other jobs. I hope the union can stop this being introduced.

We can't provide good customer service with a time limit. People ask questions, lose information, talk slowly etc. What it means is that we are forced to be rude, not answer questions fully and look for other ways to reduce our average call time.
What makes this really mad is that management are not fighting to reduce the number of people on hold waiting for an advisor. A fully answered call could last 10-15 minutes and saves the customer calling back

Don't ever give up searching for the fun in life.

1586 posts
9/8/2006 2:50 pm

I can't remember where, but think I read that every working adult can expect to change their careers an average of five times.

What you said about customer service with a time limit really hit home for me. I actually got in trouble for spending too much time on a call. It didn't matter that an irate customer became a happy one by the time I was finished talking to him. The Powers That Be were just annoyed that I could have taken another five calls during the time that I'd spent with the one customer!

Can't win for losing, huh?

Great post, by the way.

Good luck on your quest toward finding your dream job. I'm still looking myself. LOL

kitchenfun1234 replies on 9/8/2006 5:54 pm:
What managers often fail to realise, is that there is no such thing as the perfect call. A good call takes as long as it takes.
It takes a long time to build a good relationship with customers, and just seconds of bad judgement to ruin it all.

Good for you for taking the time with your customers.

Ana_6973 43F

9/8/2006 3:41 pm

I used to work MCI Business Customer Service, inbound only. We were to have an average call time of five minutes or less, sell them new options and get them off the phone. This is true of most customer service centers in the US. What has never made sense to me is how can you offer customer service when your real goal is to get them to buy a new service. I hated it.

I'm surprised you haven't already had a time limit. I believe Yellow Book here in the US is owned by a British company and a friend of mine worked for them in Iowa. They had all sorts of goals and time limits on their customer service reps.

I love my job. I don't know that it is my dream job, but I do enjoy coming to work everyday. I get to have interesting conversations with customers, talk about sex, and find out all sorts of interesting things. It's awesome.

Good Luck! You never know, it could be something just under your nose.


~~"I can scream as loud as your last one, but I can't claim innocence."~~

kitchenfun1234 replies on 9/8/2006 5:42 pm:
Yellow book.....ah yes, known as Yellow Pages in the UK.
Yes they have time targets and I'm told they are stressful to work for. However they offer useful numbers fast. That is their business.
In other places such as banks, telecoms companies and utilities there are sensible limits. Average call should be no more than 15 minutes. If selling is involved it pays to take the time to build rapport, gather all the information and sell the perfect product. Result is the perfect sale with less chance of a complaint.

cuteNEway 41F

9/9/2006 12:47 am

I've given up on finding the perfect job. I'm not 20 something anymore. It isn't cute anymore.

As for the average handle time...the cell phone company I used to work for had our goal at 4 min 16 sec plus we had to meet a quality score of at least 92 percent and the IMPOSSIBLE to meet "c-sat" customer satisfaction survey.

These people were never happy no matter what.

I hate customer service.

kitchenfun1234 replies on 9/9/2006 4:39 am:
4 min and 16 seconds.....? This is where statistics start to become a pain in the backside. They look at the length of all the calls received....including the really short ones that get cut short for any number of reasons. Ignore all the tricky long ones with customers threatening to take their complaint to the tabloid press. They add the total call time up and divide it by the total number of calls to get a stupidly low time. This time is just a way of reducing labour costs because even the top performing staff will be unable to meet their targets and qualify for a raise.

customer satisfaction surveys should be banned. want to know how happy the customers are?? just look at the sales figures. want to know how the company could improve? look at the sales figures of the competition and ask them what they're doing.

cuteNEway 41F

9/9/2006 6:51 am

kitchen...even better than that, my average handle time was 3:16 with 87% quality and the only reason that my quality was low was because I refused to do the stupid upselling.

csat, no one got good csat.

kitchenfun1234 replies on 9/9/2006 8:53 am:
Yep it's amazing how quick calls can be if we don't have to bother the customers with rubbish they don't want.

I like you're style. I refuse to upsell and I also prefer to avoid inflicting customer satisfaction surveys on customers. unfortunately my attitude would have gotten me fired at the bank I worked at....I quit before they could do it.

rm_txrose4uNTX 57F
3289 posts
9/9/2006 3:13 pm

Oh, Ana_6973, I have also worked at MCI when "equal access" was a new thing. They had the nerve of telling me, after coming to Texas from NYC, that I had too much of a Texan accent. I just looked at them really funny and asked them, "On what ground are you standing? Which people are we calling -- NY or Texas?" They couldn't respond...

That being said. I have had my share with customer service roles -- both as the giver and receiver. Currently working a hotline, some calls can be answered in about 5 minutes or less, but there is a time that you must give the customer the extra moments deserved. I have been known to be on the phone with a customer for 45mins to an hour, but that was a very satisfied customer indeed in the end. I don't take that long with every customer...but, in rare instances, it is very warranted.

Had an encounter with a company that offered very little customer service which send me flying to the world's end when they accoused ME of running a scam. I sent a certified letter to the attorney's office of that corporation and one to the store's location. I told them that I have a recorded voice mail of that accuasation and was prepared to file creditor harrassment. They called me in a few days and settled up, which cost them in the end more than they would have if they would have been nice and offered their customer service correctly in the first place and took the time to explain versus falsly accusing their customer!!!

Auugghghgh. As much as I hate unions (long story of harrassment they did to me as a temporary at a telecom), it looks like they are very much needed in this instance. Good luck with your quest!!


kitchenfun1234 replies on 9/9/2006 4:20 pm:
Ohhhh, don't get me started on the subject of accents.......
When I worked for the bank I learnt that when they trained the staff in the Mumbai call centre, the bank deliberately used trainers who had strong infectious accents. ie broad Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Liverpudlian, Brummie and Black Country.
The staff were probably initially easy to understand with their English spoken with a Mumbai accent. After the staff had developed the local accent on top of their own they became harder to understand.

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