Confessions of a Customer Service Representative

I hate you.
So, like, I have one of those non-jobs right now which make me wanna take up smoking Virginia Slims again (don't judge).  I haven't had a non-job like this since, oh...2005, and now that I'm back in one, there are a few things I want to get off my chest.

Now, those of you who've worked in customer service before already know this shit.  Those of you who have firmly remained on the other side of the fence, however, might want to listen up and pay attention.

Confession #1: I hate you

From the moment your case/account/ticket/whatever comes to my attention, my first question to myself is, "Okay...how do I get rid of this person?"  And thus begins the strategizing.  Mind you, when a CSR is forming a strategy to get rid of a customer, what the customer thinks, feels, or wants is never a factor.  Tell me your story until you're blue in the face - it won't matter.  You are the enemy.  You interrupted my daydreams of Henry Grubstick (*fans*).  You're the reason I can't finish my illegal bag of peanut M & M's stashed in the side pocket of my purse.

You are evil and you need to be destroyed.

No, really.
Confession #2: I'm grateful for the check, not the job (and even then, only marginally so)

For those of you who've never been sentenced to a few months as a CSR, 1) fuck you, and 2) let me tell you how it works.

First of all, you get hired in about 5 minutes flat.  Everyone - your recruiter, your trainer, the people from that regional bank no one's ever heard of, and the lady from the local not-quite-a-community college who swears she can create a "future" for you - all insist you've made the right choice to begin this job.  They tell you your "future" begins now.  They assure you you're "going places."  They talk about how they've been with the company for years and years.  They talk about how it's the bestest place in the whole wide world.

This, of course, occurs during a hiring drive.  Shortly after you get hired (along with a horde of other people who have Absolutely Nothing in common with another), there's suddenly a hiring freeze.  Your trainer, who sang lengthy praises about the company, who's on salary and who basically shows up whenever, learns they're about to be demoted because there won't be any new people to train.  Already a few other trainers have been canned for some random reason or other.  So your trainer, faced with either returning to the plantation with the other CSR folk or being unemployed during a recession...willingly chooses to be unemployed during a recession.

Mm-hm.  *nods*

Confession #3: They pay me (barely) enough to listen, but not enough to actually do anything about your situation

Here's another thing about companies which specialize in customer service.  They're #1 goal is to keep employee salaries costs down.  Which means paying hourly and finding every possible excuse to send people home or deny them overtime.  And if they stumble across something which really gets their employees paid, there's suddenly a "policy change" which always hacks a good chunk of those paychecks.

So CSRs have a tendency to let the punishment fit the crime.  If we get paid bare minimum, we will do bare minimum.

Confession #4: That's not my real name

You think I want this coming back to haunt me while I try to get a real job?  No, I'm not telling you my full name.  Let's just call me "Pygmy".  Working in customer service is like stripping; we've all had to do it at some point, and it's not something we're proud of.

Any other current or former CSRs at the bar tonight?  Share....

Comments

  1. I was ALMOST hired into customer service. Almost, until I flunked the 'business' math test. I never thought I'd be happy to be a colossal dunce with numbers, but there you go.

    Sounds like I dodged one helluva bullet. O_O

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  2. Girl...you don't even know.

    I mean, it pays the bills & e'rythang, but if you don't have a roommate, then it just about pays the bills.

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  3. Yup, got one of those non-jobs too, icky office work with a very low wage and absolutely no benefits. I also drive 180 miles a week to get this job because I live in a rural area.

    So I just love this post! I love your list of confessions and I can totally relate. For confession #1, when I get a phone call I try to get people off the phone in the shortest time possible. Sometimes it is 10 seconds, haha! I do the job but generally I don't make extra time or go the extra mile to please people. For #2, same, just grateful for the money. For #3, I am also paid a very low wage. So I do the bare minimum. Sure I will be respectful and cordial but I am not going to extra mile for you when I make just above the poverty level. Folks also need to understand that when we are working at or just slightly above the poverty level being nice is hard for us. We can't be happy go lucky pollyanna types. We do what we can to survive and get by. When things don't go your way it is hard to be nice. The privileged folk need to open their eyes. For #4, sometimes people will ask my name when I answer a call and I just say the name of the department. I don't feel like giving out my name sometimes, haha!

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  4. when I get a phone call I try to get people off the phone in the shortest time possible.

    I know, right???? And some of these people really want to talk to you!

    sometimes people will ask my name when I answer a call and I just say the name of the department.

    I need to see if I can get away with that.

    Folks also need to understand that when we are working at or just slightly above the poverty level being nice is hard for us.

    FOR REAL. When these people tell me their problems, all I can think is, "...That's it?"

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  5. "Any other current or former CSRs at the bar tonight? Share...."

    Challenge accepted.

    In addition to working in retail stores, I've worked in call centers which even by CSR standards is a special level of hell. Much like the internet, people suddenly find themselves with a lot of courage and want to get buck on the damn phones.

    1. The jobs set unrealistic goals.

    You're expected to meet impossible stats which often contradict each other. Low handle time but you're supposed to do XYZ that results in long handle time. If you don't meet the goals, your job could be threatened.

    2. You get set up to fail.

    If you manage to reduce the call volume and you're efficient enough to aid the customers, the managers will channel more calls to your department, allow people to go home, spike call volume to where there's 40-50 calls in queue, make you work nonstop back-to-back calls rather than giving you breathing room (2-3 minutes) between calls.

    It's also not uncommon to get penalized for following the very procedures they set up.

    Prime example. I had a call one time where a customer was asking about a refund on their bill. The procedures clearly stated that my job is to take ownership of my calls and provide first call resolution so if it's anything I can do to resolve the matter, take the initiative and fix it. I checked the customer's bill and the records and sure enough they had a legit claim. Seeing as I had authorization to process a refund, I did exactly that. The customer was happy and I was happy to help the customer. She was one of those good customers who was a pleasure to serve and that was that.

    I found out later that I got penalized for that call. I was told that even though I followed the procedures, because the department is trying to cut costs, I should've bounced that customer to another department to keep our department from spending money on someone's else's mistake.

    When I pointed out that this is a catch 22 because if I had done that I would've been penalized for NOT helping the customer and not taking ownership, they basically hemmed and hawwed and I was told that's just one of those unfortunate situations.

    And they wonder why I quit that bitch and didn't look back.

    3. The people setting up the policies for call centers don't actually take any of the calls or have any clue what the procedures are but act like the experts just the same.

    Most of the managers have no clue about how to handle the process of the plantation and yet they are instilling policies that do more harm than good.

    4. They are the definition of insanity.

    At one job, the department is trying to meet this company score by following a certain process. The process is flawed and broken. The managers have admitted to it. Yet they refuse to change it and wonder why they aren't reaching their score. When we repeatedly tell them that the process needs to be fixed and corrected, they ignore us.

    They want to keep making the same mistakes (or as we say in the South, be stuck on stupid) and expect a different result.

    5. Customers, (especially white folks) we don't give a fuck about your fee fees.

    Too often I'll get a white customer on the line who is upset and they have this level of unrealistic entitlement.

    Example:

    "I'm the customer and I'm not happy with this level of customer service."

    "The customer is always right."

    "It's the company's job to make the customer happy."

    "I'm not happy right now."

    It's all I can do not to bust out laughing in their face or replying with:

    "I do apologize for the inconvenience but it seems what we have here sir is a case of mistaken identity, because you clearly have me mistaken for someone who gives a fuck."

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  6. I've worked in call centers which even by CSR standards is a special level of hell.

    *nods* The special hell.

    Much like the internet, people suddenly find themselves with a lot of courage and want to get buck on the damn phones.

    Ohhhhhhhhhh yeah.

    You're expected to meet impossible stats which often contradict each other. Low handle time but you're supposed to do XYZ that results in long handle time.

    OMG - I know, right? I have a feeling they like constantly training people. Keeps the cost low 'cause they're paying shit wages, both here and abroad.

    Too often I'll get a white customer on the line who is upset and they have this level of unrealistic entitlement.

    *dies* This is particularly hilarious when you work for a multi-billion dollar company which has no shortage of customers - current or potential - and you get this random white person acting as though they actually have the power to do something.

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  7. Now I am REALLY thanking my God that I was born a maths dimwit. Gyatdamn!

    I propose that those pyramid scheme fat-cats be sentenced to work 18-hour days as CSRs, for the entire duration of their sentence. Including weekends.

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  8. Funny you should mention "pyramid." At customer service companies, there are always these upside-down pyramids with the CSRs being on top.

    As if.

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  9. This is why I make it a real point to be very nice to CSRs wherever I go. I know it's their job, and I know it sucks, so I try to be as small a burden on them as possible.

    And I thank them for their help regardless of whether it really helped or not.

    I believe that a really big problem with these types of jobs is that people assume that what you get paid to do is who you really are. People see someone working a low-wage, low-skill job then assume that you're stupid and worthless.

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  10. This was a very good post. Very helpful information to know!!! And like Leoprincess I am happy that I did not pass that test to work as a GM Customer Service Rep.

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  11. Been there. Worked for Equifax, QuikTrip, Food Services, and an insurance company, and quit all those bad boys within months. I just do not do well as a CSR.

    Don't think you can talk to me any way you want and then threaten to tell my manager when I politely break my foot off in your ass. Long as you spell my name right, you can tell whoever you want whatever the hell you please...cause that job AIN'T my life.

    Fuck them motherfuckers. Glad I'm out of that shit.

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  12. No doubt that times are very hard,but when it comes to customer service,my mind about it never changed: Didn't want it then and in spite of the down economy, I still DON'T want it.

    At one point, I thought about working for The IRS as a CSR. Any job can be hectic,but I hear that the IRS is very stressful. You also have nutcases wanting to destroy that and other government facilities. Yeah they pay well,but all of that stress isn't worth it...even in these trying times.

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  13. Retail blows chunks. You are telling my story right now. Everything you're saying I not only cosign but have thought at times. Especially when a customer's problem is caused by their own laziness/lack of common ass sense.

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  14. I think dealing with the public is hell. CSR's, office work, public work at local governments (city/county) is a hella challenging. People want to hold it above your head and say, "damn you minion, you are a public servant, you are serving ME, ME, ME!" If you don't serve them the way they want then they complain. They don't realize that event so called cushy government jobs, aren't really cushy. Some folks ain't got no benefits what-so-ever.

    I too make it an effort when speaking to CSR's to be extra nice.

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  15. "So CSRs have a tendency to let the punishment fit the crime. If we get paid bare minimum, we will do bare minimum."<< preach! This made me lmao and and feel even less bad about reading and commenting while im logged in at my CSR job booking hotel reservations

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  16. The people setting up the policies for call centers don't actually take any of the calls or have any clue what the procedures are but act like the experts just the same.

    Here's what kills me: Human Nature 101 in the 21st Century. We all live by the same basic mentality: 1) dealing with a human is a last resort, and 2) give me what I want ASAP and get out of my face.

    You don't really need CSR experience to figure that one out.

    Especially when a customer's problem is caused by their own laziness/lack of common ass sense.

    And then when they realize just how stupid they are, they get mad at you.

    I think dealing with the public is hell.

    That pretty much sums it up nicely.

    This made me lmao and and feel even less bad about reading and commenting while im logged in at my CSR job booking hotel reservations

    Lucky. At my job, EVERYTHING is blocked off.

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  17. All I can say is "Damn, and I thought working with little kids was hellish enough."

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  18. Guys you should check out Rainonmebi's video about this same shit. I love it. Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/CSRHell

    I could probably write a whole book about my experiences working in CSR. I will have to come back and post one of my recent experiences. Which lead to me being unemployed for the past four weeks.

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  19. Post away.

    The most ironic part of the job for Moi, I feel, is that the less the customer talks, the better (and faster) things go.

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  20. I work in medical insurance and deal only with medical providers and members. My CSR job is special, its unionized so its not quite as hellish,the pay is good and we have guaranteed full-time hours. That said many of these things still apply and I'll add a few.


    1) They pay us enough to care, they really do, but 'um after about three minutes we still start to hate you.

    2) No one wants to talk to you on the phone any longer than necessary so:

    -If I ask you a question then answer it damn it! Don't cop a 'tude, don't repeat the question, and don't ask why I need to know. I don't ask you for anything extra, I'm not interested in prolonging this call nor am I interested in your life. Answer the fucking question.

    -It takes me longer to tell you why I can't do something and argue with you back and forth about why I can 't do than to just do what you want. So if I say no damn it, it means no because once again none of us wants to prolong the call.


    3) I'm not stupid do not spell things for me if I haven't asked you to. I know how to spell "Garcia, Jose, Juan and Irma". If you live in America and you don't know how to spell common Hispanic names I can only assume you are a racist.

    4) Don't give me information I haven't asked you for. Most CSR jobs are highly structured answering unasked questions will usually only led to me asking you to repeat the information, and therefore prolonging the call.

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  21. If I ask you a question then answer it damn it! Don't cop a 'tude, don't repeat the question, and don't ask why I need to know. I don't ask you for anything extra, I'm not interested in prolonging this call nor am I interested in your life. Answer the fucking question.

    THANK YOU.

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  22. My bff, who worked as a CSR for years used to tell me that whenever a customer demanded to speak to her supervisor,she NEVER argued and connected to her supervisor immediately. She wasn't about to argue with an irate customer, and apparently most of the time, the customer expected her to resolve the issue and argue with them.

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  23. I used to really enjoy retail customer service cuz I like helping people. The vast majority are great but you always get the entitled snobs. Ugh I worked at Target Day After Christmas in CSR. This woman copped a 'tude and stormed off because she felt she was entitled to an exchange that she wasn't charged for. I told her that since her pair of underwear was never rung up, she was never charged and thus not entitled for a refund or to get another larger size free. Yet the hussy still managed to walk away in a huff.
    The straw that broke the camel's back was this man cutting in front of everyone and demanding that I help his return because the previous CSR went on her break and I told him he needed to get back in line. He had the nerve to come back and told me I was disrespectful and to speak to my manager and get my name. I may have had a small 'tude in that I was forceful in telling him "I am not indulging your haughty bullshit. Get your ass to the back of the 20 person deep line" I gladly gave up my name and called the manager over and went the fuck home after a 7 am to 3:30 pm shift. I told him he could sit on it and spin. And that manager can talk to me if she likes but THIS is the reason why I'm going to school to be an engineer. People work my damn nerves.

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  24. I worked for Verizon wireless. Company screws their CSRs, under-pays them and tells them how valuable they are..amazing the number of thing people buying it.

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