Monday, 6 September 2010

Your Call Is Important To Us

Info from the English WP http://en.wikipedia.o...Image via WikipediaGreeting the Caller
When answering the phone, say ‘Hello’. When the caller says ‘Hello’ back, keep saying hello until the caller becomes angry. Alternatively, give your name and ask in a bright, sparky voice, ‘Is there anything I can do for you today after you tell me your inside leg measurement?’

If you can, pronounce your name oddly so that the caller has to ask for it several times. Ideally, change your name to TikkiPikkapukka.

Time on Hold
If the caller has been on hold for a significant time, it is likely that he or she will have been forced to listen to distorted music, several advertisements for your organisation's brilliant customer service award track record and several repetitions of ‘Your call is important to us but we’re busy helping other customers.’ It is likely that the customer will be angry or at the least mildly irritated at this stage, so don’t forget to place them back on hold. Ideally, pick a line that doesn’t have music on hold but that does have a strange echo on it, something like an ultrasound recording played backwards or a slowed down recording of the Doppler effect from a pea being shot through a wind tunnel.

If the caller asks you to call them back, assure them that you will and forget to take their number.

Asking For Security Information
Make sure you always ask for the customer’s security information even if the call is a routine request for something like your branch opening hours. Be particularly sure to ask for this information if your call system has already asked the customer to key in his or her PIN number, unique caller number, Memorable Information and Call Repeating Access Password number in order to get put on hold for twenty minutes to talk to you.

If your call centre has initiated the call, don’t forget to fail to identify yourself properly and then go straight into asking a range of insane security questions. If the customer answers these, don’t forget to end the call with a warning about identity theft.

Putting the Caller on Hold
Never, ever tell the customer you are about to put them on hold. Just drop the line and leave them in limbo to stew for a while. Ideally, have a colleague pick up the line and insist on going through the whole process again. If you put a caller through this until every seat in the call centre has talked to him/her and have the recordings kept for training purposes to prove it, you could be eligible for a Callie – the global call centre awards. The link to the application form is here.

Keep the Caller Informed
If it is taking a huge amount of time to dig into the customer’s records or get a line to the department that has the answers, don’t forget to sigh a lot and make plentiful tapping noises on your keyboard. You can save the risk of RSI or chipped nail polish by making a recording of this sound on a cheap Dictaphone and just replaying it. Then ask the customer if he/she is there, say ‘Just one minute’ and transfer the line to the night service message. If your call centre is 24/7, transfer the call to the ‘Sorry, extension 43 is not available. Please leave a message.’ This should then route through to ‘This mailbox is full, please try later.’

Never Guess the Answer
If you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question, don’t guess the answer, just lie. Say anything that comes into your head. Some good holding lines are: ‘That’s against our policies’, ‘My manager has said I can’t do that’, ‘The system is down’ and ‘That department has been disbanded.’ A great all-purpose lie is, ‘Yes, that’s finished now. The thing you want is in the post and will be with you within two working days.’

Always Keep the Promise to Call Back
When you are forced to promise to call the customer back, always ensure that there is, indeed, a subsequent call. Route the call request through to another department, security is always a good one, or a totally unrelated department in another continent is always good to place a call back to the customer.

How to Deal With an Angry Caller
If a caller becomes angry, repeat the thing that has made them angry in a slow voice. It is important at this stage to tell the customer that you are trying to help them. Continue speaking slowly and say ‘I’m sorry’ as frequently as normal grammatical usage will allow. A good phrase to use here is: ‘There is nothing you can do. It’s just the way things are.’

Passing the Caller On
If the caller asks to speak with someone more senior, block this request at all costs in case it might get you into trouble. At first, always try telling them that the manager will just tell them the same thing. If they are insistent, you can point blank refuse, say that it’s not possible or put them on hold in the Doppler pea chamber.

Never End the Call if the Customer Wishes to Continue
It is important never to hang up on a customer, even if they have been tried to the point of insanity and are having a major coronary incident. That is what the Doppler pea chamber is for. However, it is vitally important that you have the last word in every call, so don’t forget to ask ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ It is, of course vitally important to do this when you have been totally unable to help the customer. If you have been able to help the customer, you may need to apply for retraining.

Keeping Customers Happy
If your employer wanted customers to be happy, they’d hardly outsource their most important relationships to a bunch of disempowered dunderheads in a room who don’t have the authority to crap without a triplicate form let alone actually do anything that a customer would actually want. The words Your Call is Important To Us are actually a sophisticated code that translates to ‘We don’t care about you’ and the more aware of this you are as a call centre operator, the better it will be for all of us.

Happy customers are a myth. They’re all whingeing time wasters and it’s your job to make sure they know they haven’t a hope in hell of getting anywhere. After all, if customers started to dictate what the company did, what kind of world would it be?

(The inspiration for this was colleague Alec Harden - @alecharden - who bowled into the office this morning screaming at Skywards. Skwards won, but then that's what call centres always do in the end, isn't it? So This article, "Ten Golden Rules for Call Centre Operators", subsequently had me in helpless stitches of hooting laughter and demanded parodying.)
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8 comments:

Alec said...

Putting the phone down on me after telling me that management don't take calls was a good way of starting my day with blood at over 100 degrees... It's not over until the portly lad yodels

Steve Rogerson said...

Hi, I wrote the original article and I love your parody. Helped me start the day with a smile.

EyeOnDubai said...

Currently on hold to etish#te. Your post is extremely aposite!

Susan said...

Gave up on calling Etish*te - went in to see them and they are just a bloody useless in real life!

By some improbable miracle they managed to fix the problem and then told me I never had a problem in the first place - it was all a figment of my imagination - like I talk to these guys for fun?????????

Who invented call centres anyway? I hope they realise that karma's a b*tch!!

Anonymous said...

I've called Mashreq 12 times in the last three weeks and my personal favourite is the Wackford Squeers impression which is done in the last five seconds of the call: after failing miserably at even remotely addressing your problem, they sign off with a quavering "is there anything else we can help you with today"

Oy

Anonymous said...

my little senior's moment, sorry - it isn't Wackford Squeers, it's Uriah Heep.

Slightly related on their father's side.

alexander... said...

Thanks, Steve! That's a remarkably gracious response to having all your well-meant advice reversed! :)

Susan said...

My favoutire one ever was ADCB taking you all round the "press 1 for **, press 2 for &&" for about 10 levels and then ending with "Thank you for calling ADCB, our number has been changed" click. I had to ring it back three times to believe it!

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