Life In A Call Center

Life In A Call Center


Old School Call Center

Myself and most other frugalites push the idea that “it doesn’t hurt to ask” when dealing with companies.

When asking for a reduced interest rate, a credit on down service, or a policy discount, what is the worse that could happen? They say no? But if they say yes, you get monies!

However, I honestly have never thought of the other side of the phone. I have never thought about the person whose job it is to deal with all of us who are trying to save money.

Well, my friend does just that. She is a customer service representative for a major cable company and did not mind sharing with me some facts about her job that I was not aware of! I want to share them with you so that, while we should continue being frugal, perhaps we could be a little bit less selfish.


Essentially, every representative is given a “report card” for each call they take. Below are the list of items they are “graded” on:

  • Length of call. Calls are supposed to be 8 minutes long. The longer they are, the more this will hurt the employee’s “grade.” Of course, this conflicts with the company’s selling strategy, as it is difficult to trouble shoot a problem and make a sale in only eight minutes.
  • If a customer is credited, the amount of end of year bonus for all employees is reduced. I hate this one. I hate that the employees are being punished for the company’s mistakes. If my cable goes down for 24 hours and I want a credit, why should all the employees be punished for this? Maybe someone can explain this to me.
  • Raising your voice. Okay, agree with this one.
  • Hanging up on a customer. Even if the call is accidentally disconnected, the employee has to call the customer back. Unfortunately, it seems not all company’s have this policy.
  • Selling. An employee can be fired if they do not meet what the company calls an “unspoken quota.” However, the customer reps do earn a commission on each sale.
  • Amount of hold time. From my experience, it seems either not all company’s adhere to this one or employees just do not care.
  • Amount of time between calls. This is their polite way of saying, “amount of calls taken.” If the employee has to update your account once you hang up, this cuts into their phone time.

Honestly, learning all this has opened my eyes. I will still ask to be credited when I deserve it, but perhaps rants about the company really do nothing other than hurt the employee who has to listen and remain polite. I certainly do not want to hurt the person working at a call center all day.

Does learning any of this affect how you will talk to customer service next time?


13 Replies to “Life In A Call Center”

  1. If the year end bonus is determined by company profits, it makes sense that a credit would impact the bonus because it does impact profits.

    I worked in a call centre for a couple years that made reservations. It definitely made me more sympathetic to the person on the other end of the line.

  2. This was a good post — peeling the cover off something that we deal with often, but don’t know anything about!
    Unfortunately, I don’t think that knowing any of this would make me deal any differently with the folks on the phone. I do believe in being courteous (hey, we’re all somebody’s child) and there is no cause to raise your voice, unless the person on the phone takes you there. But it’s not the customer’s fault that the company treats its call center employees like crap. We can’t control that. We can control how we behave toward the people we’re in contact with, but that’s it. That being said, this job sounds worse than I imagined it!

  3. I’ve never worked in a call center, but I did work at McDonald’s in high school. Let me tell you – people turn into the devil when their orders are wrong! I can understand getting upset but 1) these people are sorely underpaid for having a job that SUCKS and 2) the cashier didn’t even make your order. So why yell at them for it?

    That job taught me to be a lot more polite when I talk to ANYONE. Even when I was going through hell with Nine West, I recognized that the individuals I spoke with on the phone were not the ones who caused the problem. If my cable goes out, it’s not Comcast’s rep who caused it to happen, so why be rude to them?

    Plus, I firmly believe that you can get a lot closer to your goal if you remain patient and treat everyone with respect. I definitely wouldn’t call the company’s customer service to rant about the company. If I want to do that, I complain on the blog or on Twitter. Much easier for this conflict-averse gal! :)

  4. I mentioned “ranting about the company” because my friend did mention that customers will say “I know this is not your fault, but I just want to rant about my poor service for a minute” then they go off about the company while she has to quietly listen to them, knowing that the call time is just increasing for reasons out of her control.

  5. I once worked at a call centre. It was pretty lax in terms of all those things, though. Obviously there was sales pressure, but as long as you worked your hours (including one weekend day) you were fine.

  6. I feel sorry for your friend, but also am wondering about whether the company she works for provides better service than others since the goals are clearly outlined. I used to work in PR for a cable company and I did feel bad for the call center employees because nothing that happens is actually their fault – they’re just the consumers’ whipping boy. But, the company I worked for didn’t have these types of guidelines for call management when I was there.

    Thanks for the good reminder to always be courteous, no matter how frustrated we may be. :)

  7. Ahh, I would never rant about a company to one of its employees! Especially not on the phone! What are they going to say? “I’m sorry you feel that way…” It’s not like they’re going to badmouth their employer with you! If I want to talk smack about a company, I’m going to do it with fellow customers, not with their employees. Crazy!

  8. One of my first jobs was as a directory assistance operator at Bell Atlantic. I learned about quota’s and had some very interesting calls. Cranks calls were a constant and what a pain! We had very strict customer service policies and they were always training us on the “close”.

  9. Based on my experience of late I have to say very few companies care about hold time any more. If they do, they certainly have an odd way of showing it!! The credit/employee bonus thing is pure evil!

  10. Ooh! Great to get an “insider’s” perspective on this, never knew about their time limits.

    I think as a CSR you need to practice a lot of patience, I’m sure a lot of customers can be super annoying!

  11. Oh, that’s really fascinating to know! I’ve never worked at a call centre, but I used to work co-ordinating take out and delivery for a large-ish restaurant — people can be incredibly rude on the phone.

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