People Tend To Get More Ballsy Over The Phone
Working at a call center is no walk in the park. It might seem less stressful compared to other customer service jobs, because of the lack of face-to-face interaction with rude and obnoxious customers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Have you ever realized when people get the chance to hide behind something, either a computer, a phone, or a car, they tend to get more ballsy than they are in real life? For instance, online bullying and road rage. It creates an environment that makes people comfortable doing things they normally wouldn’t do in a public setting, and in this case, customers being just as disrespectful to employees over the phone as in person. Might not be a public freak out, but callers will not hold back until they get what they want.
Former customer service representative, “Gretchen” can concur. She had worked in a call center for a popular mobile company for many years, dealing with all kinds of customer calls, especially the ones that start off with “I want to speak with your manager now.”
Those might be the magic words at other places, but at jobs where employees can’t physically identify the customer, there’s more to it. No matter how much they persist in speaking with a manager, customer service reps must first identify the customer, for the sake of security. Many companies have this type of procedure, so Gretchen was a bit flabbergasted when a fellow colleague had a problem with it. A person who was supposed to understand and follow the procedure, however only escalated it to an issue.
The day started off like any other day for Gretchen until she received an unusual call from a fellow colleague. By just the tone of his voice, it was obvious he was a bit agitated.
He said, “Hello! I’m from the security cameras department. I have a customer on the line that wants to speak directly with a supervisor. Nothing against you, but the customer is insisting on speaking directly with a supervisor and not with a customer representative. Can you help me?”
Gretchen: “Well, for normal procedures, we usually need to get in touch with the customer first because we need to verify a few things. But let me see what I can do.”
Him: “Sure, it’s just that the customer wants to speak with someone because they’ve been having an ongoing issue. They have been hung up on multiple times, including with supervisors.”
Something didn’t seem right there. Since when did supervisors hang up on calls? But at that moment, that wasn’t her main concern, she needed to know if there was any possible way for her to connect a transferred customer to a supervisor directly. She messaged her support team for an answer, to which everyone said no and that she needed to follow through with checking the customer’s information before she got a supervisor involved on the call. It was policy.
Gretchen went back on the call and relayed the message to the guy, who quickly became persistent.
Him: “Please, can you please just connect me with a supervisor directly? The customer is already upset and wants to talk to a superior only.”
Gretchen: “Yeah, I understand, but because of policies the customer needs to talk with us first because we need to check some information. There is no way for us to connect someone immediately with a supervisor because we need to check things first on our side. I’m sorry, but if it’s ok, I can take the call.”
Now to anyone who has ever worked in any type of customer service, when someone else is willing to take over handling an angry customer, there shouldn’t be any hesitation. But for some reason, this guy had a huge problem with it. His once nervous tone quickly turned into frustration.
With just a click of a button, this “angry” customer could easily become Gretchen’s headache, versus his, however, it wasn’t all that simple. I mean it was, but this guy was just making things unnecessarily complicated
Guy: “Well I’m not going to connect the customer with you. He’s angry enough and I won’t make him angrier.”
As if he was the one that would be taking the bullet. It would be all on Gretchen and probably her supervisor.
Gretchen: “I’m sorry but because of policies we can’t do that. As I said, if you connect me with the customer, I can get everything straightened up and I can connect him with a supervisor.”
Him: “NO! I need the customer to speak with a supervisor. Connect me with a supervisor now!”
At this point, Gretchen lost her patience with him. She already explained multiple times that she couldn’t transfer him or the customer to her supervisor directly due to policies. What part didn’t he get?
Gretchen: “OK, sorry if I sound rude, but no. We cannot connect the customer with a supervisor first. He needs to talk to us, so we verify because otherwise, the transfer is invalid. Connect me with him, and I’ll handle it from here.”
Him: “I’m from the security cameras department, I just need a supervisor from the mobile side because of the customer’s issue! I won’t make the customer angrier than he already is!”
Not sure why he repeated he was from the security cameras department, it wasn’t like he had a higher authority to disobey the rules. He was like the rest of the customer service reps, but just from a different department. And due to his position, you would think he would be more understanding of the importance of security and the consequences Gretchen could face if she broke protocol.
Gretchen: “Well I’m sorry but I can’t do it. Because of procedures, we can’t do it. Connect him with me or I won’t do anything from here.”
Perfect, Gretchen thought. Problem solved, she’d be able to follow through with the verification process and hopefully, resolve the customer’s issue. However, as she was waiting for the guy to merge the customer into the call, he then demanded yet another ridiculous request that got her fuming.
A ‘Karen’ Move
Any hope Gretchen had about the call coming to an end was abruptly interrupted by the guy pulling a typical Karen move.
Guy: “Give me your name and your employee ID, I’m gonna check on something later.”
Gretchen: “Gimme a second.”
Needing to take a breather as her blood was boiling over this guy’s refusal to let her speak to the customer and now asking for her employee ID as if she was in the wrong. While he was on hold, Gretchen decided to reach out to one of her co-workers for advice.
She messaged, “Guy from security cameras department now wants my employee ID, what should I do?”
Her coworker wrote back, “Ask for his name and employee ID as well. You can report him as well for invalid transferring. Also, ask the reason why the customer needs to be transferred and why the issue needs to be escalated to a supervisor.”
That was the exact answer she was looking for. Now assured what her next steps would be, she no longer was going to tolerate this guy’s unprofessionalism. So she hopped back on the phone and asked about the customer’s issue.
Him: “I told you already.”
Honestly, he might’ve been telling the truth. With the constant back and forth, she might’ve forgotten what he said at the beginning of the call or possibly, didn’t hear him say the reason. So to avoid another dispute, she asked him politely to reiterate the customer’s complaint.
Him: “The customer is being charged for a phone he no longer has.”
Gretchen: “Ok, I see. Still, in this case, I would need to talk with him first.”
Since it was a specific account concern, there was no exception, she needed to verify the caller’s identity. Then from there, she and the supervisor could speak freely about his account/ issue.
Him: “And I said I wouldn’t do it. Tell me your name and your ID now, because I’m gonna file a complaint about you not taking the call.”
Gretchen: “Ok fine, but only if you give me YOUR name and ID first. If you’re gonna complain of me, I can do the same as well.”
At that moment, he realized getting his way was going to be a bit more challenging than he thought. Gretchen wasn’t backing down.
The guy thought he could intimidate Gretchen by claiming to file a complaint on her, but she knew he was only bluffing.
Guy: “No way, I’ll do that.”
Gretchen: “Well sorry, but I won’t give you my name or my ID. It’s just a base procedure that we need to follow.”
Him: “OK, then give me your supervisor’s name and ID. I’ll have a chat with him.”
Gretchen: “No. I cannot provide that information for privacy.”
Him: “Then give me your name and ID.”
Gretchen: “I’ll do if you give me yours first.”
She knew how unprofessional she was being, even borderline childish, but she wasn’t going to let this guy force her into violating policy and then be blamed for his wrongdoings.
Him: “No! I won’t give you my information. There’s no way I’ll do it! Give me your name!”
He was now shouting, and Gretchen could sense it was only going to get worse. So to move forward with the call, because obviously, he wasn’t going to, she finally responded to his question.
Gretchen: “My name is Joan.”
Him: “OK, and your employee ID?”
Gretchen: “I’ll give it to you when you give me yours.”
She expected him to repeat the same question back to her, avoiding providing his information, but to her surprise, he instead, gave her a different response.
Unprofessionalism At Its Finest
There was a short pause before he spoke again.
Guy: “You know what? I’ll look into another way to solve this issue myself. Thanks for nothing.”
Gretchen: “You’re welco—”
Before she could finish her sentence, he immediately hung up. But Gretchen couldn’t care less, that call took way longer than it should’ve been. If the guy didn’t act like such an entitled moron, then she could’ve helped not only him but also the “supposedly” angry customer.
She understood how stressful the job could get, but it didn’t give him the right to take his frustration out on her. Shouting and making demands is never the solution to get people to help you. And to think, he wasn’t a customer, but another customer service rep. He should have known better to not act like a Karen. That never helps the situation. Gretchen was just following protocol and ultimately saving them from a lot of trouble if it came back around to them.
Honestly, he should’ve just passed the customer call to her. With the amount of time he wasted going back and forth with Gretchen, she could’ve resolved the customer’s issue and gone on with her shift.
Some people aren’t made for the industry, and it clearly shows, but at least be professional and respectful. If not then things won’t work out in your favor. As we all saw what happened here.