when the status quo frustrates.

A Rant in F Sharp

For the last month, I have picked up another (unfortunately, temporary) job working at a call center. And for this reason, I post this rant.

Stop calling tech support pissed off at ME. It is not my fault that you don’t know what you’re doing. The current software company I work with has one of the most user-friendly software on the face of the earth, and people have the audacity to call in and be mad at us. 90% of the time, possibly more, the fault is that you don’t know how to work your computer and/or the software. Yes, you might have to by the upgrade for our software- the product we made in 1990 is not going to work on Window’s 7. Alternately, it’s not our fault that you haven’t upgraded your software since DOS and our brand-new software requires more space than your computer’s entire hard drive. Maybe 5% of the time you don’t know how to work your security, and it’s interfering with our server. About maybe 1% is it a problem that actually requires our help.

If you don’t understand how to work the software, read the manual. Alternately, check our website for our lovely step-by-step tutorial videos, or our extensive knowledge base articles. Yes, upgrading means you’re going to have to do maybe 30 minutes of familiarizing yourself with the new layout and features. If you don’t know how to drive a car, you don’t call Ford asking them for over-the-phone lessons. Same thing with us- we hold your hand enough. I don’t deserve your ire because you are to computer ignorant to follow an installation wizard. I deserve your gratitude for my patience and not pointing out your mental deficiencies.

Speaking of customer limitations; we are over the telephone. I don’t know what screen you’re looking at. I don’t know what system you’re on. I don’t know what product you’re using. These things all have to be communicated verbally- I can’t magically see your computer through the headset nor read your mind. If I ask you for information, I’m not trying to stall so don’t ct snippy with me. Additionally, don’t act like I’m a mental patient if I ask you to spell your email or to repeat something. Even if your email is “ilovecats@yahoo.com” I don’t know if that’s 1lovecats or Iluvkats, or any of a million other variations. Also “f” and “s”, “m” and “n”, “p” and “t” and “c” can sound like the same letter over the telephone, especially if you have a bad connection or a thick accent. I know people don’t necessarily know the formal phonetic alphabet, but it wouldn’t kill you to say “f” as in “Frank” or “Food” or “Fuck” for all I care. I just want to type the right letter- your mutterings make it sound like I should be using a cyrillic keyboard.

So, quick recap:
1) Don’t be rude and mad when it’s probably your fault.
3) I don’t know any information until you give it to me
3a corollary) I don’t know what you’re seeing until you tell me
4)When you’re listing letters and numbers, speak clearly and slowly. If in doubt, throw in an “as in”.

Follow these simple rules, we can both go back to our normal lives relatively painlessly.

10 Responses to “A Rant in F Sharp”

  1. Evan Harper says:

    From my experience, “temporary call center job” is a pleonasm. You either move up, off the phones, to a quality or supervisory job, or you move out. Anyone who’s been there for two years is a grizzled veteran.

  2. Katie says:

    Oof. Not that I was ever mean to call center staff before this, but I was in an intensive 10-day group therapy program earlier this year, and half of the people who were there worked at the same credit card company call center that’s in the area. All of them had basically had a breakdown because of the work they do, which like you’ve implied, is basically just dealing with people yelling at you all day.

    I always keep that in mind whenever I have to call customer service for anything now. Like I said, I was never mean to people before but I always try to be especially pleasant now.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Ugh. Call center work is the worst. My former job was a major contributor to my depression & anxiety and eventual panic attacks. DO NOT stay long.

  4. Antigone says:

    The funny thing is, the company is AWESOME. Very supportive management, I love my co-workers, we get beer on Friday. For the busy season, they have stocked two mini-fridges with snacks and sodas. We are backed up if we hang up on abusive people. It’s a good company, the job still sorta sucks.

  5. m Andrea says:

    lol most software is written by autistic anti-social male nerds who have no clue how regular humans process information. So they almost always put things in the wrong place or leave things out. They are familar with the baffling quirks and sinkholes of their own program, because they have spent days/weeks/months/years on it, and consequently have the fucking gall to expect someone looking at it for the first time to possess the same familarity. There isn’t a program in existence which I haven’t cursed the imbeciles who wrote it.

    ah, so I guess I’m disagreeing. :) lol

  6. m Andrea says:

    otoh, I’ve never actually called tech support… :)

  7. Antigone says:

    Andrea, put it this way:

    When you get the software, you press a button that says “Activate”. You type in your email address and password. You then get another screen that asks “Is this the subscription you’d like to activate” and a button that says “Activate Now”. You click that and click done.

    That’s all that I help people with all night. I didn’t program the software, I’m about average with computer savvy, and that would have taken me 40 seconds.

  8. Superla says:

    I’m assuming your clientèle is mostly from the US. If not, ignore. Here is my advice: Answer the phone in a British accent. People will be nicer to you. I don’t know why. Maybe it throws them off just a little. Maybe because British accents are weirdly fetishized in the US (swoooon!). But it works!

    Make sure you say things like, “Brilliant, love. Brilliant.” Jesus! I feel calmer already just typing that!

  9. Antigone says:

    Lol, we do get some international clientèle. I love listening to the Scottish accents.

  10. DPirate says:

    I like how you use “we” every time you mention this company that you aren’t going to work for very long. I do it too, as much as I hate to admit it. It’s really pathetic what we identify with.

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