Customer Attitude

We’ve noticed a change in customer attitude during the last few weeks. It’s probably due to the amount of information in the media about various companies miss-selling, and several companies being fined by the Financial Conduct Authority. But the attitude is not pleasant.

Several of us have had customers coming through saying that they want investigations into their policy being miss-sold. I asked one woman why she thought it may have been miss-sold. She said it was because she had received a lot of phone calls from companies offering her various things so she didn’t know what she was doing. Is it really our fault if she doesn’t know what she’s doing? Various companies is not one company is it?

Many people are coming through and complaining about the tone of our voice, or our attitude, or how unhelpful we are. It’s usually because we can’t give them the answer they want, or we can’t tell them what policy they need. Well how can we? Seriously. We don’t know what insurance they may already have, or what they need to get covered in their house. This is for the homeowner to know. It is for the customer to tell us what they want covered. Many of them seem to be unable to do this.

They’re yelling at us because we can’t discuss someone else’s policy details with them, or because they are not covered for something they have a problem with, or because they haven’t bothered to read the documents. Yes. It’s all our fault.

We’re regulated by the FCA so we have to abide by those regulations, such as getting a policy holders permission before discussing policy details with anyone else, or stating clearly in the documents what is covered and what is not covered. We also give an explanation in the mailings that are sent out, and we run through a lot of information when setting up the policy over the phone. All of this was done by the FCA to make sure that things were done fairly for the customer. In other words to ensure that the customer can buy safely and with everything up front and in detail, so they know what they are getting. Of course it doesn’t mean that the customer will read the information or will listen to what they are being told. Far from it at times.

Maybe if people stopped paying so much attention to the media and more attention to documents that are sent to them, their own property, their families, maybe then they’d realise that things are being done with regards to their well being. Maybe if the government put more into the education of this country then more people would be able to think for themselves. Just maybe.

Compassion in World Farming
http://action.ciwf.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=119&ea.campaign.id=25818&ea.tracking.id=7774353c&utm_campaign=transport&utm_source=actionemail&utm_medium=email&ea.url.id=203560&ea.campaigner.email=XeJR54x1v/EZXjmu%2BdOLODTH0kHiu5Hp&ea_broadcast_target_id=0

Your Address

If you phone me up at the call centre one of the things I will ask you for is your address. This is part of the Data Protection which we have to comply with.

About 30% of the answers I get are the actual address. That is the full address. The other 70% is anything but. Here are some of the scenarios:

1)
‘Can I have your address please?’
‘Mr J S…’
‘And the address?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And…?’

2)
‘Can I have your address please?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And where is that?’

3)
‘Can I have your FULL address please?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And…?’

4)
‘Can I have your address please?’
‘London.’
‘And whereabouts in London might that be?’

5)
‘Can I have your full address please?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘And where is that?’
‘2 Dumb Street.’
‘But where is it?’
‘It’s Mr J S… from 2 Dumb Street.’
‘If I put 2 Dumb Street and your name on an envelope I doubt that it will get to you. So what is the rest of the address?’
‘I’ve just told you. I don’t know what you are talking about.’
‘Where is 2 Dumb Street? Is it England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Mars, India, the Moon? Where is it?’
‘Oh.’

The above are based on actual calls. I say based as names and addresses are obviously not included for real!

I think that most people should know their address. The exclusions would be the very young, people with extreme disabilities, or possibly someone that has just moved into the property – but they would more than likely have it written down somewhere, such as on the contracts they have signed when they purchased the property. Basically there is no excuse for the majority of people for not knowing their address. Whether it’s laziness or just plain stupidity I don’t know.

For most occasions the first line of the address and the postcode are sufficient to find the rest of the details. But for security purposes the full address is always better.

Something Different – Poison

I was recently sent an email from Avaaz about the decline in Britain’s barn owl population – http://www.avaaz.org/save_britains_barn_owls This apparently is due to the use of rat poison on farms around the country. I signed the petition and added my thoughts in the small comment box. I thought I would share my thoughts here.

If you don’t want a plethora of rats and mice around then barn owls eat rats so we don’t need poison. We need more barn owls. Rat poison is barbaric. Not only does it kill rats but it also builds up in the system of other animals that eat the dead or dying rats. This is why it’s killing off the barn owls. The rest of the owl species are also suffering, as are other birds of prey. This cycle will continue as the poisons build up in the next in the food chain and in the soil until, ultimately, it will reach us.

This is not just a problem with rat poison but with all pesticides used in the garden and farm lands. They all should be banned. We are currently noticing a decline in garden birds – check the use of pesticides on slugs and insects that people use without thought in their garden. The dead slugs and insects are being eaten by our common garden birds – sparrows, starlings, thrushes, blackbirds, etc. Carrion birds such as magpies and crows are flourishing – they are eating the dead garden birds. In the next few years we will see a decrease in these carrion eaters as the poisons slowly build up in their systems. Poisons that cannot be digested.

These poisons are putting money in big company pockets, and they use fear tactics to get people to buy them. They frequently tell us about the diseases we can get from rats and mice. But how many diseases do we get from other humans? The number is in the hundreds and many of them are deadly. These companies have also tried to blame cats for the decline in the garden bird population. This is nonsense. Cats have always caught birds, right through the centuries. But all of a sudden they are on some kind of genocide mission?

Rats especially eat the rubbish that humans discard. They clean up after us. If we were cleaner and more concerned about our environment the rat and mice population would not be flourishing. How often do we see people throwing litter on the streets? It’s a common occurrence. If we didn’t do it we wouldn’t need the rats to clean it up. They would naturally die off. Here’s a question I like asking people – Who is the vermin? Is it the one who drops the rubbish or the one that cleans it up?

Come on people think for yourselves – birds eat the things we don’t want around. We need more birds not more poisons. Poisons should be banned.

Read or Listen

I’ve mentioned this subject a few times about people who go on the net and then ring us for the information that is right in front of them, or ring us asking about a product and then not listening to what we are saying. It’s a very common occurrence and very annoying. I had a very nice lady doing exactly this a few days ago.

It normally takes about 10 minutes to set up a policy. This particular one took over 45 minutes. Not because it was a difficult policy or because there was too much information for me to give out. No. It took ages because the customer hadn’t bothered reading the information on the net – where she saw the policy – and hadn’t decided whether she wanted excess or no excess. In fact she changed her mind 3 times during the call. She also asked many questions – all of which were answered on the web.

I managed to keep myself calm and patient throughout the call. This is quite an achievement for me. I have very little patience with people who are lazy or thick. Several times I had to say to her ‘..no, I didn’t say that…’ and then repeat what I’d said, because she clearly wasn’t listening to my answers when she asked a question. For an example of how the call went throughout the 45 minutes, I told her the payment options and said there was no further charge whichever way she chose.

‘I want to pay monthly. Is there any further charge?’ She asked.

I was very glad when I had finished the call.

Environmentalism Or Being Green

My work colleague sent me this so I’d like to share.

Checking out at the supermarket, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The older woman apologised and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

“That’s our problem today – your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” Responded the cashier.

She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Grocery shops bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we re-used for numerous things. Besides household bags for rubbish, the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks was most memorable. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school), was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalise our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have a lift in every supermarket, shop and office building. We walked to the local shop and didn’t climb into a 300 horsepower machine every time we had to go half a mile.

But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s Terry Towel nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 3 kilowatts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids had hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. And we knew how to sew.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Back then, we had one radio or TV in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a big handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Scotland In the kitchen. We blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We pushed the mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a tap or fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their Mums into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s £50,000 ‘People Carrier’. A car that costs the same as a whole house did before the “green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances and we didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest Pub!

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We ate fruit and veg that came from the fields without being drowned in chemicals. And farm animals were allowed to live and breathe, run and play in the fields instead of being kept in cramped cupboards.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart arse young person…

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off…especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartarse who can’t work out the change without the cash register telling them how much it is!

Here endeth the bloody lesson!

Work Toilets

I touched on the topic of work toilets in my last blog. Well this blog is devoted to the subject! DO NOT READ WHILE EATING.

I’m sure everyone knows of people who go the toilet and don’t bother washing their hands. There’s also those who can’t be bothered to flush the toilet or put paper towels in the bin. I work with a few of them.

It’s normal routine to go to the toilets and enter several cubicles before finding a clean one. Usually it’s because some lazy person can’t be bothered to flush the loo. On the rare occasion it’s because the flush mechanism is not working properly. I say rare because we have many plumbers working for our firm – we sell plumbing insurance. Any problem with the loos and they’re fixed pretty quickly. Problems with certain staff members aren’t that easy to fix.

Some people are not just lazy – they are dirty scrubbers. Not flushing the chain could be classed as lazy. Missing the bin with the paper towel and not picking it up is lazy. But dropping dirty toilet paper on the floor instead of in the toilet pan is dirty. DIRTY! Covering the toilet seat with loo paper and then not cleaning it off is dirty. DIRTY! Leaving urine or blood on the seat is dirty. DIRTY! And leaving shit on the toilet seat is being a F*CKING DIRTY SCRUBBER.

I walked into the toilets the one day to see someone cleaning her feet so she could go and pray. Around her feet lay about 8 or 9 paper towels. You wouldn’t stand in someone else’s rubbish to wash your feet or any other part of the body I’m thinking. In which case it had to be her rubbish. There are two bins in the toilets, and each cubicle has it’s own bin. The one bin was well within easy reach of her. She may need clean feet to go and pray but she was putting the same shoes on – dirty shoes – and dropping the paper towels on the floor. In my humble opinion this certainly makes her a dirty person. Or am I missing something?

There’s been a sign up in the toilets, actually above the sinks, warning people not to sit on the sink. I wonder why people would need to sit on the sink? What exactly are they washing? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Especially when intimate wipes are commonly available, and each toilet is equipped with loo paper.

Talking to the cleaners is real eye opener. They’ve obviously seen things that we really don’t want to think about. As well as the dirty toilets, unflushed toilets, and loo paper or paper towels strewn everywhere the cleaners have also seen snot being wiped on the doors, shit being wiped on the doors, blood wiped on the doors, plastic cups being shoved down the toilet, sanitary towels dropped on the floor or blocking the toilet. They have a really nasty experience cleaning the loos every day.

However, my favourite two stories from the cleaners are: the carrier bag full of shit in the bin, and the bags full of curry attached to each cubicle door in the other building. Yes you read it correctly. Someone had shit in a carrier bag and put it in the bin in the toilets. Why not sit on the toilet? Why would you shit in a carrier bag? Your guess is as good as mine.

One of the cleaners found that someone had attached a bag of curry to each cubicle door in the toilets in the other building. Maybe the person who did this thought the people in that building were constipated. Whatever the reason they were obviously off their rocker.

If you’ve read this I bet you’ll never think of work or public toilets in the same way again. I certainly don’t. I carry a pack of wipes in the bag at all times. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs. They come in very useful.

Aches, Pains, And Ailments

Following on from previous blogs about the ease of falling sick in the call centre, it’s not just people going to work sick that are the problem. There’s also the hazard of the aches, pains, ailments from the job itself and the equipment being used.

It’s normally very busy and we are requested to give a lot of information when setting up a policy, as well as the normal daily customer service ad answering enquiries. It’s important, if not crucial, to keep a drink on the desk as talking so much dries the throat and it can become very sore very quickly. This obviously leads to the problem of wanting the loo frequently. We are allowed 15 minutes during the day for toilet breaks, this is on top of breaks and lunch. It’s very easy to go over this, even when breaks and lunch are used for the toilet too, as we all drink a lot of water, tea and coffee, which are diuretics, and pop. Caffeine, which is in a lot of fizzy drinks, as well as tea and coffee, is also a diuretic.

We also wear a headset and all too often the customers come through on a bad line, or eating, coughing, sniffing, clearing their throats, shouting, or just speaking too fast that we can’t get a word in edgeways. It often causes headaches or earache. The stress it generates creates back and neck strain. We get eye strain from staring at the computer so much and from the overhead lights. Then there’s the constantly changing temperature. Every day it’s hot then cold, hot then cold, hot then cold…My jumper’s on then off, on then off, on then off…

Then there’s the desk hopping. When you’ve finished for the day, or if you’re not in, there’s often someone who will sit at your desk so they can chat to a mate. The slightest cough over the keyboard and you’ve had it. Or if they have a cold and rub their nose. You get the picture? I keep a pack of disinfectant wipes in my bag. They kill 99.9% of germs – so it says on the packet.

And there’s the noise in the call centre. People around you are normally on the phone. If they’re not then they’re chatting, laughing, joking, or sometimes shouting across the bay to another bay. I can’t count the amount of times I have had to ask people to keep quiet because I’m straining to hear a customer. And more often than not, it’s the managers not the agents who are causing the noise.

The worst problem by far is the total lack of hygiene of some people. I’ve seen people picking their nose and wiping it under the desk, and I know people who can’t be bothered to wash their hands after going to the toilet. In fact the state of the toilets and what the cleaners have to put up with will be the subject of another blog – not to be read whilst eating.

Not only do we have to have a thick skin to deal with the irate, aggressive, and plain rude customers (not all of them thank goodness), we also need a super human immune system to just survive work.