Just How Hard Is It?

Just how hard is it to listen to what I am saying? It appears to be extremely difficult for some people. Take a customer that phoned me a few days ago.

‘I’ve had a letter from you about the plumbing and drainage cover. Well, I’ve already got this cover. So why are you sending me a letter about it?’

‘You haven’t got the plumbing and drainage cover Mr…, but you do have the cover on the fresh water supply pipe. That’s a different cover.’ I told him.

‘Yes. That’s right. The cover I’ve got covers the internal plumbing.’

‘No it doesn’t. The one you’ve got covers the outside fresh water supply pipe. The plumbing and drainage policy covers the internal plumbing and the sewerage system. It’s £…’

‘So I’ve got the internal plumbing covered.’

‘No. You haven’t.’

‘What’s the price for the sewerage pipe?’

‘£… for the first year introductory cost, and the current second year price is £…’ I answered.

‘So it’s £…for the first year and £…thereafter.’

‘No…’

After about ten minutes I managed to get through to him.

Or how about a customer that phoned in today.

‘What type of property is it, Mrs…?’

‘It’s in the middle.’ She told me.

Full Moon Time Again!

Well here we are again, another full moon and more memorable calls. Take the lady who called me about our plumbing insurance policy…

‘What does it cover?’ She asked me.

I gave her a list of examples and told her that it covered the internal plumbing and the sewerage system, where both the internal drains and the external drains were covered.

‘Does it cover the drain outside?’

‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Both the internal and the external drains are covered. It doesn’t cover the fresh water supply pipe but the sewerage drain is covered.’ I hoped this was a bit clearer for her.

‘I don’t understand what you mean.’

‘It covers the pipe that takes the waste away from your house.’

‘It’s really not clear.’ She said. ‘I’m really not following you.’

‘It covers the pipe that takes the sewerage from you toilet. The pipe you wouldn’t drink from.’ She understood that.

She then asked how it was paid and could she pay monthly? I explained that she could pay by card or direct debit over the phone, so monthly direct debit was fine.

‘Does that mean that I’ll have to phone every month to pay?’

I had actually decided not to set up anything for this person earlier in the call, due to the questions she was asking me. She clearly did not know what she was doing. She settled for an enquiry pack to be sent out before buying.

Tuesdays calls have been the worst this week. About 90% of the customers have been asking weird and wonderful questions, especially after I’ve already given them the answer. I just hope the rest of the week is better.

Financial Year End

We’re now coming up to the end of this financial year at work. This month has not been as busy as it normally is this time of year. I reckon it’s the calm before the storm though. There are mailings going out and they’re pushing certain types of cover this next week, so I’m expecting it to get mega busy. After all, the company wants to get as much in as possible before the end of the financial year.

We’re normally run off our feet and ripping our hair out until the end of April, then it begins to get a bit quieter.

There have been many changes in the company over this year, including the levelling out of the salaries and a bit of restructuring in the higher levels. It will be interesting to see what happens next year, although those of us who are long time employees are not looking forward to the new salary bands that have been put in place. It’s made many of us feel that the work we have put in is disregarded. So I hope that they put something in place to show us that our experience and knowledge is actually appreciated for a change.

Yes, it will be interesting.

Mobile Phones

We’re not allowed to use our mobile phones in the call centre. It’s annoying for the staff, but it’s safer for the customers. It may sound a bit strange to people who are not familiar with the workings of a call centre.

Basically we are dealing with payment details every day. Credit cards, debit cards, direct debits. It’s a sad fact that there are some very unscrupulous people out there who would welcome the opportunity to have access to another persons bank details. Many people, myself included, have been the victim of fraud.

My company does stringent checks on people and random yearly credit checks to try and filter these type of people out. The methods used are not fool proof however, so they also try to limit the duplication methods. This includes banning devices such as mobiles or iphones that can record or scan details. We are not allowed to write bank details down or leave any type of customer details on our desks. All security measures to make things safer for the customer.

Unfortunately not every company thinks like this.

Yesterday I went into town with my parents who are in their 70’s. My mom wanted a new mobile contract. We went into a very well known mobile place. The assistants were very nice and friendly – it wasn’t at all Scary Mary. My mom chose the contract she wanted and handed over her bank details to set it up. The manager of the shop, yes I said MANAGER, stood behind the assistant and took out his mobile phone. He began writing a text while the assistant was setting up the payment details. My parents didn’t think anything of this but I was shocked.

‘Are you guys regulated by the FCA?’ I asked the assistant.

The manager answered, ‘yes. Our insurance is regulated by the FCA.’

‘I’m asking because my company is regulated and if I used my mobile phone while I was setting up payment details I would be fired.’ I pointed out.

The manager very hastily put his mobile away and tried to say it was his work phone. I don’t care if it’s his work phone. You’d think that he’d have more sense than to text while there are payment details are in front of him. Did he think that an elderly couple didn’t require any respect, or was he actually up to no good?

Make up your own mind.

I going to turn into Scary Mary, and send in a written complaint.

Chinese Whispers

I have a friend who whispers on the phone. She even whispers when there is no one else in the house. I find it infuriating if I’m on the other end of the phone.

We get a few customers who like to whisper too. We have to turn the volume up on the phone to hear what they are saying. But every background noise, cough, sniff, etc, comes through like a fog horn almost bursting our ear drums. I remember on the one call the woman cleared her throat and it was so loud after having to turn up the volume that I snatched my headphones off and flung them across the desk.

‘Ahhh! My ears!’ I yelled. The customer did not apologise. Nor did she stop whispering. What a bitch!

Why do people need to whisper? Is it because they don’t want someone to hear them? Well why not ring at a different time? If it’s your family then they probably know about your insurance. If it’s visitors then what are you doing phoning an insurance company when people have come to see you? That is just plain rude. Are you whispering because you are at work? Don’t you want the boss to hear? Then what are you doing making personal phone calls while you are work? Wait for your lunch or break when you won’t have to whisper.

Let’s face it, if I can’t hear you properly then you are not going to receive correct information to your questions. If I can’t hear you I may be setting up a policy that is different to the one that you called about. Maybe a significantly more expensive policy.

Tricks of the Call Centre

We’ve been very busy of late in the call centre. Almost at the end of the financial year so the company is trying to make as much money as possible. Trouble is there are not enough agents to handle the call volume. We are frequently getting call queues of double figures. The company gets fined if there are any abandoned calls, which there frequently are as customers do not want to wait 20 minutes or more to speak to someone. So what does the company do? Simple. They get all the other departments to answer the calls as well. As long as the call is answered it won’t be abandoned. So customers are going through to the wrong people and are then being transferred internally. The customer then has wait in another queue. But it stops the amount of abandoned calls and prevents the company getting fined. Simple.

It’s annoying for the customer and it’s sheer hell for those of taking the calls. We get extremely annoyed answering call after call that should be for another department. Of course the customers have a go at us. They’ve been waiting in a queue and then they’re told they’re being transferred. It’s not good for anyone, but it saves the company getting fined.

So next time you’re in a call queue, just bear in mind that no matter what options you have pressed, you may well get transferred when the call is answered. Don’t take it out on the agent. The agent has had their share of having to transfer calls and they’re as annoyed, if not more so, than you.