Questions

When a customer calls in to us they hear an IVR recording before they get through to an agent. It tells them the company name and gives a bit of information about the company. After this they get through to an agent who proceeds to answer any queries they may have. Answering questions is an everyday part of the job. There are multitudes of customers calling each and every day with all sorts of questions, from the most technical to the utterly sublime.

Here are a few of the questions we are faced with on a regular basis:

‘Do you know if it’s covered under my home insurance?’
‘I don’t know anything about your home insurance so I can’t possibly answer that question.’

‘£12 for the year? What does that mean?’
‘It means it’s £12 for the year.’ Was my reply.

‘I love the way it says from £2.50 a month. Ha ha..’
‘If you press the button where it says ‘find out more’ you’ll see it’s £2.50 month with an excess or £5 month without an excess. It’s all very clear.’

‘I’m calling about the plumbing cover. Is this building insurance?’
‘No. It’s plumbing cover. Building insurance covers your building. That’s why it’s called building insurance.’

‘I’m looking at the cover that’s £6 a month. Can you tell me the price?’
‘£6 a month just like it says.’

‘Is that the chiropodist?’

‘I’d like to order the next batch of bird seed for my budgie. Has is it come in yet?’

‘I take it you have my details in front of you?’
‘No. You haven’t even told me your name yet, never mind your address.’

‘There’s nothing wrong at the moment. I know it won’t cover pre-existing problems. I have a dripping tap – can you send someone out now?’

‘What do you mean ‘natural gas’?’
‘Is there a gas metre in your home?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. How am I going to know that?’

‘Can you tell me who my water board is?’

‘Can you put me through to an overseas number?’

‘I’m trying to get through to…but they’ve got an 0845 number. Yours is a Freephone number, so can you put me through?’

And I work for an insurance company.

Long Weekend Over

Well this lovely, long bank holiday weekend has now finished and I’m back at work. And of course today was crazy! Call after call after call. Some pleasant, some downright awkward, and some unbelievably stupid.

I also had a few people trying very hard to hide their accent and speak in a posh voice. We get this from time to time. Nothing wrong with it at all. There are times when each of us try to speak better, for instance if we’re ringing the bank manager. You can always tell when someone is trying to get their pronunciation and grammar right on the phone. There’s a lot of ‘Ers’ and ‘Ahrs’, a lot of clearing the throat, and the customer always seems to have difficulty telling us what they actually want. If they spoke as they normally would they’d get to the point quicker and save a lot of time.

I also had the obligatory internet call. This is where the customer is looking at the internet when they decide to call. It’s always the same procedure. They tell me they want a quote on a particular policy. I ask them how they heard about it. They tell me they’re looking at it on the internet, to which I ask them for the name of the cover. They rarely know the name even though it is on the web page that they are looking at, but they can always tell me the price. So they’ll say something like ‘I’m looking at the £60 cover without excess’.

‘Ok, I know which one it is now. How can I help you with this?’

‘Can you give me a quote?’

‘It’s the price that you’re looking at.’ Is my normal answer.

Good Times

We had a great team motivating session a few days ago. Played jenga, hangman, bingo, drew a portrait of one of our colleagues and wrote a poem. We had to take calls as well – just the odd one or two. It was a lovely day with a lot of laughter and friendship.

I won a couple of games of hangman, a joint win at bingo, and I won the poem competition. Yes – I’m a poet and didn’t know it! My poem has also been entered into the company wide competition. My portrait drawing was pretty bad, but I can’t be good everything lol.

I then won £75 on a scratch card.

Today I had a surprise ‘get off the phones and go watch the Easter bonnet competition for an hour’, and ‘have a drink on us’, and, the best part, ‘you can go home an hour earlier on us’. Yes, I’m very happy at the moment. These good times can carry on. I do not mind. I have no problem with it all. 🙂

Getting The Name Right

When of the worst things about working on the phones is that you can’t always hear the name of the customer correctly. This can happen for a number of reasons: The sound is sometimes quite when you first answer the phone, the line is distorted, you can’t tell whether it’s male or female, there’s a strong accent… The list goes on. It’s not uncommon to get the persons name wrong, and it can be downright embarrassing.

I’ve had people coming through with a high pitched voice and I sit there saying ‘Mrs…’ until they correct me with ‘Mr…’ Or someone with a very low voice telling me half way through the call that it’s ‘Mrs…’

It can also be quite funny. I had an agent from one of our partner companies calling me with a customer on hold. ‘Customer’s name is Zoy,’ she told me.

‘How do you spell that?’ I asked. ‘Is it Z O Y?’

‘No. It’s Z O E.’ She said.

Needless to say that it was a good job that I had asked.

Sometimes the customer has an accent and what they say sounds like something else. One customer I luckily had to transfer to another department. His name sounded like Fannybender. I didn’t fancy using that through the call. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get straight face.

Will It Change?

A customer called to ask the details of a particular policy. Turns out that his property was not suitable for the policy in question, so I explained this to him and gave him the details of a more suitable cover. He then decided to ask me whether the policy would change if he bought it.

Did he think I was lying to him? If he bought a policy that didn’t cover certain items would we cover them if he had called to claim? Do policies miraculously change from one thing to another when you purchase them?

The answer is no on all accounts.

I can’t lie about what is and isn’t covered. That would be blatant miss-selling and I’d be in very serious trouble. So would the company. And if we say that something isn’t covered then it isn’t. Simple as that. You can buy the policy and try to claim but you won’t get anywhere. Especially when our calls are recorded so we have it on record that we told you.

Oh, and don’t buy it on the internet. It still won’t change.

Children

A lady phoned me today after receiving a mailing from us about one of our policies. I could hear her children crying in the background. It also sounded like they were being smacked. They were crying properly, not the moaning crying that kids do to get their own way. The lady wanted to set up the policy, but it bothered me quite a lot that her children were crying.

‘Are your children ok?’ I asked her.

‘Yeah, yeah.’ Came the answer, and then it went very quite.

I explained how long it would take me to set the policy up and asked again if she wanted to check on her kids. She then said they were with their grandmother. She then began to swear at someone who was with her. I was about to remind her that the call was being recorded, more for the sake of her kids than the swearing, but she hung up on me.

It worried me that she thought more about making a phone call then she did about the well-being of her children. We often get people calling us when they’re obviously holding a baby, the poor little thing crying when it needs a bit of attention. I often ask if the person would like to call us back.

The powers-that-be at work will probably say that I should never get involved in things like that, just do my job and ignore anything in the background. But is it really that easy? And is it right to ignore it? Surely children should come first? If we can hear someone being hurt should we really ignore it?

And what if someone actually tells us that they are doing something illegal? The DPA laws say we can’t give their information out without permission. But surely there should be a moral duty, a humane duty, to pass the information on to someone in authority who can investigate? Or should we just ignore it and let it continue?