No Letter

‘I want to take out a policy.’ She told me.

‘Have you had a letter from us?’ I asked thinking she’d probably had a mailing advertising one of our products.

‘No I haven’t.’

So I took a few details from her and then I checked again. ‘Have you had a letter or have you had a look on the internet?’

‘No I haven’t.’ She repeated.

‘Can I ask how you heard about the cover?’

‘I had it with you before.’ She answered.

‘Ok. And you say you’ve had no recent letters from us?’ I checked again as I know that letters have gone out recently to certain areas.

‘I haven’t had anything.’

So I began to run through our usual regulatory spiel but within a few seconds she had interrupted me.

‘Yes, it says all that on this letter I’ve got.’

Lovely. You have to experience it to believe it.


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In The Lonely Hour

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Can You Check The Form?

‘Can you check the form I sent in?’ He asked hopefully. ‘I don’t think I filled it in. I know I filled in the cheque correctly, but I don’t think I filled in the form. Can you check it?’

‘It doesn’t look as though it’s arrived yet.’ I explained. ‘When did you post it?’

‘Half hour ago.’ He told me, rather confidently.

I patiently explained that it would take a few days to reach us, and even the post, as great as it was, could not be collected from the post box, delivered to the sorting office, sorted, checked, placed in the sacks, loaded on to vans, delivered to the correct area of the country, sorted into suburbs, given to the relevant Postie and then delivered to us, all in the space of half hour.

Then again miracles do happen. I don’t think the odds would be too good on this miracle happening though.


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Non-Advised Sales

We are non-advised sales at my company. This means that we cannot give advise on the suitability of a product for a customer. We can ask questions to try and point the customer in the right direction, or to perhaps jog their mind, but ultimately it has to be the customer’s decision on whether something is right for them or not. Sometimes it can be more than difficult.

‘I had a letter about (our company). I just want the price.’ He mumbled.

‘Do you have the reference off the letter?’ I asked.

‘No. Letter about (our company). Just want price.’ He mumbled again.

‘Well you are through to (company name), so what do you want the price on?’

‘Want the price for insurance.’

‘Which insurance?’ I persevered.

(company name)

‘We do a lot of different insurance products. What do you want to get covered?’

(company name)‘ He repeated.

‘What does the letter say?’ I tried a different tactic.

‘Tells me about (company name), so I want the price.’

Sometimes it’s just best to end the call. I politely told him to decide what he wanted to get covered in his home, to find the reference on the letter, to read the letter, and then to call us back.

If he had rung a company that was not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (luckily we are) then the agent would probably have seen this as a prime opportunity to flog every product on their books. Money for the business but certainly not good for a customer who so obviously has no understanding of why he is ringing.

And there are still some insurance companies that are not regulated by the FCA. So my advice – while I’m not at work – is to know exactly what you want before you ring any company, and make sure you read their literature from cover to cover.


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A Photo!

‘Can I take the model of the boiler please?’ I asked the gentleman who called in to register his new appliance.

‘I don’t know the model, but my wife has sent me a photo.’ He told me sincerely.

Well how exactly am I going to register a boiler from a photo held by a customer at the other end of the country? Maybe he thought he could describe a square, white box to me and I would, obviously, know exactly which boiler it just happened to be. Or did he think I could actually see this photo while I was on the phone? I don’t yet know of any call centre that does video calling with customers. That would be interesting.

Not to mention that the model and serial numbers are going to be quite small and so they wouldn’t be seen on a photo.

This man was a member of a professional occupation. Certainly a profession that I would expect to know what they were doing. Anything other that would be extremely frightening in his particular career. In fact it doesn’t bear thinking about.

‘Can you help me with a pain I have in my back?’

‘Send me a photo.’


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Registering A Guarantee

A customer called me to register the guarantee on a new appliance she had. I informed her that I’d need a few details to register it. I asked for the model of the appliance.

‘Don’t you have that? I thought all the details would be on your system.’ She said.

I answer the call by saying ‘You are through to (my name) at (my company name), on behalf of (appliance company name). So it is clear that you are not calling the company you bought the appliance from. In view of this, exactly how am I going to have the details on my system when it has not been registered?

Each appliance comes with a guarantee card that can be filled in and returned in the post. All the details needed to register the appliance are on this card. The amount of people who call us to register an appliance with no details whatsoever is mind-boggling. The information needed is right in front of them and yet they still can’t be bothered to get it before they call in.

They never told me that mind reading was part of the job portfolio. I may have to have a word with my Union about this.


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I Understand Completely!

A customer said that she understood completely! Well I’ve heard that one many times over.

‘I’m an agent ringing on behalf of the landlord.’ She told me. ‘I want to know when the policy expires.’

I explained that we had no details of the agents on our system, and no permission from the policy holder to discuss the details with anyone. However, I offered to check how much information I could give without breaking regulations.

‘I can give you the expiry date,’ I told her, ‘but I can’t discuss any of the policy or payment details as we have no permission from the policy holder.’

‘That’s fine.’ She said. ‘I just want the date it expires. I understand completely that you can’t discuss the details of the policy.’

So I gave her the date that the policy was due to expire, not mentioning anything about the policy, not even what it was called.

‘That’s great.’ She thanked me. ‘Now can you tell me what it covers?’

As I mentioned above, I’ve heard the ‘I understand completely’ many times before, and 9 out of 10 customers obviously don’t understand!


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Third Parties

I’ve mentioned before about third party callers and the fact that we can’t discuss policy details with them. Not without the express permission of the policy holder or a copy of the Power of Attorney. Most people understand this. It’s only the few that complain relentlessly trying to get us to back down. There are times when we can give generic information – trying to answer questions without discussing a person’s policy.

A gentleman called me the other day, on behalf on his friend who was in hospital. He explained that his friend had received a renewal and he wanted to let us know that he would get her to send in a cheque. Well I could see quite clearly that the policy had already been paid but I couldn’t discuss this with him due to the FCA regulations. So I tried to tell him without telling him.

‘I’m going to see her tomorrow in hospital.’ He explained. ‘So I’ll take her cheque book and get her to write it out and then I’ll post it for her.’

‘When you see her tomorrow get her to double check that she hasn’t done it already.’ I told him. I thought this was pretty clear. The play on words – ‘double check’ – and the inference that she may have done it already.

‘She hasn’t done it. She’s in hospital.’ He said. ‘I’ll get her to do it tomorrow so don’t cancel her policy.’

I repeated what I had said hoping he would understand the second time around. He didn’t. So I tried a more direct tactic. ‘You know that I can’t discuss the details with you, but if you listen closely to what I’m saying then you’ll see that I’m telling you something without giving you direct information.’

‘Ok.’ He seemed to understand this so I said it all over again.

‘Ok. I’ll get her to look through the cheque book.’ He said cautiously.

I left it there. I felt that I’d told him as much as I could without directly stating that it had been paid. I got the impression that he still didn’t understand what I was saying, but at least I got him to say that he would ask his friend to look through her cheque book before sending in another.


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