The new “call center”
Once upon a time, there were these things we knew as “call centers.”
I worked in one…for 4 days…between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So many fluorescent lights! The constant rumble of noise! A clock in front of my eyes with a big red line saying, “You’ve been on the phone too long, dummy,” and whadda ya got?
A giant honking headache.
I had a rotary phone on a hook, an ancient computer, and a keyboard. When there were no calls, I was typing into the computer hundreds of addressed that had been mailed into the company.
Calls came in waves, and we knew when we had to be on alert — whenever the ads were on TV, 200 phones started ringing all at once!
Older people wanted to be nice and talk about the weather which — when you’re inside a huge warehouse cubbyhole — is the last thing you care about.
The day I walked into the managers office and said, “I can’t do this any longer,” I was afraid I’d be fired. Not a good look on any resume. He smiled — and thanked me for my service. He said my check would be in the mail, and a week later it arrived just in time the buy the kids their Christmas presents.
Fast forward from the late 1970’s…
Yesterday I forgot my password and I was locked out of my account, so I called tech support for a local bank. Waiting for 10 minutes is ominous while a mechanical voice says “please continue to hold” every 10 seconds, then…
…when I answered the phone, a rooster crowed in the background.
A woman with a VERY strong accent answered the phone and asked for my card number.
My first thought? “What the hell does she think I am…daft?”
Who answers the phone…with an almost unintelligible accent…on a chicken farm…asks for your bank card number, name and date of birth…and expects you to give it to her?
When a man came into her office (if one existed), she immediately disconnected.
So…I called again and waited another 10 minutes.
Who did I get? The same person. This time, the man in her office was whistling. Ambient sounds faded away when she said, “Thank you for your information. You can now used the password I provided…”
After paying the bill on-line, changing my password and closing the system down, I thought about a woman trying so hard to do a good job.
I wanted to hit the b@$!ard trying to get her fired…
…and the rooster? He’d make a fine stew.