Customer service

I can't wait.

I can’t wait.

Imma nah let you in on a little background information. A prequel of this blog if you will. It’s kind of in the about page, if you haven’t read that, but the whole reason I started this blog 4 years ago, was because of my bitterness working in customer service. I kind of moved into a role where there is less answering of phones, which drive me pretty close to insane, but every now and then, I get reintroduced into the bitter world of answering the phones all day. When four people are gone from your “crew” in one day, you get volunteered to do all the phone calls. There are worse jobs in the world, I suppose, but on the other hand, I’ve never seen more people quit a job after three days than I have seen quit customer service/telemarketing. It is a grind. I want to use a metaphor/simile/parable to explain what a day in customer service can be like. I know this is all going to get way absurd, but that’s how ridiculous I am and the way customer service can be too. So just deal.

They all want a piece and you have to pretend like you are totally excited about it.

They all want a piece and you have to pretend like you are totally excited about it.

Imagine if you will being a parent. And imagine that you live in a really big house that stretches a couple of blocks and have say 50-500 kids, and potentially every single one of them could call you. All across this house, they all have phones and they have needs. You sit down everyday in a chair with a computer and a phone. You have your regular duties like giving them back money for your grocery store order mess ups, or when they order food and you don’t have any in the fridge and you finally get the grocery order in, you have to release their food and have it shipped to them. Kind of have the picture? Me neither, but let’s move on.

Early in the morning, whether you like it or not, at 7 am, the phone queue is open. Some of your kids are so far on the other side of the mansion, that they are on east coast time and for them it’s 10 am and they are hungry. So they’ve had to wait until 10 am to call, and are as impatient as a rhino when they hear dinner is served.

Kid #1: Hi, this is Tropikid from the New York side of the mansion. Can you check on my grocery order? I ordered it 5 days ago and it hasn’t arrived.

BitterDad: Uh, sure, do you have a grocery order number I can look up?

Kid #1: Oh, yeah, I probably should have had that ready. Flips through things, rustles up some papers. Uh, no sorry. Can you just look under my account?

BitterDad: sighs to himself, but pretends like it’s not a big deal. No problem. What is your account number?

Kid #1: Uh, I forgot. Can you look that up for me?

BitterDad: Rolls eyes. Through gritted teeth. Well, I’m not supposed to do this, but what is the name of your account?

Kid #1: Um, Kid #1.

BitterDad: Okay, let me put you on hold and I’ll look it up. 5 minutes later waiting for computer to come up with the right number and deducing that the order was from 5 days ago, So, just to verify, was it 2 bags of cotton candy, 4 Lifesavers, a King Sized Snickers bar, and some salad?

Kid #1: Oh, you know what? The order just showed up. Thanks for looking anyways!

BitterDad: Have a great day! sarcastically

Finally done with the first call, BitterDad, checks his email and realizes he has 4 new things that are marked !!!, and he needs to get to them right away, but phone queue lights up and they are always priority.

Kid #2: I’d like to place a grocery order.

BitterDad: Alright could I get your account #?

Kid #2: I don’t have it.

BitterDad: Okay, well when you find it, call me back.

Kid #2: Wait, wait, wait, I think I have it. Is it 1?

BitterDad: Nope.

Kid #2: 2?

BitterDad: You can’t guess. You need to know it.

Kid #2: Can you just look it up?

BitterDad: Through gritted teeth. Sure, just give me one second. Okay what is your grocery order number?

Kid #2: You pick.

BitterDad: Through even more gritted teeth,  Okay, how about the date.

Kid #2: I might not remember that.

BitterDad: Okay moving on. What groceries do you need?

Kid #2: Oh, sorry, I forgot my list. Can I call you back?

BitterDad: Grinding gums now, because teeth are all grinded out. No problem, have a great day, kid.

It’s 7:15 am! Yeah, only 7 hours and 45 minutes left! 

Now imagine this all through the day, same 5 requests, varying levels of annoying things happening. Sometimes calls go longer, sometimes calls start overlapping, so you can’t devote the time to one kid that you need to, because one is waiting in line for your help. Some talk slower and need you to be patient. Others talk fast and need you to keep up. Some ask you for things you can’t do on the phone right now, and some ask for information you don’t have so you need to ask someone else and get back to them. Others, need attention right now, but can’t give you the info so you have to read their minds.

And some decide that just before your beloved break from the phones, your lunch time, they need to call you and talk to you for 5 minutes about nothing, while your lunch time is grinding away.

And don’t you dare speak an unkind word or pretend you are anything but overjoyed that they called, because they are your kids, and your kids are ALWAYS right. And they should be treated with the respect of angels, even though they act like devils. Because you should be lucky you are even a parent, and you get paid to smile and parent them.

ARRRGGGHHHH

Bitter Bittermer Service Ben

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104 thoughts on “Customer service

  1. Omg. You are freaking hilarious. I only walked out on two jobs in my life. One was making fishing bobbers in a warehouse. For 8 HOURS I dipped 2 pieces of plastic in a tray of Glue, ( breathing ungodly fumes all day [not the fun kind]) stuck them together and threw them in a bin. I was 18. I lasted 2 weeks. The other was outbound telemarketing. Horrible, horrible job. I had a tension headache for several weeks. After reading the ridiculous script (which assumes the person on the other end has the IQ of an amoeba) I just talked to them like I would a regular, y’know, intelligent person. I made the sale! But then I was reprimanded for not following the script. I was told on training that if this wan’t my cup of tea, if I wasn’t having FUN (FUN)?!? To just let the manager know. Which was management speak for: if you aren’t meeting your quota, you’re FIRED. So I raised my hand to get the manager’s attention and said, “Bob? I’m not having FUN anymore”. I walked out. Bob didn’t stop me. God bless telemarketers. They are brave, brave people.

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    • I did telemarketing for two years. Sometimes when I got on a call, I got upset when I actually got someone to agree on buying something, because then I had to go through the whole script and talk more. Ever since, I’ve been in customer service and let me just tell you, talking on the phone steals my soul every day. I keep trying to escape it and just when I try to leave it pulls me back in Godfather style. Thanks for sharing your bitter experiences. It helps feed my bitter soul.

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  2. This was wonderfully entertaining, and probably a lot more true to life than most of us want to admit.

    Yesterday, I actually became a much lesser version of myself (while apologizing to the poor rep on the other end of the phone) when I called to question a new bill from my HMO. Speaking of which, Ben, can you come up with a better name for HMO, using the letters HMO? In my opinion, HMO’s are just a way for the selfishly super-rich to legally gouge money from the naive. Here’s what happened: a few weeks ago, I found myself unable to breathe one night and upped the grapefruit and garlic to fight a virus that I was sure was either “Hanta-Virus” or something equally dire. I did not dare go to the ER for fear of a fatal grapefruit/pharmaceutical reaction. Believe it or not, this is a lot more common than people think. Not wanting to infect anyone at my part-time fast-food job, I called in sick. Then a couple of days later, when I could breathe again but still had not fully recovered, I called in sick again. And was informed that without a doctor’s excuse, I would be written up. Because my family and I treat almost everything at home, we don’t have a regular doctor. Or I could have just called for an excuse. Instead, I ended up at an urgent care place, where I dutifully paid the $50 co-pay they demanded. I waited 30 minutes. Then was seen by a sick, apathetic doctor who shouldn’t have even been there in the first place. Judging just her behavior, I’m not fully convinced she was a real doctor. We visited for less than 10 minutes, while she told me I was not really sick, and that I really should go to my job in the fast-food business the next day. I told her I didn’t want pharmaceuticals because of the potential reaction with the grapefruit. This was her solution: “If you wait a couple or maybe three days, you can probably safely take [insert name of pharmaceutical] and be good to go back to work tomorrow.” — Excuse me??? But apparently that was not enough of an insult to my intelligence. This week, we got a bill stating that we owe them another $20. I know for a fact that they did no lab work, and that no follow-up care was given at any time later. When I spoke to a poor, overworked woman in customer service, I was told that since my family and I had not “reached our co-pay deductible”, that they basically had the right to charge us any additional charges they wanted. I found myself saying slowly and loudly (just in case this was being recorded), “DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT EVEN THOUGH MY HUSBAND PAYS $10,000.00 PER YEAR FOR HEALTH INSURANCE FOR OUR FAMILY, WE HAVE TO PAY EVEN MORE TO USE IT? i WOULD RATHER JUST HAVE THE MONEY!!!!!!”
    We live in a sad, sorry world. Looks like customer service problems are here to stay. But if HMO’s as we know them, with their rich doctors, rich pharmaceutical reps, expensive buildings, and corporate jets were to go the way of the dinosaur, I would be a little happier.

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    • I could come up with a thousand names better than HMO. And medical care is a joke. I’m shocked that you got in within a half hour in an urgent care. I’ve been there when they told me I would have to wait 6 hours. How could they even call that “urgent care” and actual doctors rarely exist at an urgent care facility. It’s always the customer service people that get thrown under the bus, because they take all the crap that the lawyers and doctors mess up and get the screaming people that were screwed over royally by them and they have to repeat the phrases you were told by them, because that is all they can legally say. They can’t tell you sorry about that, or offer you free medical care for a year. All they can do is listen to people swear and scream at them for things other people did to them. UGGH, the worst.

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  3. Oooh you have a tough job 😕
    Electrical Lord has a call center, hotline, customer service and all other rubbishy numbers and it is awful! 4 years!! Keep blogging Bitter Ben and share more anecdotes of calls😉

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    • The bitterness is strong with this one. I have so many bitter calls that I can’t even list them all. And to be honest, they are pretty much all the same. Same things going wrong, same solution, just having to hear it over and over again is like people having to read my blog over and over again.

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  4. I have to say, there is *no* job worse in the world than answering phones. I’d rather rescue a stray skunk from a tree, or clean up after an elephant that had chili for dinner, or even drop-kick a hornets nest with no shoes on — anything other than answering the phone. (Not that any of those are actual jobs, per se, but in this economy, you have to be creative.)

    Nothing sucks the levity from my soul than the petrifying sound of a ringing phone. You never know what diabolical miscreant is going to be unleashed on you. Every time the phone rings, I let out a long, dramatic sigh and give a dramatic eye-roll. The second and third rings only delay the inevitable torture I’ll soon suffer. And by the fourth ring, I resign myself to picking up the receiver and facing my cruel and desolate fate.

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    • Yep, nothing can ruin a day faster than a phone call from someone that not only needs something collassal fixed, but needs it now and won’t take no for an answer and that takes all day to fix. Jerks, have no idea that a bitter soul is on the other line and will go to the ends of the earth to get their revenge. Cause we’ve got caller ID.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whenever I have receptionist temp jobs, it amazes me how there is always one jerk that has to make some comment about how I should know what I’m doing super fast and right away even though I’ve only been a temp at that place for that one day. Like I’m supposed to know everything within a day? I’ve tried all kinds of sympathy tactics, but they just want act like a superior buttface. I hate people that are rude for no reason.

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    • I know. Really some people think that it is their job to be the company jerkface, but they don’t understand that don’t get paid for that. I do volunteer to be the company bitterman though, and do it bitterly, and complain that I don’t get paid more to do it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m talking about the people that call in. The “customers” or clients or sometimes it’s salespeople which makes me laugh, but there is usually a jerkface in the office as well. I like the bitter people, we get along.

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        • Yeah, the jerkfaces that just don’t care if you are new, are the worst. I mean get mad inside like I do, but don’t take it out on a newby. Yeah, me and the other bitters get along, because we like to complain about the same things.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. There should be national awards given for anyone who has to do business with “the public” by phone. This following is a conversation I have at least four times a day with people:

    Me: What date where you married?
    Person: Hmm it was about a year after my son was born.
    Me: Okay that’s not really a date, but how old is your son?
    Person: Well he’s about three years older than my youngest daughter.
    Me: Do you know how old your daughter is?
    Person: I think like 22 or 40.
    Me: Okay That is not really helpful. Do you know how old you were when you got married?
    Person: Yeah I think it was about five years after my first marriage.
    Me: That’s not an age. I thought you said you weren’t married before.
    Person: Yeah but I don’t count that one.
    Me: Was the marriage annulled?
    Person: a-what?
    Me: Then marriage counts. We’ll come back to that one.
    Me: Let’s try again; I’d like to ask you for a date in time and you give me a numerical answer that can be plotted on a calendar, NOT just a point of reference in your own personal history. So, keeping that in mind – WHEN were you married.
    Person: Maryland. We were married in Maryland . . . I think.

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    • Isn’t that the truth. I refuse to answer the phone at home, because then I will have to talk to people. And the worst is when a telemarketer calls me and I have to try to be nice. (Which I give up on and just start being mean.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You know, there was one time I got a little irritated with customer service after being on hold for thirty minutes, but we got past it pretty quickly, and by the end of the conversation, I got the distinct impression that the customer service guy was flirting with me. It was a bit odd, but hey, I’ll take it!

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  8. Wow! This is a perfect scenario explaining what those of us in CS deal with. I hate my name now. When I hear it I throw up a little in my mouth. Then you come home and you have your family that wants pieces of you too. LOL Great post Ben!

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  9. 16 years of bitter phone work under my belt, Ben, so I totally get it.

    Me: Mrs. Jones, your CT scan was abnormal. The doctor wants to see you Thursday at 2:00 to go over the results.
    Mrs. Jones: I better write that down, let me get some paper and a pen.
    5 minutes later…
    Mrs. Jones: Oh dear, this pen isn’t working… I’ll have to find another one.
    5 minutes after that…
    Mrs. Jones: I can’t seem to find another one. Can you just call me right back and leave the information on my answering machine?
    Me: (gritting teeth) Sure, no problem.
    I call back and it rings twice
    Mrs. Jones: Hello!
    Me: Mrs. Jones, you were supposed to let the machine pick up!
    Mrs. Jones: Oops, silly me. Can you try it one more time? I promise I won’t pick up.
    Me: One more time, you got it.
    I call back and after ten rings, a recording tells me I have reached a voicemail that has not been set up yet. Dementia patients are awesome!

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  10. i had a job like that, not too long ago, really.
    i’m leaving that job, and i sus/ex/pect(orate) my life, and attitood towards thingies, won’t change.
    maybe (with less luck than i’ve recently been undeservedly getting) i’ll get bitterererrrr ~

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  11. Haha, does it make you happier when I say working in a store isn’t all that, either? That you encounter the same dumb and annoying people, but then in real life? And that, when that happens, you don’t even get to grind your teeth?

    I am always on my best behaviour when I call any customer service 0:) But I am OCD’ed, so that might be why. In fact, I think I’m usually more on it than anyone handling my accounts… I think I need help D:

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    • Pretty much any interacting with people I would consider some form of customer service and they both have their downs. In person, you definitely have to fake that smile and just hope they don’t endanger your life if you tell them no.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Major bitterness inducing experience . My solution is to put the customer on hold until they give up and go away feeling extremely bitter. Might as well pass it on!:D

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  13. Haha. I enjoyed this. I am the Customer Support Manager at my company and, by some miracle, we haven’t had an agent quit yet. But some days are pretty unbearable!

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  14. I got fired from my telemarketing job after four days because I couldn’t make a sale to save my life. But it’s okay because now I get to work in a restaurant where I deal with hungry, angry, entitled people who blame me for everything and anything wrong in their lives when their food isn’t on time/what they expected/good enough/etc.

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    • Yeah, they can be brutal. And customer service in all its forms is brutal.
      I can’t even imagine how horrible people are to you. And then not giving a tip after all of your kindness. That’s why I always tip really well, to make up for the jerks that are jerks and don’t tip well.

      Liked by 1 person

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