Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Say Goodbye And Then Hang Up

on October 13, 2014

For the first time in years I am living in a house that has a working telephone. There are probably benefits to this beyond a discount on the internet, but I am at a loss as to what those benefits might be. It is constantly ringing with incredibly rude and obnoxious sales people who just don’t get it.

I’ve spent enough years working in customer service to appreciate that it can be a demeaning and thankless job. I’ve had my share of hostile customers who don’t understand that I have a job to do and have not woken up in the morning with the specific goal of ruining their lives and general happiness. I’ve had to keep my cool when I want to tell someone my opinion because I also understand that when I am a customer service representative I am the face and voice of my employer in that moment.

Because I understand that customer service jobs aren’t as fun as the employment advertisements make them out to be, I try to be compassionate when I am dealing with customer service people. No matter what I am doing when they call me, I make sure I treat them like people. When they ask in their script how I am, I also ask how they are. This is a rare response, because almost every customer service representative I speak to is surprised and I am often told that I am the first person in the day to ask them. It costs me nothing to offer basic courtesies, but seems to make them happier.

Because I understand that customer service jobs aren’t always easy, I try to be polite when I reject their sales pitch. I don’t just tell them that I am uninterested in their product or service; I also take them time to tell them why. I understand that they have sales targets, and I understand that my call is going to be recorded for “quality and training purposes” so I want their managers to know that the lead was too cold to kindle.

Unfortunately there aren’t too many customer service representatives who call that understand this. This afternoon I had a call from a representative at Simply Energy. He asked for me by name, which means his company has bought my details from somewhere since I have never heard of his company before. He pushed his pitch, followed the script in detail, and came unstuck when I said “but I don’t have an electricity account with anyone at the moment.”

If I was the customer service representative at this point, I would have thanked the customer for their time and said goodbye. It is a polite way to end the call that does not alienate someone who has been polite to me. Instead there was just the sound of my phone beeping to indicate that he had hung up on me.

Clearly I was a dead lead for him today. But, just as clearly, I am a customer who has had an electricity account in the past, and I am probably a customer who will have an electricity account again in the future. And will I consider Simply Energy for my future electricity needs? Of course not, because they just interrupted my day and took the opportunity to be gratuitously rude.

I get hung up on a lot by customer service representatives that I make an effort to be polite to, and this time it got to me, so I decided to take the direct approach and I rang the company back. Their response was to leave me on hold for eight minutes before I got bored and hung up. To put that in perspective, their sales manager could have hung up on eight other customers in that time based on the length of my first call.

I’m not able to disconnect the phone in this house because the account isn’t in my name – although a few telemarketers seem to think it is – and I’m unable to add it to the Do Not Call register for the same reason. For now I am stuck taking these annoying calls, adding business after business to the list that I will make sure I never work with. I’d ask them to take me off their marketing list, but unfortunately they’ve already hung up.

Does this keep happening to anyone else, or is it just me? Which businesses haven’t taught their employees how to be polite while cold calling?

2 responses to “Say Goodbye And Then Hang Up

  1. I spent 3 years as customer service boy, with a company whose marketing department repeatedly fucked things up, and so I would bear the brunt of nasty customers. I was complimented by management that I did handle these enquiries well, but after years of being verbally abused, you to tend to think- enough is enough.
    I am currently going through my own awesomly bad customer service experience, as ME being the customer, and the representatives of the company not listening to me, and sending me sarcastic emails, written for a simpleton. But when I point out their emails are sarcastic, they feign innocence saying- we were being informative.
    Dude, customer service history; writer; kind of know whatthefuckIamtalkingabout.

    I get phone calls during the day, and they’re hang ups. The machines obvoiusly ring too many people for the number of call centre operators.

    My favourites are the companies who don’t want to sell me anything, but would I be happy to go door to door, and sell their raffle tickets. My responses have varied from time to time. I did ask once for a uniform, because if I was going to represent them, I should have a uniform. I also asked if they would pay me for my time. And also- what happens if I give out all the raffle tickets, as a charity, to spread the word about how awesome you are? But no money changes hands?

    That is not allowed.

    Oh, so your ‘happy’ request for me, to give up my time to annoy people, on your behalf, has terms and conditions now, eh?

    • The computer calls where they hang up annoy me too, but at least the computer has enough manners to say goodbye! It’s a sad day for the customer service world when an automated caller is less irritating than your staff.

      I don’t think good customer service is a particularly difficult thing to achieve. Unfortunately very few people seem to recognise the relationship building aspect that is critical in not getting discussions like this happening on the internet.

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