I’m another long time lurker first time poster, and firstly just wanted to say a huge thank you for existing and making each day just that little bit brighter.
Even though I’m no longer in Retail Hell myself, most of my working life has been spent behind a headset in a call centre, so I’ve seen my share of Customer Service Hell. You name it I’ve done it, from telemarketing to debt collecting, and now in customer service for a glorified accounting firm specialising in a niche area of legal tax evasion. Feel free to call me Phone Monkey, as that is what I feel like most days.
I have only been at the current company for a few months, having had to take a demotion of sorts to go ‘work for the enemy’ as a result of prolonged bullying and harassment at my previous firm bordering on emotional abuse. I swear some offices can be more bitchy and catty than high school, but that is a story for another day.
Consequently, even though I have only been in this position for a few months, I have been in the industry for over two years, and know my way around this area of Australian tax law.
I’ll try to keep this first post as free from tales of woe as I can, as I just wanted to share with you all a number of simple rules I wish all custys would read before picking up their phones:
1. When I ask for your name at the beginning of the call it’s because I don’t know who you are, and I’m using the simplest way possible of locating your account. I’ve lost hope that you may actually have your account number on you, and so have given up asking for it. As such your name is how I’ll find you. So please don’t mumble. If you have a name that’s not Smith, or you have a standard name with funky spelling for god’s sake don’t be offended, or treat me like a moron when I ask you how to spell it. And if English isn’t your first language and your name is more than twelve characters long please don’t rattle off the spelling at a speed so fast it would make the Flash feel emasculated. There’s no way I can possibly interpret your jumble of noises as anything intelligible and it will only slow things down as I will just have to ask you to spell it again slowly.
2. I open the call with my name. It’s part of the standard greeting. Please don’t abuse your name privileges by using it like I’m a friend, using it to patronise me, or repeating it over and over when you don’t get the answer you want. And please don’t, like a custy yesterday, respond to my greeting by yelling ‘WHO ARE YOU?’ If you didn’t catch my name, that’s fine, and I’m happy to repeat it should you ask nicely. But if you yell at me two seconds into the phonecall I’ll be dammed if I’m telling you my real name. For the rest of this conversation all you’ll know me as is ‘Roger’ (and yes, I am a girl).
3. If you have a common name I may have to ask additional information in order to find your account. ‘Yes’ is not an appropriate answer to the question ‘Who is your employer?’
4. This is not a simple service we are providing. If it was your employer would be handling it directly for you, not outsourcing it to a company specialising in this particular area of tax legislation. If you don’t even know how much you earn an hour, a week, or a year (just one, give me something to work with here), then I really can’t help you, and perhaps this isn’t for you.
We try and make it as simple as possible, with as few forms as possible, and we do most of the legwork for you. But, we are not financial advisors, nor are we licensed as such. I can tell you the options available, I can’t make your decisions for you, nor tell you what you should do. If at the end of all that then you still don’t know what you want to do then please, go see a financial advisor and let them make your decisions for you, as you clearly shouldn’t be allowed to make them for yourself.
5. If you really can’t speak English, then again, maybe this isn’t for you. We don’t have an interpreting service, all of our setups and changes are done over the phone, and if it takes fifteen minutes to determine your name and where you work then I can’t in all conscience sign you up, as I know there’s not a cold chance in hell that you’ll have any idea what you’re doing, and this will bring nothing, but frustration to the both of us. Unfortunately,I’m not allowed to not sign you up, so I’ll just send you all the paperwork and hope it’s so overwhelming that you decide not to go ahead with it.
6. As I said earlier, this isn’t a simple service, most people have never heard of it, of those that have 80% have no idea how it works, and those that think they do are often wrong, including your colleague/spouse/friend who told you how it all works. That’s why I’m here. To help you understand, and help when things go wrong. If you ask me a question, listen to the answer I give you. Don’t talk over me, or interrupt me. It’s rude, pointless, and leaves you just as ignorant as you were before asking.
7. I don’t care how important you think you are, yelling at me because you don’t understand something isn’t going to make it any clearer for you. I’ll also feel much much less inclined to help you understand.
8. If you swear at me, I will give you one warning. If you don’t heed my warning I will hang up on you.
9. If you don’t like the answer I’m giving you, phrasing the question twelve different ways isn’t going to make the answer any different. Neither will the answer change if you call back in five minutes and speak to one of my colleagues. You’re just wasting your time and ours, and you look like a douche for doing so.
10. We don’t make up the rules and substantiation requirements for shits and giggles. We have to act within tax law and employer regulations, we’re not just doing it to be mean. No, we’re not just going to send you tax-free money without appropriate documentation, and lying on the forms constitutes tax fraud.
11. Good manners and general niceness will get you everywhere. If you are nice to me I will jump through hoops to ensure everything goes well for you. I will stay past my finish time, wreck my stats and beg my manager to waive deadlines and fees if that’s what it takes. I’ll even give you my direct line or email address so if things go wrong I can fix it for you. But, if you’re nasty and entitled all you’re going to get from me is a brick wall or an empty dial tone. I am not paid enough to put up with your shit.
12. I know no one hates talking or listening to computers, but the IVR is there for a reason. We have many different departments and products, and the menu at the start of the call is there to ensure you get directed to someone who can actually help you. It’s no use mashing numbers wildly and then yelling your story at the first person you speak to because chances are, if you can’t listen, you will not be in the right department and will have to be transferred to some other unfortunate minion and repeat your tale all over again. Redundant much.
13. I am not a mind reader. I do not magically know who you are, what you want , or how much you pay in rent. Please do try to at least think about being organised before picking up the phone. Please.
14. I work in an area of finance with super strict privacy laws. If you are not listed as authorised on an account I will not speak with you. Not even hypothetically. I don’t care if you are their husband/wife, how long you’ve been married, or how much of a disgrace you think it is that I won’t break privacy laws even a little bit for you. I’m not going to risk my job and a $250,000 fine just because you want unauthorised access to your alleged spouse’s financial information. I don’t care if you find that inconvenient, and yelling at me isn’t going to change the law. For fuck’s sake, the laws are there for your own protection.
I could go on, but I think that’s long enough for now, and it’s time for me to go back to work. Next time I’ll share some of my true horror stories, from both custys and former hellish co-workers (fortunately my new manager is wonderful and is the reason I keep coming back for more each day).
Thanks for calling,
--Phone Monkey xox