Thursday, June 12, 2008
Working in a call-centre based industry is probably more common than most people want to admit. From what I've seen, the biggest advantage is the endless supply of material that should one day become the basis for a very successful Fringe Festival play. The only problem is, few people will believe that it could possibley be true. here's a few examples and you tell me if you think things like this can exist outside of a Dilbert cartoon.
Episode 1-Stressed for success. A supervisor is told by a Manager that his call centre representative is supposed to dial through a certain group of phone numbers on a certain project, in this case, attain a dialing rate of 40 numbers per hour. Now, normally, one dials phone numbers on a project in order to contact people, which this call centre rep. did. In fact, the rep. was quite good at their job, and was able to make a number of successful calls in this time. However, since successful calls actually slow down the dialing rate, the rep. didn't manage to dial those 40 numbers that were asked for. I think yo know what came next...the Supervisor was scolded for NOT DIALING THE 40 NUMBERS. "What went wrong?" the Manager asked. "We were successful" the Supervisor explained. "Well..." the Manager mused "you should have called the numbers"
Episode 2-What's the message. Call centre staff can call into an office voice-mail to communicate any attendance issues. The voice-mail message begins by saying...."don't leave a message....call back later to speak to someone". This is a rather lengthy message, and most people hang up before they hear the proviso "UNLESS...you are calling early in the morning for the daytime shift" Daytime representatives were calling the attendance line, hearing the first part of the recording, and not leaving messages. The solution to the problem? The unimaginative would say something ridiculously simple like....CHANGE THE MESSAGE!!! But no, this is a business. The centre spent weeks re-training their reps to ....IGNORE THE MESSAGE.
Episode 3-Don't go breakin' my heart. Staffing a call centre is always a difficult task, as the work tends to be repetitive and staff turnover is ridiculously high. So when a big project comes in, the push to "ramp up" quickly always causes some panicky and irational. There was the project where we "NEEDED" 20 people a day to call through "20,000" phone numbers. We ramped. We trained. We somehow found 20 bodies to call on the project. When it was finally launched.....oops, did I say 20,000?? I meant 2,000.(This from a 'senior" staff member) Of course there's always the "hours blitz", to try to encourage staff to add and extend their shifts, only to be told part way through that they are no longer needed. Finally there's the "bonus frenzy". wherein Supervisors earn their annual bonus through encouraging staff to add or extend their shifts. the most recent one was announced tothe Supervisors like this. Management: We're going to start our "bonus frenzy", so for the next little while you'll need to really encourage staff to add shifts" Supervisors: "great, when does it start?" Management: "TWO DAYS AGO"!!!!