Some thoughts from your friendly call center customer service rep

Yep, that’s my job. I sit in a warren of cubicles, answering calls all day long, and trying my best to help people. I would say that the vast majority of people I talk to are wonderful, but there are some who just drive me up a wall. I was originally going to make a top 10 list, but then I realized that I had way more than 10, so this is just a list in random order. And yes, every single one of the calls I’m describing below has happened to me within the past week. Ready?

  1. Clients will call and ask that we correct some wrong information on another company’s website. This is usually because we have active partner agreements with them, so the consumer thinks we must be the same company and can therefore happily change their website because they don’t like something on it.
  2. People who dial a wrong number (Southwest Airlines has a phone number one digit off from us, as does Transamerica) so we get wrong numbers. You’d think that they’d figure this one out by the hold music and the introduction when they call in, but no, they don’t. When I tell them they’ve reached a wrong number, they ask if I can help them anyway. Sorry, I can’t change your flight for you.
  3. Clients who eat, drink, burp, etc. in your ear while conversing with you. This just should not have to be explained. Manners, people! Either learn how to use a mute button, or wait until after lunch is over before calling.
  4. Clients who call up to discuss an issue or get clarification on something, and in the middle of the call, suddenly start doing something else; yelling at the kids, discussing something with their husband (or wife), taking another call on a different line. If you want your problem resolved, you should focus on the task at hand. Unless your kids are setting the kitchen on fire. Then you probably shouldn’t be calling us right then.
  5. Clients who don’t have their information when calling regarding their policies. I have always made sure that I had a policy or account number ready when I’ve called for customer assistance, because I don’t want to play 20 questions with some poor, underpaid customer service rep who needs to locate your information in their computer system before they can help you.
  6. Clients who call, and as soon as I answer, they ask if I can hold and switch to another line (usually without waiting for an answer). Again, this is self explanatory. If you have a problem you need solved, focus on one thing at a time and don’t try to multitask. You’re liable to get hung up on if you don’t come back on the line soon enough. I probably have another 10-15 clients who also need help and are waiting on the line for it.
  7. Clients who argue with me regarding our policies. If I’ve just told you that there is no possible way I can do X and it’s clearly written in the terms and conditions of the policy, don’t get angry at me when I tell you repeatedly that it’s just not possible. We send out those descriptions of coverage for a reason. They’re extremely boring legalese, but if you have enough brains to book a vacation, you should be able to read a policy.
  8. Clients who want me to discuss their specific policy and whether something would be covered or not, but refuse to give any information, so I have no idea of which policy to discuss with them. We sell about 300 different policies. Would you like me to discuss all of them with you?
  9. Clients who are calling from their cell phones in a bad reception area, or in an otherwise noisy place, and get upset when I tell them that I cannot hear them, or that they are breaking up and I have to ask them to repeat everything several times. I understand that the signal at my house isn’t always the greatest, but I do try to make sure that I have full bars and that it’s quiet when I’m making calls.
  10. Clients who hand up on you mid-sentence. Do I need to go into further detail on this?
  11. People who call because something has already happened and they want to know if they can purchase insurance now, or if it would have been covered if they had purchased the insurance earlier. The second part doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the first part. Do you think your auto insurance company would be pleased with you for crashing your car and then changing your policy (or buying insurance after the fact)? I’ll still sell you the policy, but I’m going to advise you that the policy won’t provide coverage, so you’re basically just giving us your money for no return value. I wish I were rich enough to do this and not care (okay, not really. I’m much too practical for that.)
  12. Clients who call to find out what their policy number is, because they somehow misplaced it, and when you start to tell them, they tell you to hold on so they can find a pen and paper. Shouldn’t you have had that before you started the call?
  13. Clients calling to find out the status of their claim, and I’m unable to help them because their claim rep is unavailable and I can’t see what the status is on the claim, or it’s a complicated claim that I don’t feel comfortable giving out information that may be incorrect.
  14. Anyone who starts swearing at me because I’m not giving them the answers that they want to hear. This is especially frustrating when it’s a simple solution, but they won’t stop cursing to allow me to explain what they need to do to resolve the problem. And finally…..
  15. Clients who call to advise there has been a severe illness or death in the family and it turns out that their “family member” is their pet dog or cat. I empathize with you. I am very attached to my cat, and I do consider him to be part of my family, but I also understand that pets are not considered family under our definition of a family member.

Now, obviously, most of these are geared towards my current job and may not be relevant to other call centers, but the same principles apply; be prepared to write down anything and everything on the paper you have in front of you with the pen you know works, ask nicely if something can be done instead of yelling at me that I’m going to do it for them because they deserve it, pay attention to what your customer service rep is saying, and if you don’t understand their answer, ask for more information and clarification, it will probably save you further trouble. Realize that the person on the phone is there to help you, and that being rude or accusatory is not the best way to get things resolved. Be nice, we’ll help you if you let us and it’s at all feasible.

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I am perfectly imperfect

As a single woman, I have a deep loathing for St Valentine’s Day. I prefer to think of it as my late Uncle Ronnie’s birthday and then treat it as any other normal day.

Remember back in elementary school, when we had to give a Valentine’s Day card to every other kid in the class, whether you liked them (as a person) or not? I’m pretty sure that 6th grade was the last time I received a Valentine’s Day card. It shouldn’t matter, since it’s a Hallmark holiday and not really celebrating anything except to divide those who have someone in their life with the rest of us.

I’ve been told that I’m pretty, I’ve been told that I’m smart, I’ve been told that I’m kind and thoughtful and fun to be around, and then I get stuffed into what is so commonly known as “the friendzone.” I’m not dating material. I have more medical problems than some nursing homes. I prefer the company of my cat to that of most people. My ideal “night out” is being at home with a good book these days, since I can’t actually go out and do anything right now.

The strange thing is, I’m okay with that. Relationships tend to end badly for me, in either one of two ways: violence or apathy. Thankfully, it’s usually apathy. I’m an easy girlfriend to lose interest in, because I am  who I say I am. I don’t try to impress people with pretending to be interested in things that I’m not, and I’m not afraid to call bullshit on someone who is trying to impress me when they don’t know what they’re talking about. I know I’m generalizing here, but men aren’t interested in finding a woman who is exactly what they’re looking for. No matter what they say or think, they always want to fix whatever they think is broken about you, or change you to better fit whatever “ideal” mold they have designed in their mind.

I’ve discovered it’s easier to just not get involved with anyone. I like who I am, most of the time. I’m weird, I’m eclectic, I enjoy having crazy colored hair, I think a good book is better company than most people (especially those who watch any sort of “reality” TV), I get a stupid grin on my face every time I see my car because it reminds me that I can be me instead of who I’m expected to be. I’m not perfect, but I’m perfectly me. I like me.

My birthday has come and gone

Considering that I “did nothing” special this year, it was still one of the best birthdays because my family & friends all chipped in & made sure that I felt special.

I’ve reached the point in my life that dependable friends & family are way more important than presents (although the surprise gift card capped a great day).

I’m still trying to figure out my direction in life, and a lot of that has to do with waiting endlessly for updates on my knee. At this rate, it will be September again before it all gets sorted. I’m not in a hurry anymore. I’m not anxious to escape San Diego at first opportunity as I had been. Instead, I’ve applied my adoption cat philosophy, with a twist. Instead of “the right cat will find you at the right time” I’m thinking that “the right opportunity will present itself at the right time” and until it does, I’ll just keep on being the best me I can be in a city I’m not fond of, but where I happen to be.

Happiness is what you make of it, and I’m determined to be happy, despite all my recent problems & setbacks. Shikata ga nai. If you can’t change it, don’t worry over it.

39 will be a good year for me.

A story of Munchie

When I was 19 years old, I was dating a guy named David who lived in North Park. There was a pet store in the shopping center by his house, and I went in one day to see the kittens. There were kittens in two cages; little kittens that were between six and eight weeks old, and another cage of kittens that were over 4 months old. I was playing with a cute little brown tabby in the “older kitten” cage when the clerk asked me, “Do you want to take him?” I said that I was just playing and that I wasn’t really looking for a cat. She said that the three kittens that were in the older kitten cage were going to be sent back to the breeder and euthanized or used as breeders if they didn’t get sold, so if I wanted the kitten that I was playing with, I could just take him, because she’d rather write him off as a loss than have him put down or have to live in a breeding facility. She came open and opened the cage and handed him to me and said, “If you want him, just go, and give him a good life.” So I took him.

I brought him home to mom’s house and explained what happened and asked if we could keep him (as every child has done to their parent(s) at one time or another). I told her what the pet store lady had said to me about him being euthanized or forced to breed. She agreed that we’d keep him. Since I wasn’t planning on getting a cat, I didn’t have any cat stuff for him, he just came home with a paper collar that said “Kitten #49” on it. So, his name ended up being Mr Joe Montana Cat, less formally as either Montana or Munchie. I don’t remember how it morphed to Munchie, but I think it probably had to do with his eating habits. He liked to eat, and ended up as a healthy 19 pounder at the height of his life.

I ended up moving out and moving on, and Munchie stayed with mom. He had a calm and sweet disposition and loved to cuddle with his buddy Mumbles (whom I had also brought home as a stray, a year or so later). He and Mumbles were so close as to be considered brothers; they were inseparable until Mumbles came down with kidney disease and eventually had to be put down in 2010. Munchie mourned the loss of his brother and never quite got over it. In the past couple years,  he’s been fighting his own health battles, and today we’re taking him to be put down. He’s tired of fighting and it’s time to let go.

I like to think that I provided him with the good life that the pet store woman asked of me. He had a home, a brother, a sister, a caretaker who loved him dearly, plenty of food and water, and lots of love. He was a good cat.