Apparently my order was smashed beyond recognition two weeks ago. A day after it left the warehouse it had been so badly damaged in Texas that it was deemed undeliverable. I would never have known except that I happened to check on its progress. That’s fine, I suppose, but I had to call Customer Service this morning and I don’t particularly enjoy that.

I used to have a lot more sympathy for people in this profession before I began to do it myself.

There is this widespread idea that it’s the other person’s job to ask the right questions. There is an equally widespread idea that the other person should know the specific differences between themselves and others who do the same things. Moreover, there is an assumption made about anyone who doesn’t jump through the hoops just right: You’re stupid and unreasonable and being downright impossible.

This goes both ways so that the caller and the answerer both are refusing to give adequate information to make any sort of headway and both are getting increasingly angry. Both are beginning to resent the other and as a result dig in their heels and further refuse to give away any useful information.

You may now be asking yourself why my mind has changed against Customer Service Agents. This is a fair question since you’ve surely gathered by now that I am a CSR myself.

It would do you some good to know that I used to see CSRs as abused peons. I assumed they were people who were yelled at daily for things that were not their fault and they had no power to correct.

I have come to realise that 1) we always have options and 2) they assume you’re a jerk before you even start. However, before those intangible things occurred to me, I came to the realisation that the answerer is always the one with the answers. I’m in insurance. Insurance is the world’s most confusing, hated thing of all time. How dare we assume that people should read their contracts and understand it? We wouldn’t read all 1502 pages of the Healthy America thing and be ready for a money-on-the-line quiz, now would we.

The CSR does have the answers, if not personally then at least from a neighbor, and sometimes they still just wait for you to make the first move. I’m sorry, fellow CSRs, but if these callers knew what we know then we’d be out of a job.

Yes, our job is hard sometimes. Yes, people yell at us for no reason sometimes. And, yes, you’ve just answered this question for the 50th time today. People assume we are stupid or destitute or foreign, but here’s a novel idea. Take care in your work and do what you can to ease that notion of what you do. Sow kindness and reap the same.

You insane creatures.

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