The Showdown


The atmosphere at work is very strange ever since the cut in hours was announced. Morale is the lowest I have known it not helped in the slightest by the oppressive workload. Defections continue and rumour has it that one of the supervisors will be the next to depart. They’d been slogging out a 50 hour week so were particularly hit hard by the blanket 20% cut.

One thing which hasn’t helped is my managers lack of tact. Not long after the cut in our hours came into effect, many of us still wondering how we would survive, we were handed a memo imploring us to work harder as we were now dropping too many calls. All the usual clichés were rolled out; ‘bums on seats’, be logged on (a 10 minute process because of all our systems) and ready to take calls at your start time, but the most ridiculous thing was that busy/wrap up (the button you press after a call so you can deal with system stuff or filling out an enquiry form) should not be used. Ever… Now, I’ve heard of call-centres setting targets for wrap-up times, but to insist on doing everything within the call whilst speaking to the customer is just ludicrous. Once I’ve got to the bottom of an issue and/or decided on my action, I don’t need to keep the customer on the line whilst I click through menus and type notes. It’s just a no-brainer.

We’ve also been getting a hard time over a call-logging exercise we are supposed to be doing for one client. For a while we have been told to record the reason why each customer calls. The problem with this is that I have to click out of the system that client uses, click on the toolbar, then click on a tab and finally pick a reason from a scrolling menu. If it’s a cancellation I need to fill in 3 separate fields. My phone is also set to auto-answer so by the time I’ve brought the call-logging system up I’ve got the next person shouting a customer number into my ear.

Like most people I struggled with it for a couple of days until I realised no one would tell me off for not doing it and duly stopped bothering. Most people came to the same conclusion which was great for a bit, but suddenly management decreed that we would have to do it. They also decided to use their favourite ploy, the public table. A list was produced with everyone’s percentage of calls against calls logged. I was rather proud that without bothering at all I’d been managing 30% (this was because payments were logged automatically), though some people were curiously scoring 110%. The reason was, as ever, there was some statistical cut-and-shut going on. If one person called and placed an order for two items it would be logged as one call, but two entries on the system. The system was also unable to differentiate between entries made which came from dealing with mail and entries from dealing with calls, so if you got a batch of mail with orders or up-sells these would also count as logged, but without corresponding calls.

From a statistical purity point of view the stats are worthless anyhow as there is no consistency among which calls are logged as what; one persons ‘account query’ being another persons ‘payment already sent’ and some people, wisely perhaps, just make it all up. In fact I’ve been making them up myself, but it seems I’m not doing enough – now that could be due to the phones malfunctioning giving me loads of dead calls last week, but anyhow I, along with several others received a memo chiding me on my performance, handed to me by my manager as she scooted out on her lunch break.

Just before I left I scribbled on a piece of paper

Manager,

Would it be possible to have a meeting to discuss some issues

Call-guy

Later my phone rang. The showdown will be on Monday morning.

Stay tuned!

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