13 Sep 2004

For Whom the Whistle Blows

Module Two: Part One in my masterclass in how to deal with Call Centres

Every time you pick up a phone to a Call Centre you become ‘an opportunity’.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

By merely talking into a plastic handset you suddenly become fecund with potential.

No – I know it isn’t convincing – but Call Centres all over the world are attempting to convince their staff to treat people in this manner… and failing miserably.

Have some sympathy for people working in Call Centres, most of them would rather stick pins in their feet than sell anything to anyone. Most have applied for this work because they thought it was something to do with ‘customer service’. Somewhere on their role statement, between donating their organs to medical science and an obligation to conduct a tour of duty in Afghanistan, there’s a sentence that briefly mentions that they may need to do some selling.

Either they have been fooled into it, or they have been redeployed from a back office function that disappeared when the operation was centralised years ago and they haven’t had the energy to escape.

There is no escape, because everything from a cashier to a dishwasher is expected to up-sell or tag a sale on to every interaction. You may think that they are raking in commission, but they are more than likely trying to fund a Hasbro Fun Bag habit and there is a promise of a fizzy cola bottle hit if they sell something.