Matthew Kingston

On The Phone…

Matthew Kingston on December 19th, 2011 2 Comments

I’ve never worked in a call center before. I always thought it would be dark, cavernous, full of ringing and canned phrases and unhelpful people idly filing their nails and catching up on People or The Weekly World News. And there’d be a supervisor wandering the aisles, clip board and coffee cup, the one with ‘World’s Greatest Boss’ on it, and a creepy, too short mustache. He’d meander past, flip through his note book with his finger, his coffee breath noticeable–and that mustache–and read off your daily statistics. Then grin, all toothy and stained, and tell you to do better.

Thankfully, it’s only sort of like that, and I’m pretty sure I’m the guy with the coffee and the nail file…

Which reminds me: I’ve started a new gig at Verity, working in the call center, where I’ll eventually split my time between answering phones and working in the branch. I was nervous about the call center. I have to admit, I haven’t always been the nicest to some of those people on the phone when I call in to whatever call center I need, especially when they’ve done something wrong, which usually means I did something wrong and don’t want to admit it. So, now that I’m going to be on the other side of the phone, I sometimes wish I hadn’t asked to speak with a supervisor or gotten so angry a word or two slipped out that, well, probably shouldn’t have. Sorry to all those call center employees I may or may not have become angry with over the years. I know you were just doing your jobs, and that it was irrational of me to direct my anger toward any of you.

What I have learned, though, in my short time on the job, is that the call center has some pretty big windows, quite a bit of light, a small radio that plays oldies, the occasional piece of cake, a donut or two, and a couple of plants. It’s going to be a nice, new home. Oh, and there are people here, too. Nice people. Friendly people. Good people. In the end, it’s not even a call center. It’s a land of jokes and pink flamingos. And help. We do help people. Which is nice.

At the end of the day, I’m not convinced there aren’t call centers out there with stacks of moldy Weekly World News’ and burnt coffee breath and empty red toenail polish bottles, but I am convinced it isn’t happening here. Which is nice.

Matthew Kingston

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2 Responses

  1. verdant says:

    Thanks for reporting in Matthew. I find it refreshing that you’ll be splitting your time working in the branch and answering phones. That should help give you context for the types of issues you may be dealing with. My experience with Verity and with other companies is that call center employees are basically out of touch with their customers (which today is a very dangerous thing to do for any company). Further, corporate management ensures that the call center is isolated from, if not outsourced from, the major body of the company or agency. That means when customers call, they get disempowered and “in the silo” employees or contractors, who are unable to take a given problem to the next level. The primary objective of these employees appears to be “closing a ticket”, which then is converted into a metric. This is an unsatisfactory and ugly experience akin to what you find in many businesses today, but particularly is found at that other financial entity known as a bank.

  2. Melina Young says:

    Thanks for the comment @verdant. Starting January 1, 2012 our Northgate branch and call center are combining to become Member Services Northgate – all branch employees will work on the phones and all call center employees will work in the branch. We at Verity are very excited for this new era in great member service.

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