Monday, July 02, 2012

The smartest man in the room

Okay.  So today I found out two things... well, more than two things, several things, so let's just knock them out:

I'm officially out of training after this week, and today I had a sit down with the guy who will be my new boss.  In these situations, I'm always hoping my new boss might be someone I could actually talk to about stuff... someone with a sense of humor and proportion about work, someone who might actually agree with at least a few of my (always) heretical and blasphemous opinions about our shared workplace.

In this case, I was really hoping I'd get a boss who believes, as I do, that it's a really, really bad idea for customer service reps to try to sell things to customers.  I think this is a bad idea for one simple reason:  customers hate it.  I hate it, when I have to call customer service for something and they try to sell me some kind of upgrade, and I've done time at enough call centers to say with absolute authority, there is not a single customer in the thousands I've spoken with who called customer service hoping to be shilled, and while some are more tolerant of it than others, and a few will even buy what you're selling if you pitch it right, none of them are happy you're pitching to them and most of them are actually aggravated about it.

But my new boss is, of course, a True Believer; he looked at me with his big earnest puppy dog eyes and explained to me that technical proficiency of the troubleshooting process was only 33% of my job, and customer service was only 33%... the other 33% is sales.  And he meant it; he actually sat there and wrung his hands, bemoaning the fact that each of us is asked, in our initial job interview, if we have a problem with selling, and each of us answers "no, of course not"... and yet, so many of us seem to really need to be pushed to doing it more than perfunctorily when we get on the floor.

Now, I wanted to say, "Look, dipshit, there isn't a single person working in this building who would be here tomorrow if we won the Powerball.  We NEED these jobs.  It's not hard to figure out what the guy on the other side of the table wants to hear when he asks you 'do you mind selling'... or the consequences for giving him any other answer.  We're going to lie.  We're not going to in any way feel ashamed of it.  Get used to it... and get used to the fact that, having been forced to take a job we really don't want to do, we're only going to do the parts of it we really, REALLY don't want to do really, really reluctantly."

But what I actually said, very quietly, was "To be fair, what I was asked was if I minded pitching on every call, and I said I didn't.  And I don't."  That's a lie, too... I hate pitching on every call... but I never agreed to sell a goddam thing.  If I wanted a sales job, I could have had any number of them, that pay much better commissions, at nearly any point earlier on in my life.  Even in the worst economic conditions there are always sales jobs going begging; it's because sales jobs suck and hardly anybody wants to do them.

I'll pitch on every call, because that's what they require of me on this job... but I don't care if I ever sell ANYthing.

He also, at one point, mentioned that, 'as my father must have told me at some point in my life, you get out of something what you put into it'.  I said, again very quietly, that I did not have a father.  He waved that off... "Well, your father, your coach, your uncle... somebody."

What a douche.

I also discovered that the guy who has been training my class for the last five weeks has never taken a call at this call center.  Excuse me... he's taken three calls.  Total.

Plus, he was telling some anecdote to my new boss about how one of the people in my class told him after a grading session "Well, but, the score isn't always everything", and he had replied "No androgyny, dude, I can't handle androgyny".  This baffled me, so I asked him, "Do you mean ambivalence?  Or subjectivity?"  He snapped his fingers and said "That's it, ambivalence."  I said, "Do you know what androgyny means?"  He said "Apparently not."  I said "It means being effectively without distinctive sexual characteristics at all, or, having the characteristics of both genders."  He said, "Oh, yeah."

This guy's been training me to do this job for the last five weeks.

There are a great many things that are annoying about this job... what do I expect?  It's another call center job.  It has great benefits,  though, and we really need the money, so... I guess I'll just have to learn to put up with it.