This week has been truly a terrible one at work - back to back calls, many of them just crazy stupid stuff. Like the 92 year old man who called me Tuesday and screamed at me for twenty minutes because his last dividend's stock purchase wasn't showing up on his account yet -- as if I can do something about that. Then the same guy called me the next day. The dividend purchase went through and he's online looking at all the numbers on his account (although of course he doesn't tell me that at first) but he has to keep me on the phone for half an hour asking me how much stock he has, how much stock did his last dividend purchase, how much stock did he have in his account before the latest purchase -- pain in the ass questions that require calculations I'm not supposed to make (it's policy where I work; we don't calculate because we might make a mistake and then bad things could happen). But the first time I try to just give him individual stock amounts (this much in electronic common shares, this much in certificated shares, this much in DRP purchased shares) he screams "THE TOTAL!!! THE TOTAL!!! I SAID THE TOTAL!!!" at me, and when I tried to tell him we're not allowed to make calculations, he starts screaming for a supervisor. At my current job, supervisors really push back hard on supervisor calls, when you can find one at all, so I just did the calculations for him. And of course I get done and he howls "THAT DOESN'T ADD UP" because of course I've made a mistake punching the numbers in (which is why we're not allowed to calculate for shareholders) and I have to do it over and this is when he tells me he's in his electronic account looking at these numbers so WHY THE FUCK IS HE CALLiNG ME? I mean, what is the purpose of him getting someone on the phone to screech at them about numbers he's looking at in his electronic account if whenever you give him a different answer he loses his fucking mind?
Plus, I keep saying to myself "I can't believe I got this guy back again". I mean, 300 people in the call center are trained for these calls and I get this raving lunatic two days in a row.
Various veteran agents at my current call center warned me that on the days of the full moon, things got incredibly crazy in our call center, and man, they were right. These calls are just insane. And the shareholders calling in with this nonsense are all horrible horrible people.
Anyway. Two days of back to back calls like this (and worse) and this morning I drive in to work and there's a train across my usual route so I go around but where I usually cut back to my usual route there's a wreck so I have to go further down and I'm hitting every single red light and I'm just really getting a bad feeling about today and I get into work and my first call is somebody who gives me one account number but then says "I'm trying to transfer some stock from another company over to this account". And I say 'what company' and he gives me a name I've never heard of before and I say 'do you have the account number of the account you're trying to transfer the stock from' and he says "I don't think there is an account I'm just doing a transfer" and this is impossible, you cannot transfer stock from the very ether it has to be in an account to start with and I say "well, sir, the stock has to be in an account to be transferred" and he says to me in this really shitty tone "well can you transfer me over to someone who knows how to do your job" and I look up this company I've never heard of and sure enough they have their own dedicated team that works out of Texas so I say "sure" and transfer him.
MY FIRST CALL.
So I take some more calls and while not all of them are shitty people who want crazy things most of them are and I get to like 10:30 and I can feel it, I can feel the day wanting to go evil on me, I know I'm going to say something to a shareholder or a supervisor that's going to get me in bad trouble, so I just told my Assistant Team Lead that I wasn't feeling good and I was going home.
And here I am at home where, amazingly, nobody is calling me on the phone screaming at me or being shitty with me because I can't do something that is impossible.
It's astonishing how much better my life is in the absence of this.
There are two reasons why people treat others with respect in this world. One is they genuinely respect the other person. That's rare. The more common one is, they understand that if they act disrespectful to a certain person, there will be negative consequences. That one is much much more common. I daresay nearly every boss, manager, supervisor, team lead, and/or other authority figure in the world gets treated with insincere respect by many people in their day to day life, because those people don't want to risk the possible consequences of not doing so.
In customer service jobs, customers have no accountability. There are no negative consequences when customers treat the poor asshole at the other end of the 800 number, or on the other side of the counter, with complete and utter scorn and contempt. And it's rough, and stressful, being treated like shit at your job all day long. Everybody who has a boss gets treated like shit sometimes, at least a little, because nearly all bosses are scumbags -- it's what authority does to most humans -- but in a customer service job, it's not just your boss shitting on you, it's nearly every customer that calls up.
And I'm sick of it. I'm sick up to here of it. Nobody should have to be treated the way I and everyone else I know in customer service jobs get treated every single day at work, all day long. We should be able to tell our bosses "hey, I'm here working, doing a job, I'm being professional, now back the fuck off" when they get shitty with us, and if they don't, we should be able to report their asses for unprofessionalism and get them disciplined for being douchebags to us. (And, yes, I know in a lot of work places now they say you can do that, but go ahead and try it once and see what happens. Within six months, for completely unrelated reasons, you will not be employed at that place any more, because management has no use for anyone with a bad attitude, and 'bad attitude' means, 'was served the usual plate of shit and did not eat it with a smile and did not ask for more afterward').
Similarly, every CSR in existence should be able to say to irate, abusive customers "I'm being professional with you, sir/ma'am, and if you can't be professional with me, I will disconnect this call". And as long as we were completely professional on the call, and the jerkwad we were talking to was indeed being a jerkwad, we should be able to hang up on them. I mean, honestly, that doesn't seem that unreasonable, does it? But try it. Do it once. They will fire you so fast that the sound of security's shoes on the floor escorting you out of the building will doppler behind you as you are dragged across the lobby.
I know companies are terrified of losing customers, but the way customers treat CSRs is a disgrace to the human race and it won't stop until there is some accountability for it, until there's a penalty for the behavior. If every company out there said "You know what, we've got our employees' backs; you can't treat them that way, it's just wrong", then people calling 800 numbers for service would start to behave like grown ups. Nobody wants to get hung up on and have to come back through the IVR again. People would stop being so shitty.
Or they'd get hung up on, which works for me, too.
But we can't do that. Instead, the burden is always on the CSR. Be cheerful. Be helpful. Give the customer the best experience possible. Always have a smile in your voice. Eat their shit. Kiss their asses. Do it. Do it. If you don't do it, if you stop doing it, if you have 'tone' in your voice for even half a syllable, no matter what the customer was doing, it's your fault. We need to have a meeting. Please sign this disciplinary slip. No raise for you. Do it one more time and you're out. This Behavior Is Never Acceptable.
Except from customers and supervisors, of course. They can be as shitty as they want.
I really hope tomorrow is a better day.