Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Customer Service Plague: Incompetence

First off, let me just say that if you are not a people person I beg you, for everyone's sake (and safety), do not go into customer service.

While I've had great experiences with customer service, I've also had awful ones. By the way, I consider administrators of any kind in the "customer service" field. If you must interact with people for your job, you are customer service representative.

I figured it would be appropriate since today is "Administrative Professional Appreciation Day" to complain about all of the "Administrative Professionals" that should get the hell out of the customer service field.

Here are a few tips and tricks of the trade that I've learned since I became a glorified secretary.

1. Have some semblance of a brain. You do not have to be brilliant to be in customer service, it's not rocket science. HOWEVER, you must know how to deal with individuals of all intelligence levels - because you will come across them whether you like it or not.

If you're a complete idiot and I have to deal with you for any kind of help, it will not be pretty. You have probably been at least partially trained to do your job if they're letting you deal with actual people, so if you don't know any basic information then what the hell are you actually doing for your job? If you don't know the answer to a question - refer me to someone who does.

Also, I don't care if you are as smart as the sole of my shoe - you should be able to at least greet me with courtesy and respect. There is an etiquette protocol that should be followed in any customer service field, do not stray. If I do not ask about it, do not tell me about yo' mama, yo' brotha, yo' baby daddy, what you did this weekend, how your date was last night...etc. There are certain lines that should not be crossed by the representative unless the customer takes the first step. I'll admit, sometimes I like socializing with my representative, if you can comply with number 2 on this list.

2. Multitask. If you can't answer a phone properly and chew gum at the same time, we have a problem. Chances are, if you are answering the phone the person on the other line will want information that you need to get off of your computer, out of your desk, from the underside of Snapple doesn't matter; you must be able to handle more than one thing at once. Additionally, if you cannot handle two phone lines at one time, what the hell is wrong with you? All it requires to pick up the second phone line is to say "I'm sorry could you please hold on a moment?" and click over. I understand if it's your boss that you're talking to, the other person can go to voicemail, but IF YOU ARE ON HOLD AND STILL CANNOT ANSWER THE OTHER LINE, you are a fool.

3. Learn to ask questions. As an administrative aide, you are working FOR someone, you don't have all the answers. This especially applies when you are being trained for something and work in an office with other people that may have more information about what you're trying to do or the problem you're trying to solve. If you don't have the balls enough to ask a damn question then you're not a team player and you need to remove yourself from the game.

If you have a question or are unsure about something - ask please. No one is going to bite your head off. That being said, if you're asking the same question for the 20th time or asking a stupid fucking question (and yes, there are stupid questions as much as there are stupid people) then, and only then will your head be snapped off. Otherwise, your coworkers/managers/bosses are all there to help so don't pretend you know what you're doing and fuck it up.

4. Speed the fuck up. If it takes you 15-20 minutes to do what it can take any other person 5 minutes to do, you're wasting time. ALSO, if this task takes you out of the office and I have to cover your ass and your phone without you mentioning to me (or anyone else) where you're running off to, then I have a problem with this. I don't know what you need to do to get yourself moving, but do it. Starbucks? 5 hour energy? I don't give a flying fuck, just take it in and let's get going.

If it takes you 10 minutes to read to me some computer automated statement that's 3 lines long, I don't want to hear it. If you're spending precious time twirling your hair or snapping your gum, you're taking too long. If there are more than three people on your line and you're taking more than a minute and a half to ring someone up with 10 items or less, you're going too slowly. If I'm waiting more than 5 minutes for you to notice my existence and begin helping me, you're oblivious and need to get your shit together. Just like you do not have all day, neither do I. Call for reinforcements if you need them, but I guarantee that if my patience are tested all hell will break loose and you're going to need more than just thick skin to deal with me.

5. Communication is key. If I send you an email that requires confirmation, please respond to my email with a confirmation. I don't care if I'm 4 feet from you and you scream in my ear that whomever I've asked you to confirm for a meeting is coming, I will not remember this 6 weeks from now when they don't show up for the meeting that it's your fault I was under the impression they were coming. That being said, if you decide to take what I scheduled for your boss off of their schedule for any reason after it's been confirmed, let me know. LET ME KNOW. If I get caught between a rock and hard place and look like a fool because you don't know how to do your job, we're going to have a problem.

I will rant about the ability to speak the English language properly at some point soon so I'll leave this section alone.

6. Have a little drive, no one likes a lazy worker with no aspirations to learn and get better. It's really easy to demonstrate that you're understanding new tasks, but it's really frustrating when I can't tell if you've actually understood what I taught you. I didn't teach you to do something for solely my benefit, the point was so that you learn to do the task, correctly, efficiently and well enough that I don't have to follow up with you every time you perform this task. I'm not asking you to love everything you're doing, but when I tell you about little nuances of a task, it's best to make note of these and actually take care of them in the future.

7. No Houdini acts please. It would be awesome if you would mention you were going somewhere if it's for more than 10 minutes so that I can be aware that I need to turn around and make sure no one is waiting for you or needs help. If you're gone for longer than that and people are kept waiting and I have to tell them "I have no idea where she went" then there's a problem. Refer to number 5.

Of course I just got busy at work. Gonna have to come back to this later.

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