Okay, apart from various short occasions in retail (which is a whole other post in itself) I have worked in various call centres for the past 6 years and over that time you build up some serious pet hates.
1. Listen to the person's name. If you don't understand it, ask them to repeat it. I'm aware I have a strong accent and it can be hard to understand me, but I would much rather repeat myself than be called Becky, Mickey, Natalie, or most annoyingly, Mecky. My name is Nikki. It's not rocket science.
2. Have your account number or something similar ready. Yes I can find you using your name and address but it's time consuming and irritating. There have also been some jobs I have worked in where no, I cannot find you using your name John Smith, so make my life easier please?
3. If I say "I'm sorry, that's the way it is" then I cannot change that fact, I'm not doing it to be difficult, or because I don't want to help, I'm saying that because that's the way it is. Deal with it.
4. Don't cut me off when I'm speaking, or try to speak over me. More than likely I'll just speak louder. My mother taught me manners, but clearly your mother didn't teach you any, so I don't plan to use mine.
5. It's extremely harsh, but no, I can't be a bit more understanding and do that thing you want me to do, because I am bound by company policy set up by people who can fire me. You are not worth my job, anonymous person.
6. You can say "That's disgusting" all you like, there's still nothing I can do about it. Now you're just annoying me, so I'm going to help you even less.
7. I can't hurry up, because you need to pick your kids up/go out/go to work. Why would you wait until five minutes before you walk out the door to sort out something important?
8. (This one's from Stephen) When I ask you an open-ended question, e.g. "Can you tell me about that?" "Yes" is not a satisfactory response.
9. Telling me you'll just cancel your direct debit isn't a threat. I work for a multi-million pound company who has the power to send endless debt collectors to your door for your "threat". It also means that, even though we'll get the money that you owe eventually, it doesn't really matter enough for me to break the rules for you. Please also see number 5.
10. "I don't mean to be rude but..." "I'm not being rude but..." Yes. Yes you are. And now that you know that, why are you continuing to do so?
11. "I know it's not your fault..." No it's not. Again I am bound by company policy, so why are you continuing to yell at me? Please refer to number 3 and 5.
12. If I arrange to call you back at a certain time, please be available then. If you know you won't be, don't ask me to call you back then. We are well aware that things come up and that you can't always be available when you say you'll be, so at least give us a number where you can tell us that.
13. Do. Not. Lie. You WILL get found out. The reason your account has been cancelled is CAUSE YOU LIED. I didn't lie, you did, so it's not my fault that this bad thing has happened. So don't lie. Comprende?
These rules are here to help you. If you follow them, you'll get on a lot better with the HUMAN on the other end of the phone.
For those of you who work in call centres, or indeed with the general public at all, you are not alone - www.notalwaysright.com