I’ve never worked in a call centre. Neither do I want to. How many of those currently working in one actually want to be there?
As I see it, there are two types of call centre; ones I call for help, and ones who want my help.
Research shows that being nice to people – such as giving presents, even holding open a door or making a compliment – makes one feel nice inside. So I imagine that being in a call centre helping people with their tax forms or booking an appointment to give blood, has some positives.
But phoning people up to pester them to answer inane questions about products they don’t want to buy? What positives do people experience from that?
Such people must go home feeling very depressed after a day of trying to persuade people to give them “just a minute” (knowing it will take two before they even ask the first proper question). And do I want to answer their questions? No.
So as I try to be polite, what is the alternative?
If I’ve time I try to turn the tables. I ask them about their life.
Where are they phoning from? How long have they been working there? How much longer do they hope to be working there, or do they want to do something else? What time of day is it there, and what’s the weather like?
As a result I’ve had some interesting conversations, such as a school leaver in Swansea, a student in India and a graduate in the Philippines.
And after a short friendly conversation it’s much easier to say ‘That’s been really interesting, thank you. I hope that you have a good day. Good-bye.”
And put the phone down!