Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sucky Training

We do weekly training sessions where we're supposed to learn and discuss any new policies and procedures, sales techniques, etc. They usually are pretty informative, plus it gives us time off the phone, which is always a welcome break!

Today we got on the subject, yet again, about dealing with customers who are upset because they had to wait for a representative. I'm not talking about customers who want to speak with a rep for problem-solving and are upset about the hold time. The bank I work for has a very "interesting" marketing strategy wherein they select customers to be routed through to a rep, whether they like it or not. For the most part, this selection is based on the customer's relationship with the bank...namely their credit rating and available credit line.

When these customers call in to, say, make a payment...they do not get a menu option on the phone to select to make a payment. As soon as they enter in their account information, they are instructed to hold for a rep. So of course by the time they get to us, they are a bit perturbed...they want to know why they had to hold for a rep...What's wrong with my account? What's wrong with your systems? Etc etc.

We have received extensive, continuous training on dealing with these calls. I have become an expert at stroking the ego. We explain that we want to provide excellent customer service...that they are a preferred customer who is very important to us...anything to get this person calmed down and make them feel better so that I can service the call and then segue into any promotional offers available on the account...because this is the real reason why the customer was placed on hold and transferred to my line in the first place. 

I am fully aware that this is a sales-based position, and I do really believe that we have some excellent promotional offers with fair terms, but FML I hate this strategy! It creates such a barrier to gaining the customer's trust...but mainly I feel like it's a bit unethical. Our marketing/advertising team basically sucks balls, and can't figure out a way to make people want to call us for these offers, so now we're going to hold someone hostage on the phone and force them to speak to a rep? 

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that we also do this thing where, when a customer calls to activate a credit card, the automated system will ask if they'd like to complete a balance transfer. Even if they select the button for "no," the customer will be routed to a rep. I'm sure you can imagine how pleased these people are to speak with me and what their response is when I offer them said balance transfer.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Team Player

I took a call today that I had to transfer to our fraud department. Apparently one of our customers needed to order a replacement social security card, and after searching for "ss replacement," clicked on the first ad that popped up, completely ignoring the officially Social Security Administration website. They not only charged some bogus fee to their credit card but also gave up a lot of personal, identifying information in the process.

I warm transferred, as always. While I was in the process of introducing myself to the other rep, she said, "I'm having a really hard time hearing you," I said, "sorry, hold on," and suddenly I was completely logged off of my phone as I was reaching for the volume button. System error. Shit happens. I confirmed that the customer had transferred through and commented the account about my end disconnecting. If it had been just me and the customer speaking, I might get permission to call them back, but since 1) I have no way to get back into a 3-way conference call with the customer and that fraud rep, and 2) the whole purpose was to transfer the customer to fraud anyway, I moved on to my next call.

 A few minutes later I received an email from my "teammate" in the fraud department. This shit pissed me off so bad that I actually had to log off my phone and take an unauthorized break. I had to take a walk.

Basically, this bitch said, "While we here in the fraud department are happy to assist you and your department with your needs in verifying customers (No shit? Do not act like you're doing me a fucking favor when that is your job description!)...I do not appreciate the way you transferred that call...without giving me your name or your [employee code]...I asked you for the [employee code] but you weren't there and it was only the customer. Our [employee code] is private bank information which the customer is not supposed to be aware of (if you say so...). This created a very uncomfortable experience for me and the customer, and I feel it's very unprofessional to transfer a call like this..."

I thought of a few responses but decided to forward the message to my manager instead. "Not sure how to reply to this, I was disconnected due to a system error."

My manager knows that I am not a fucking idiot but I am a consummate professional so his answer was, "No reply needed." Now, I don't know if this means that he's going to handle it, or just telling me to calm the fuck down, but I don't need to defend myself against this bullshit. 

How fucking stupid do you have to be to not realize that the call got disconnected? I was literally in the middle of a sentence when I dropped off the call. If my intention had been to do a "blind" transfer, then I would have done a blind transfer, pure and simple!

I get enough shit from our asshole customers every day. I do not need to be lectured about professionalism from a "teammate." You are not my manager. Go fuck yourself.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Performance Problems

Well, I was right. I signed my written warning today. Despite repeated coaching, I have failed to meet expectations for performance standards.

I have shown consistent improvement, and that was acknowledged and praised, but it still falls short. I was asked what else management can do to help me succeed and I really didn't know what to say. They have already provided me with a ton of additional training, which I do make a concentrated effort to implement. I said that I feel like no matter how hard I try, it's not good enough, and maybe I'm just not cut out for this work.

The response from management was that they do not believe that to be true, that they feel like I know the job really well and have a lot of potential. They can see/hear how hard I'm trying. We just need to find the key to get past this barrier where my cash sales are not successful.

The problem is that I don't think there's anything else they can do to help me. The barrier that I'm facing is that I am afraid to talk to some of these customers. It gives me anxiety to have someone on the phone who is rude and nasty because they prefer the automated system and get pissed because they were transferred to a rep. My mind goes blank and I can't keep them on the phone to attempt a sale; sometimes I don't even try because I'm so scared they're going to flip out. Why do I even care? Good question.

If someone calls in with a problem, I'm good to go, even if they're yelling and angry. For some reason I'm okay with those calls because it's something I can solve and I like to fix things. But these people who are pissed because they'd rather talk to a robot? It's like my fight or flight response kicks in and I can't get them off the phone fast enough. The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.

I honestly feel like the only way I'm going to work through this is on my own. This isn't a bank problem or a training problem. This is a personal problem I need to get over.

I'm looking into herbal/holistic remedies for anxiety. I should probably meditate or something but I wouldn't even know where to start with that. I just need to figure something out that prevents me from getting so upset with these calls. The only way I can describe it is that it hurts my feelings, seriously. Like, why are you being so mean to me when I'm being so nice to you and I didn't do anything wrong?

I know, logically, that there is no reason why I should even care. I know that whatever irritation these customers are projecting is not directed at me personally and I will never speak to them again anyway. I wish I could just brush it off, but right now it really gets under my skin.