Stop me if you've heard this before (or just skip ahead to Tip #13):
Winston McBride has been a lowly associate, a team lead, a supervisor,
an instructor, and much more at various call centers. His skill and
knowledge have given him a sterling reputation in the call center
industry. In fact, these days he goes by the title of Call Center Guru
Numero Uno, and he does so for a reason. He's trying to sell books.
Ha! I kid. Seriously, I was thrilled when he offered to allow me to
share tips from his upcoming Call Center Survival Guide with those of
you who follow my blog. Winston is looking for some feedback, as he is
adopting a very direct approach. I find his work to be rather charming,
and I think you will appreciate his efforts to guide you along the way
as you enjoy your role in the call center of your dreams.
If you enjoyed the previous installment, you will also appreciate this excerpt from Winston's work:
Warning: Adult Language
Tip #13: Getting Help from your Supervisor is Bullshit
So, when the going gets tough, either the customer will want to talk to your supervisor or you will need to ask them for help. Why? Because it is protocol. That's the only reason. If it were up to you, you would fend off your supervisor with any blunt object at hand in the hopes of avoiding that quagmire. You see, your supervisor can't help anyone. Not the customer, not you. Your supervisor doesn't take calls, your supervisor supervises, and they may or may not do that well. A great many supervisors aren't capable of doing anything well. Some are lazy and some are real tyrants. Some can hardly move. Depending on how long it has been since they manned a phone and what contract they were working for, they may have little or no ability to replicate your efforts or answer your questions. Should these poor devils get on the phone, they will need your help with the system. They will say the wrong shit and you will have to correct them. They will do the wrong shit and you will have to fix it. They will bumble, and stumble, and they will bumble and stumble some more. They are called upon to help, but they need all the help they can get. When you go to your supervisor for help, you wind up helping them as they try to help you, and it's a fucking mess. That's the way it works.
Here's my advice: don't let the customer talk to your supervisor. Never. That's the way to do it. I don't care how many times they ask, save them the time. We're going for the brass ring here, people, and the rules will not stand in our way. Tell your customer that your supervisor has no idea what they're doing. Tell them that if you bring them into the mix, you will be muting your phone to tell them what to do and say. Make them understand the basic futility of the situation and take control. Generally, I find that doing something you're not permitted to do, whether this is dispensing credits or free services to the customer, whatever you have in your arsenal that you're not supposed to use or that you're supposed to use with restraint, just dish it out and take your best shot at satisfying the customer. Everyone appreciates positive feedback from the consumer. So give it all away. What happens to that money if you don't use it? It's wasted, right? Don't be wasteful, be generous. Besides, if you're going to lose, lose big. We're in this to win this, but we fully understand the alternative. It's get paid or get out. Show me the money or show me the door. Gamble, people. Gamble frequently. Gamble when there's no good reason to. It's not your money, but it is your chance to make an impression.
If you need information and you can't find an answer using your other resources, just make something up. Do not ask your supervisor. Your job is to lie, and to lie frequently. Get a feel for it. Use qualifying statements like "My understanding is" or "I think the most likely outcome is" and no one gets hurt. If it's a yes or no question, you have a good chance of nailing it. Don't be timid, good people, be bold! That's how you succeed in this environment. Your journey to the top of the call center food chain is going to be filled with exciting developments.
Note: Your supervisor can be a lot of fun despite being otherwise useless. Ask them difficult questions just to see what kind of shit they come up with. Use big words around them. Talk loudly about good times you have had. Your supervisor can be a lot of fun if you have a knack for mockery. Throwing things at them when they aren't looking is also a classic for a reason, but avoid this practice if your call center utilizes security cameras. Unless, of course, you're willing to circumvent the security system, which would be a great use of the knowledge provided with Tip #48: Call Center Security Policies Were Made to be Broken (Repeatedly). Then you can throw things at your supervisor with reckless abandon. Be sure to blame the person beside you when you've had enough fun. Make a show of it. Think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. As long as there are no credible witnesses (a rare commodity in the call center industry) and you're convincing, you won't be the one getting walked out the door.
Trivia: Many people believe that most supervisors were once good people, and perhaps even cool people. Then they were taken into a room with other supervisors and a soul-sucking alien was placed inside their brain, forever destroying the individual they once were. It sounds ridiculous, but a little time in the call center world does lend the argument some credence.