Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

FLASHBACKS: The customer is, sometimes, wrong

I once worked in the Fraud department of a call center, confirming that over-the-phone orders for prepaid long distance calling time were being made by the legitimate cardholders. Here is a moment from that job, relayed in an April 27th, 2002 “blast e-mail” to many people:

I stood my ground with a phone bully today.

He had been held up once two months into his order history – this was back in December [2001] – and in early March, after two-plus months of making no orders, he called and whined, "very upset" according to the notes. One of us let his order go through, and got him out of our collective hair.

Several orders later, former fraud department boss Scott Justice (really) in Risk Management put a so-called "Emergency Forceout" on several AT&T customers' accounts for extra verification, including – voila! – the jerk I would talk to tonight. He tried earlier, got denied. He called. He whined, "very upset." Cindy the clerk explained sorry, we have to verify. His bank was closed. No dice. Eight hours later, he called back. Late. Like past 9 p.m. our time, 11 p.m. his time. (Before, we had asked him to order during banking hours. Almost every order since then by him was in the middle of the night!) I got the Customer Service Rep who got him. My first impression of the customer, to be honest, was formed before I spoke to him; the CSR told me the customer was, say it with me, "very upset." I then read the notes, and I thought – this is an exact quote – "I'm not impressed by this guy."

The CSR brought him over. We talked. He whined. At least he was prepared to try a different credit card, from Capitol One, so perhaps we could verify this time...then he said Capitol One wouldn't be open.

"They'd be open, sir," I said. I stayed polite. And it's true. They have 24-hour customer and merchant service. We know. He didn't. But he acted as if he knew more than we did.

The guy added insults to his repertoire, by the way. He thought it was funny we were doing this security step, "considering your company's inequities." Translated, he most likely was saying, "AT&T – and by extension you – breaks the law, gets away with murder, and I can't make a $50 order because you think I'm a crook."

That thought goes through my head quickly. And partly comes out my mouth.

I said, "Ex-cuse me, sir?" Then I said, "Actually, sir, let's not. Let's deal with the problem we have in front of us."

Blanket statements annoy me. That showed in my voice. I'm not exactly a big-business-booster, but insulting a company is not a way to my heart. It's a distraction, to be honest. I'm trying to help. Let me help, OK?

So I created an order, and put Bully Man on hold. I called a clerk, Jason, and warned him right off that it was an Emergency Forceout situation. These can be tricky. Jason accepted it and went on. I transferred the man, and got rid of him.

Turned out Capitol One was open...but its computers were closed. Meaning the bank was updating its database and was unable to bring up any customer information so they could verify customers.

No dice. Again.

And, according to Jason, more insults. More whining. More unpleasantness. The call went on for half of forever, because the man would not accept Jason's answers. The customer wanted to write a complaint. Turned out he had wanted to do that EARLIER, when he was first denied today. With me, he had acted as if he'd never asked to do that. Pretend you didn't do it, maybe we'll think you didn't. Good thing Cindy confirmed how he'd been before.

But to finish this, he tried to bully us into doing things his way. And that's one big exception to "the customer is always right."
Tags: flashbacks, work

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