behavior, call center, common sense, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, customer service, customers, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, values

Be Nice!

Von and I have made it no secret that we work in a call center. Only the name and location have been changed to protect the not so innocent. The company we work for also has a call center in the Philippines to handle things such as billing and tech issues. It’s not an unusual thing for American companies to outsource some call center operations to other parts of the world.

On several occasions, I’ve had customers erroneously call me with complaints about the advisors overseas.

‘Thank God, I reached someone who speaks English!’

‘Where are you located? I’m tired of talking to foreigners!’

‘I hung up on the last person because I didn’t want to talk to anyone in China.’

‘I want you to get somebody from America on the phone!’

Those are just some of the ugly, nasty things I’ve heard over the years about the call center employees in the Philippines. It’s not that they’re incompetent or can’t do the job, people are offended because they’re not American. They use the excuse of a language barrier, when in truth they speak fluent English, some of them with or without an accent.

Sometimes they try to reel me in to their nastiness chuckling at their own derogatory humor, but I purposely let them hang themselves with awkward silence. If you feel this way about someone who’s different from you, what would you think about me, a black woman? You’re just letting me know what you’re all about.

Call center employees take their share of abuse and I’m pretty sure those from foreign call centers get it worse. That just adds to the widespread belief overseas that Americans are selfish, arrogant, and rude. How many of those call center employees go home with horror stories about the intolerant Americans they’ve talked to all day?

If you’re not happy with outsourcing, that’s fine, but it’s not the call center advisor’s fault. They’re trying to earn a living just like you. Write to the company you get your services through. If they refuse to change, take your business elsewhere. Just don’t make your grievances a personal attack on someone who’s just trying to do their job.

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call center, coworkers, finances, life lessons, manners, money, Uncategorized, workplace

The Workplace Cash Grab

For some odd reason, my co-workers always find a way to finagle me out of money. Yesterday was Boss’ Day. The team I’m on works parallel with another team and each team has its own team leader.

“Here they go again.” I mutter under my breath when I get the email, which shows up in the middle of our pay period. The folks on the other team want to collect money to get gifts for the two team leaders. They’ve even made a list of the possible Detroit Tigers ties they want to get for the male team leader, i.e. their team leader. Oh and they’ll get something nice for our female team leader too, treating her almost like a second thought. I know the game they’re playing. The gift they want to get him is expensive, so they think they’ll involve our team to get more money.

Now I don’t have a problem with the team leaders, I like them both and they’re good people. I don’t understand why they feel the need to collect money when passing an appreciation card around will do.  My coworkers ask for money more than PBS.

A month ago, we had finally had our pot luck, which had been delayed probably about five times. Now me, I go to work to work. If I want to bring a snack or something to munch on, I do that. I work a 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift, so I don’t like eating anything heavy, otherwise I’ll be sleepy and miserable for the rest of the evening. I’m also funny about pot lucks. Unless you let me come over and inspect and clean your kitchen, I more than likely don’t want to eat your food. I’ve seen too many of my co-workers walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands and how do I know if you don’t have animals at home that walk all over your kitchen counters? Call me a kitchen snob or anti social, but it’s just me. Anyway, I was able to get away with not participating in the pot luck and I thought I’d have a reprieve before I was hassled for money again.

Over the past year several members of my team have lost loved ones, including Von’s father and my grandmother. Our team has the routine of passing the sympathy card around and giving it to the bereaved when they return to work. Now the other team had a member who experienced a death in the family and they wanted to go all out collecting money for flowers and giving the remainder of the funds to their teammate. The members of the other team participated, but most of our team refused. No one collected money for us, so why should we give her money? Not trying to be funny, but the truth is the truth.

Earlier in the week, I got stopped by a couple people on my own team who want to have a Stuff Your Face At Work Day in the next couple weeks. These are the hungriest people I’ve ever met. We just had a pot luck only a few weeks ago. The only difference is that this event will only include our team. Why are we planning yet another meal at work? I don’t come to work to hunt up food and I’m not really interested. I use a stall tactic and say I’ll think about it and I quickly disposed of the emails pertaining to the event. Today I discovered the Stuff Your Face At Work Day falls on my off day, so they can eat all they want and I don’t have to spend a dime. Though I know that the holidays are approaching and they’ll be trying to set up yet another Stuff Your Face Day before the end of the year.

Getting back to Boss’ Day; I ignored the emails concerning the gifts hoping they’ll leave me in peace. Unfortunately they sent one of their bounty hunters out to gather more funds. I know how the game goes; I refused to participate in the pot luck, so she asks me face to face to pour on the pressure. They might as well have sent two mafia wise guys to pay me a visit because it’s the same effect. It’s one of those situations where if you refuse to cooperate, you’ll have that stigma of being antisocial or uppity, not that I care what they think anyway, but I gotta work with these people everyday. Submitting to peer pressure, I say yes, but I won’t have the money til payday.

Now before the money was collected, we got emails with all the details. Today when I come in, there are no mentions of the gifts, or what was even bought for the Team Leaders. Now I’m pissed. You take my money but you can’t send a simple email telling me what I actually paid for? They got what they wanted from me so they don’t need me any more.

Let me set the record straight; in no way am I cheap, I in fact have very expensive tastes. But it’s my money and I like spending it on what I want to spend it on. I don’t like feeling pressured that I have to spend my money on some stupid event at work, just to avoid being ostracized or fitted with the label of ‘doesn’t work well with others’. Yeah, I don’t care what they think about me, but I want to get along with the people I work with. Like everybody else, I’ve got bills and other stuff I’d rather spend my money on. I know one thing: whatever they cook up for the holiday season, if I have to pay for it, they can count me out.

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call center, etiquette, life lessons, manners, Uncategorized, workplace

Conversation Parasites

“Yeah and then he said that he was going down there to make sure everything is okay.”

“Wow! That’s insane! I hope everything turns out okay. You know….”

“When I lived in Florida, we bought this bungalow that had a bad termite infestation. Oh my God there were so many termites in that house.”

Chances are you know one; a conversation parasite. That person  who jumps into the middle of a conversation like you’re playing double dutch. It doesn’t matter what your conversation is about, no matter how serious. They’re going to bang on that door until someone opens it.

They don’t really care that what they’re talking about has absolutely nothing to do with what you were originally talking about in the first place. You and the person you were talking to give each other that look like, ‘Will he please shut up?’

Unfortunately, I’ve recently encountered two such creatures. Both of them are older gentlemen who work with me. Maybe there was a factory recall on old men in their age range and I just don’t know about it. I can imagine that as children their mothers never disciplined them about interrupting a conversation.

Now the first one we’ll call the gate keeper. He sits in the aisle and has a question or comment for everyone that walks past him. Are you going to lunch? You going home? What’s for dinner? Where are you going? He even ear hustles coworkers personal conversations and asks what they’re talking about. He annoyed me so bad I had to put a visual aid on my computer just so I wouldn’t have to see his face.

Now the second one we’ll call Captain Flap a Jib. He rants and complains about how he knows how to do our job better than anyone and he’s the only one who can get it right. We have a coworker with bad work habits and he spends the whole day complaining about her like someone really wants to hear that. No matter how busy you look, he’ll find the most idiotic subjects to talk about. It’s enough to make me want to tear the rest of my hair out.

It’s frustrating and annoying, and I’m complaining, I know.  Maybe one day I’ll join them in their rudeness and tell them both to shut up.

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