FTC Disclosure:

I am not paid or compensated in any way to write product reviews posted to this blog. There are affiliate links posted throughout this blog. So, when you click through on links and buy something, I may receive a commission. I pay for the products with my own funds. Product reviews always reflect my own experience with and honest opinion of the product as a consumer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Avoid Getting Fired From Your Customer Service Representative Job

In this economy, it is difficult to find employment. If you enjoy talking to people, accepting employment at a call center may be a viable option for you. Typically, call centers hire personnel to work as customer service representatives or inbound/outbound telephone sales representatives. Working at a call center can be very stressful, though. These jobs are usually very high paced, requiring some ability to think on your feet. They also require competence in navigating through computer programs quickly and multitasking. You will need to sit and wear a headset for long periods of time. Call centers are notorious for having a very high turnover, as many employees are terminated or quit at a high rate. In this article, I will discuss some ways to reduce your chances of getting fired.

Punctuality and good attendance are extremely important.
Make sure that you punch in for work on time. Some employers will require you to be logged into the phone system that you use. Be sure to log into and out of the phone at the correct times. This applies to the beginning of your shift, leaving for lunch breaks; returning from breaks; and logging out of the phone when your shift ends.

Safeguard customers’ personal information.
As a customer service rep, you may have access to confidential information. Your customers’ privacy should always be respected. Look up personal information in computers on a need to know basis only. In other words, you shouldn’t be nosing around and looking up account or transaction information on people that you know, including your own information. In this way you can’t be accused of any impropriety later. Find out what the company policies are in regards to handling calls with clients that you know. If you ever need to write down any of the customers’ personal information, remember to shred the paper that you wrote the information down on. Lock your computer every time you leave your workstation.

No cellular phone use while working.
Call centers usually have a policy against cellular phone use while working. The exact terms may vary from center to center. It is a good idea to keep your cell phone on vibrate and out of view during your work time. You may be perceived as unprofessional and inattentive to your customers if you use your cell phone during work hours. Make and accept phone calls on your own time. Also, there are call centers which discourage talking amongst customer service reps during and between calls.

Recite or read any required scripts as required by your employer.
It may seem a little tedious and rigid, yet some calls centers will require that scripts are read verbatim. If this is the case, then you must comply. Certain scripts are mandatory and are to be read verbatim by law.  Calls are occasionally recorded for quality control purposes and there are staff members dedicated to listening to calls. If you are caught not reciting the script as instructed, you may be reprimanded. Repeated offenses could lead to termination. If you feel that you sound impersonal or “robotic” when reading scripts, vary your tones. Put some inflection and energy behind your words.

Courtesy goes a long way with customers.
You are at the frontline when working with customers as a representative of the company. First impressions are lasting, so treat customers with the utmost respect at all times. If you are rude to a customer, it could have a very negative and long lasting impact on the company’s brand. Pay attention to customers so that you don’t have to ask for the same information repeatedly. Engage in small talk, while looking up and processing information in the computer. In this way, there is no “dead air” or silence. Quality control departments are critical of “dead air” and customers sometimes feel abandonned when there is too much silence.

It is rude to “mute”(switching on the mute) when having a conversation with your customer. A customer service rep may do this if he or she has developed the bad the habit of talking to someone else while talking to the customer. Customers aren’t stupid, and they usually take offense to this.

The customer is always right.
You may be forced to deal with a difficult or down right nasty customer from time to time. Don’t take a customer’s nasty attitude personally. The customer may either be having a bad day or be going through stressful life problems. So don’t let the customer bait you into an argument. Take a deep breath and treat the customer the way you would want to be treated under the same circumstances. Turn the volume down on the phone, if the customer is screaming at you. Never resort to insulting or cursing at the customer. Most call centers have zero tolerance for a CSR abruptly disconnecting customers. If it ever gets to the point that you can’t handle the call, it’s okay to get a supervisor to takeover the call. Unless you are a new employee, getting a supervisor to take calls should be a once in a while thing.

Be careful with hold times.
Think about it: Do you like to be put on hold? Keep hold times to a minimum (usually 2-3 minutes or less). If you are dealing with an issue that takes more than a few minutes to resolve, “refresh” your customer every few minutes. That is, take your customer off hold every 2 minutes, assuring the customer that you are addressing his or her issue and thank the customer for continuing to hold.

Pull out all the stops to make your sales.
If your position entails that you sell over the phone, make every effort to get the sale. Make suggestions to customers as needed, and make sure that your are always making an offer when possible. This is a numbers game, and with the economy in a slump, making sales is even harder. If you offer products to all customers that call, you increase your chances of getting sales. However, if you pick and choose who you offer products to, it’s almost a sure bet that you will not meet your sales objectives. If your customer says “no“, use every technique that you were taught in your training to overcome the objections. Some companies have no qualms about terminating employees who aren’t trying to meet sales objectives.

Don’t be tempted to abuse confidential information.
Most people have a conscience and are naturally prone to do the right thing. However, there are a small percentage of unscrupulous folks who have very little sense of right and wrong. Be forewarned: If, you are tempted to use confidential information for your own personal gain, you will be caught. Call centers are technologically advanced. In fact, some call centers have the ability to monitor each CSR’s every move. The company knows what you say to the customers and exactly where you navigate in the computer system to access information. There is the capability to do all of this in real time. Companies will not hesitate to file charges against employees suspected of fraud and identity theft. The company wants to ensure that their customers’ information is held in strict confidence and that none of their policies are violated. They have every right to do so since the company’s integrity and customer relations would be in jeopardy. So it isn’t worth the risk of termination and/or going prison.

Good luck in your career goals. I hope that this article helps. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

© Copyright 2010 Susan Broadbelt


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Metro PCS vs T-Mobile

The LG Optimus M Android phone from Metro PCS
The other day a friend and I were talking about his wireless service with T-Mobile. He told me that he pays about $68 per month for his service.  It includes unlimited local calling and unlimited nationwide long distance.  However, his service doesn't include text messaging, picture messaging, or wireless internet.  I told my friend that he could receive these extra services unlimited for $45 per month, taxes and fees included with Metro PCS.  His response was that he didn't like Metro PCS, because you get too many dropped calls with their network.

Well, to this I say that you get dropped calls with any wireless carrier.  I used to have wireless service with AT&T and I had dropped calls with them, and AT&T has a larger network than Metro PCS.  Yes, it's true that Metro PCS drops calls from time to time, but my experience is that it doesn't happen enough to be a major nuisance.  I don't hear any difference in call quality between AT&T and Metro PCS, either.    

I'll admit that larger carriers like AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile have superior wireless internet because they use the 3G, 4G, and/or Edge networks.  This is very helpful if you do alot of video or music downloads.  Or if you are a person that travels a lot or conducts business in a mobile fashion.  If you need fast, reliable internet service wherever you go, then it may be worth it. However, I don't think that the higher prices that the average consumer pays for 4G wireless services is justified.

Metro PCS internet is annoyingly slow at times, but I can deal with it. Wi-fi internet is much faster than the internet provided through Metro PCS.  I usually try to purchase smartphones that are wi-fi enabled.   In this way, I can use the free wi-fi available in places like the public library, hotels, or at Barnes and Noble. I also have a wi-fi router at my home. So, therefore, I don't have an urgent need for fast wireless internet on my smartphone.  

To the credit of larger carriers, their networks are available and provide greater calling coverage in more countries, than smaller carriers, like Metro PCS.  Also, carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-mobile, have a wider variety of cutting edge phones than Metro PCS.  As many of you may know, iphone service is available only through Verizon and AT&T.  

I sure hope that my friend gets with the program and gets with Metro PCS.

Update August 2011:  My friend still has wireless service with T-Mobile and I still have wireless service with Metro PCS. Since I originally made this post, my friend upgraded his wireless service with internet (data) and unlimited text and picture messaging.  He pays about $79.99 per month for the services with T-mobile.  We both have almost the same Android smartphone, the LG Optimus.  I am really impressed with the internet speed and quality that my friend gets with T-mobile.  He is able to watch videos with ease.  When I try and watch Youtube videos on my LG Optimus M, the videos buffer up on me.  But that is pretty much expected, because Metro PCS is my wireless data provider.

There are some cheaper alternatives for people who want faster internet service and an unlimited data plan.  Virgin Mobile Wireless offers economical plans starting at $35 and this includes 300 minutes per month and unlimited 3G internet access.  This company provides their services through the Sprint network, though.  I think that there may be a time when I might consider switching my cellphone service over to Virgin Mobile Wireless. 

Copyright 2010- http://www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com/

Counting Your Blessings

If you have a job, then count your blessings. Don't let that knit picking boss or backstabbing co-workers wear on your last nerve. Deal with difficulties on your job the right way. Analyze your own behavior in order to assess whether you  are doing something to contribute to the problems.  Have a face to face discussion with whomever is causing you grief. Speak privately with the offender.  It's best to be honest and  use tact and diplomacy with this person (or persons).

 If that doesn't work, follow the chain of command. And oh yeah, your boss has a boss, too.  Don't hesitate to go to human resources if the problem can not be resolved by speaking to the offender or your supervisor. Whatever you do, be rational and not overly emotional. Never get so upset that you are driven to walk off the job without trying to seek a resolution.  Thank God that you're not standing in the unemployment line. It might be bad, but it could be worse.


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