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“No. I am not a customer. I am your coworker.”

I’m an insurance agent. During my call center career I was second-tier customer support for an insurance company, first-tier being non-licensed people off the street. We had three different locations across three different states, and certain policies were only handled by one location. This meant that, if I accidentally got a call for one of those policy types, I would need to transfer the call to someone in a different time zone than me who I’d never met face-to-face.

One day, like many other days, I got a call about one of those policy types. So, just like I usually do, I put the customer on hold and initiated a transfer. The person on the other end answered with the “opening a new call” speech rather than the much more casual “accepting a transfer” one, but that happens sometimes when someone’s not looking at their screen.

Me: “Hey, this is Joe in the [location] office and I have a [policy type] call. Are you ready for the policy number?”

Person: “I’m sorry ma’am, we’re currently experiencing a high volume of calls. If I can get your name and phone number, I’ll have someone call you back as soon as possible.”

Me: “…I’m sorry? Is this the [policy type] department? I have a call that I need to transfer.”

Person: “This is [company name,] but unfortunately we are unable to assist you currently. But if I can get your name and phone number I can schedule you for a callback.”

Me: “No, no; I’m Joe from the [location] office. I’m an insurance agent. I’m not a customer. I have a customer. Am I not able to transfer them currently? Do I need to put them in for a callback?”

Person: “How do I spell ”

Me: “It’s not important, there’s only one of me in this office. Am I unable to transfer this call? Do I need to schedule a callback?”

Person: “Yes, we’re going to schedule you for a callback. Please provide me with the correct spelling of your name, and with your phone number.”

Me: “No. I am not a customer. I am your co-worker. I’m an insurance agent. I’m in the [location] office. Am I unable to transfer at all, or did I call the wrong place?”

Person: “Unfortunately I’m unable to transfer you at this time, but if you’ll give me your name and phone number-”

At that point I cancelled the transfer, double-checked the extension, and attempted to transfer again. A familiar voice answered with the new customer opening.

Me: “Hey, this is Joe in the [location] office, I just disconnected and attempted to re-transfer. Is the [policy type] department unavailable currently?”

Person: “Unfortunately yes, they are currently unavailable, but if I can get your name and phone number-”

Me: “No, no, no, no. I am not a customer. I am your coworker. I am at my desk with my headset on and I have a customer waiting on hold. Are you tier one or tier two?”

Person: “I assure you, I’m fully qualified to assist you. Unfortunately we are experiencing a high volume of calls at this time-”

Me: “I’m tier two. Are you tier two? Are you licensed, like me?”

Person: “I am an employee of [company]-”

Me: “Me too, we’re colleagues, I’m out of the [location] office. Is the [policy type] department accepting any transfers currently?”

Person: “Unfortunately-”

Me: “Okay, thank you. I will tell my customer that I will have to schedule them for a callback. Have a nice day!”

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