A few years back, I worked in a call centre for a large British energy company. Primarily I dealt in payments for bills, meter readings and the like, but occasionally I’d deal with more complex cases (such as legal power of attorney cases or major business collections disputes). These usually involved a secondary department.
The players in this scenario:
The businessman (BM): he was an older man based in a fairly large nearby town. He seemed to have an attitude that clicking his fingers should make people immediately do everything he says.
Angela, the engineering supervisor: she is the senior engineer for our area, based in an office in my building but a couple of floors up. In addition to her own duties, she’s also the supervisor for a team of about 5 people. They take it in turns to be ‘on call’ for out of hours work, and it was Angela’s turn this night.
BM calls up, telling me he’s got a problem to do with power supply to his factory premises. I do my usual security checks to check access to the account, pull it up and see the account is a business account registered under the name of a factory making metal components for industrial machines. I did the usual diagnostics with him as we usually did and it seemed to be some sort of issue to do with the supply between the main substation and his premises. It needed a call to Engineering.
me: sir, I’m just going to make a call to our engineering department as it seems this will need to be referred to them. Do you mind waiting?
BM: I need this sorting so I’ll suppose I HAVE TO wait!
I mute his line and ring Engineering. Angela answers
me: Evening Angela, I have a query regarding what looks like an industrial premises’ supply. Would you be able to conference into the call and help me?
Angela: of course. Have you done full security? (I confirm yes, I have) Great, can you connect me? You’ll have to book any work in from your end so stay on the line.
I connect her through and listen
Angela: good evening, you’re through to Engineering, you’re speaking to Angela. How can I help?
BM: A woman? Seriously? How can you help me?!
Angela: sir, I can assure yo- she gets cut off by shouting
This man was NOT happy about the situation one bit and began to kick off about how we wanted a ‘real’ engineer, not some ‘daft bimbo’. This was the thing that got Angela very annoyed indeed.
Angela: Look, I’m a senior engineer with a degree in engineering from [top university] as well as 20 years experience. I’m giving you the simple choice- you can either speak to me, the most senior engineer for this area as per my job title, or you can have no power at all. It’s totally your decision.
Magically this challenge turned him into a far different person to the one I’d been dealing with. He answered the questions Angela asked him, and then I was requested to raise a job for the supply engineer to deal with which Angela signed off on. Job done.