It’s not the callers who make our job awful…

I am one of hundreds of thousands of people who work for world’s largest telecommunications company. I do tech support. Had a couple of calls today… The kind that gets to me.

One was a someone whose spouse was in a senior living facility in another state. All the caller wanted to do was to call the place to check on the spouse’s condition, but couldn’t get through. Caller asked me if they might’ve blocked the number. I told the caller to use the *67 to disable caller id; got right through. They actually blocked the number. Blocked a human being concerned about a loved one.

Another was a parent who was worried about a child who has not answered a single call or text all day which is out of character for the child. The caller is the account holder, not trying to get info from someone else’s account. Just wants to know if one of the lines on the account has been used recently. I look it up, see that the phone is being used. And it’s being used to talk to the same numbers as always therefore is not stolen. But, company policy prevents me from saying it over the phone. I offer to walk the caller through using the online account to see the usage personally. Of course extra security has been added to the account by the company, so the caller can’t log in. Caller explains that all that is needed is to know that the child is still alive. But, i have to get another department on the line to unlock the account. Hold for an agent… Every second feels like an eternity to the caller When the agent answers, i explain the situation before i connect the caller. Despite knowing that the caller is distraught, the agent fulfills every company expectation, sounding like a cheerleader,  asking “how’s your day going?”, spending several minutes on pleasantries, asking what the caller would like to be called… Caller really didn’t sound like a shit was given about what the agent would be calling the caller. Over all that call took 10 times longer than it would’ve if it wasn’t for company policy. If i was allowed to simply give the (verified) customer the info on a text message he’s paying for, he could stress less and get back to his evening.

When i first got this job, friends asked me what’s the worst part of it. I think i know now. It’s not the callers who are rude, angry, entitled, and/or trying to get a freebie. The worst part a) customers who can’t be helped no matter how much you want to. Like the ones who lost a voice message from a loved one who died. Worst part b) customers who could be helped, but won’t be because of company policy. So many businesses pass rules and regulations to disallow their employees to simply be human. They want you to sound empathetic, but god forbid you actually have empathy. They want you to “build human connection” via small talk so that your numbers look good, but they’d like you to remember that the voice on the other line is nothing, but a number to them (and therefore to you).

It’s not the callers who make it awful, it’s the corporations, the absolute lack of compassion we witness daily. That is the worst part for me.

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