Roadside assistance calls

Just sharing some stories of my time in a call centre.

Once upon a time I worked for an outsource call centre. For those that don’t know an outsource call centre is a place that handles calls intended for other companies that either aren’t big enough to have their own dedicated call centre, need an out of hours service or that need help covering peak call times. We had about 2 dozen customers and your next call could be for any of them.
One of our customers was the customer queries and new customer line for a roadside assistance company. We handled the out of hours calls for anyone who had an urgent question or wanted to sign up as a new customer between 10pm and 6am.

I’m sure you can guess the sort of calls we got from people who desperately wanted to become a customer at sat 2am.

About 90% of the calls went something like this:

Me: Good evening. This is inq at Gemofacompany. How can I help you?

Caller: You do breakdown recovery, right? Me: Yes we do. Gemofacompany offers personal breakdown cover. We …

Caller: Great. I want to sign up now. How much is it.

Me: It’s $75pa for new members and we offer a discount for …

Caller: OK. I want to sign up straight away.

Me: … and your policy will begin at midnight tomorrow.

Caller: WHAT! But I need it right away! I’ve broken down now!

Me: I’m very sorry to hear that. I’m afraid that’s the earliest our policy can start and we don’t cover existing breakdowns, only issues that occur while you are a member. I can give you numbers for nearby tow services.

Caller: [gets abusive or hangs up]

About 1 in 3 times we get a call half an hour later from someone with the same voice calling from the same location wanting to sign up who would mysteriously break down at 12:01am the next day. We’d get at least a dozen calls a month like this and maybe sell 1 or 2 policies.

The other 10% of the calls were often quite entertaining. Some were customers calling the wrong number to actually get roadside assistance. These we took basic details and transfered. Some were people calling with questions about their policy. Some were simply odd. Here’s a few highlights:

I’d like to get breakdown assistance for my vehicle. It’s a 56ft narrowboat on the Grand Union canal. You cover that, right? (no we don’t, but I managed to find them someone who did).

I’m a customer and my vintage Aston DBR has just broken down. I’m in Spain. Can you help? (Yes we could)

Our jeep has just broken down. We need a tow, but it has to be something capable of towing a trailor. With some [pause and some whispering] livestock in it? What sort of livestock? Er, a tiger. Just the one, and she’s sedated. (they actually managed to sort this out too. The tiger was being transfered to a specialist enclosure at a zoo. Strangely, if it had been farm animals we would not have been able to help)

What do you think?

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