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If only it were so easy…

There are sixteen calls in queue, a six minute wait time, and about a dozen operators answering calls for 32 hotels. The calls keep coming, but they flow like a river. The shorter the call the better. There’s not enough time to thoroughly screen so they needed to get idea, solve the problem, and move on.

Though sometimes a call pops up though that takes longer than the queue allows.

“Operator, this is Davies, how may I assist you Mrs. Grendel.”

“Oh thank the heavens someone answered the call, I’ve been waiting fifteen minutes for someone to pickup.”

Davies paused a moment trying to process that statement. He checked the queue, since answering this call the wait time was down to five minutes – not great, but better than it was ten minutes earlier.

“I’m very sorry about that ma’am, how can I assist you?”

Davies continued to poke around the system, and noticed that the Mrs. Grendel had actually been on hold for six minutes as he initially suspected. He waived that fact though, not worth picking a fight over.

“I need a cot sent to my room and three other rooms.”

“Excellent, allow me to connect you to the front desk for further assistance, they’ll handle all arrangements for delivery.”

“Well, I’ve already waited twelve minutes and don’t want to wait any longer. Can you just pass a message?”

Davies sat momentarily. This call was dragging on longer than the average call already lasts, and despite being an experienced operator they don’t have direct communication with front desk since it’s on the other side of the world.

“Absolutely,” Davies resolves. Easier said than done though because the front desk rarely answers the phone. Davies decided they’d send an email to simplify the process. “I’ll pass them the message and someone should give you a call back shortly.”

Davies didn’t know if the front desk would call or not. The pandemic has negatively impacted reliability across the board so emails and phone calls often go unanswered; however, difficult guests make the system more complicated than it needs to be.

Mrs. Davies begins to rattle off a series of guest rooms and names, which Davies interrupts the guest acknowledging that they would pass the guest’s details to the front desk.

“I’m going to bed soon, just let them know they can drop it off outside the room and when my roommate needs it they can bring it in,” Mrs. Grendel replied. “I don’t want to stay up waiting for a phone call.”

Davies sat momentarily trying to process what the guest asked for. The guest really wanted cots left in a hallway outside separate rooms. It was hard to comprehend the logic – what happens if they disappear? What about exposure to the hallway elements? Heaven forbid a stranger mess with the cot while it sits unattended.

“Okay, I can do that,” Davies replies. “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“I need to give you the other guest rooms,” Mrs. Grendel said.

Davies muted the microphone and groaned, their attention was divided while Mrs. Grendel was rattling off room numbers – they didn’t realize they only had two rooms so far.

The guest continued to rattle off a series of room numbers and guests, but Davies noted only the room numbers. More often than not guests give more information than they need to – Mrs. Grendel was no different.

“I don’t know what’s going on with you people,” Mrs. Grendel continued after providing the room numbers. “It took an hour to get checked in last night. There were only ten people ahead of me. That’s one person every six minutes. Then tonight it took fifteen minutes for you to answer the phone today.”

Davies mentally noted the time she waited increased from the last time – maybe it’ll be an hour the next time, they thought.

“You need to tell your manager to hire more people.”

Davies remained silent trying to process what the guest just said. To them, it’s all right to be frustrated – it’s human, it’s natural. But where does the guest get off telling an operator what to do for staffing. They maintained composure though.

“All right, you’re all set. I’m going I pass your request on to the front desk, and the cots should be up shortly.”

“Don’t just pass my request on,” Mrs. Grendel replied. “Tell your manager to hire more people. You can’t keep people waiting thirty bloody minutes to speak to a live body.”

Internally, Davies was screaming; externally, Davies has been crying the entire time. The manager is hiring, but the pay is uncompetitive and staffing is a revolving door.

“All right, I’ll pass this information on to the front desk,” Davies replied. They were carefully watching their phrasing – they had no intent to tell a manager to hire more staff because the positions are already posted.

“It’s not right to wait thirty minutes.”

“I’m sorry about that Mrs. Grendel, we’re working hard to ensure all requests are resolved in a timely manner,” Davies replied. “Is there anything else we can assist you with at this time?”

“That’s it. Thank you.”

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Had to share this one.

Finally leaving my shitty toxic micromanaging call centre job.