Dialing while drunk

Last night was the second in a series of what will be nine contiguous nights chasing the moonlight as a seasonal employee on assignment. I’ve been doing this work just long enough now that I’m able to really focus on the callers, as well as my surroundings, and less on the technical components of navigating the order fulfillment system. It’s what I refer to as “being in the zone,” at least when it comes to being an order taker.

The last time I did this very same job, I remember that as the hands on the clock inched closer to midnight, the calls became stranger. This apparently is when the lonely people and those who wanted to hear another voice tended to call. It’s also when the calls originated from places other than Pleasantville, where so many of our iconic brand’s shoppers visit us from.

I knew I was rolling the dice each night that passed before the inebriated shopper made it through the queue and landed at my station. With an hour to go last night, he arrived, with slurring voice, a passive-aggressive disposition, and the audacity at several points to utter his “I’m sorry; I’m wasting your time, aren’t I?” brand of insincerity.

I struggle with being gracious and pleasant, especially when my fellow humans cross certain lines of propriety and decorum. An old boss of mine once wrote on a recommendation of mine that the JBE “doesn’t suffer fools, gladly.” That was an understatement.

Amazingly, I managed to grit my way across several landmines, refraining from uttering what was on my mind. This required putting my semi-nasty caller on mute several times, gathering deep cleansing breaths and clarity, while letting go of my irritation at my caller’s obvious condescension directed my way. This type of caller enjoys messing with you as an agent and he knows it. I managed to make it through this 20-minute call pleasantly and professionally, however, placing an order for a cashmere sweater and a stylish pair of driving gloves.

The old adage about old dogs and new tricks seems to be forging new sociological ground with me as its case study. Maybe reinvention really does make new passages possible.

The JBE-delivering world-class customer service at all times.


2 thoughts on “Dialing while drunk

  1. Can’t say I ever had a drunk one, but I had a real jerk from Yankee-fan territory who had a LONG list of wreaths he wanted to get for his clients / customers, and an attitude the size of the Empire State. If I had stuck to the ordinary ordering script I’d have lost him, all his complaining about how long it took and my asking the same questions over and over, despite his wanting different sizes and different gift tags for every one. I finally asked him if he wanted to complain or do it my way and get it done in half the time. I think he’d never heard a customer service rep stand up to him before, and I started asking the questions: how many large do you want? First address. First gift card. Second address, etc etc. He seemed pretty pleased when we were done.

    Here’s hoping that’s one of the monitored calls you get debriefed on!

    • Jerk-callers are minimal at my anonymous call center assignment somewhere (east, northeast, southeast?) of Boston. That makes for moonlighting that’s tolerable and on many evenings, can actually be fun.

      Most of the customers are happy to be filling their orders with merchandise and getting their holiday shopping buttoned up.

      So far, my “coaching sessions” have been minimal and positive.

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