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A Crying Customer

Being in a call centre for almost a year now, the worst that I’ve seen are screaming customers or customers in distress. However, I received a call today that is still vividly on my mind now.

“Grace, where is my booking?”

“Hold on. I will check for you.”

“I’m sorry but this is not done yet.”

“It’s already 4 days, you know?”

“I’ve been calling for a few days already. I’ve talked to P, T, I and you, Grace. I need my booking.”

“Okay, I’ll get the booking department to expedite it for you.”

“Grace, if given a choice, I would never choose your company but I’ve got no choice. I’m very upset, Grace. I’ve been working in this company for 12 years already tapi tak pernah teruk macam ni. I just got scolded by my MD because the client complained to him. And the MD thinks I’m not doing my work but then I’ve been chasing for it from the very beginning. It’s not my fault that I don’t get my booking yet because you keep delaying it.”

“My reputation has gone down the drain. Do you know that it affects our company badly? Even my colleagues look down on me now. I’m sorry Grace because I don’t know where to pour my feelings to. I’ve never been so upset before.”

Listening to her, I could see her crying on the other end because that was just simply how she sounded. Tears streaming down her cheeks while she talked to me. I feel her because I started to really listen to her. I know it’s unfair that she got scoldings for a mistake that was never hers.

“Grace, please help me.”

When you get a call like that, you know how poor the service is. In fact, I think it’s madness. I’ve known it lately that it’s really bad and I can also see my other colleagues trying their very best to clear what is pending but it is still not good enough.

What I did after that was to bug my colleague, whether or not she’s going to hate me is one thing but what I wanted was to get this thing solved as soon as possible. I just cannot bear to listen to another crying customer.

Things moved a little and that was when the same customer called back again.

“Grace, how’s the booking? ”

“It’s only awaiting approval from our principal now. You will get it once it’s being approved.”

I took down more of the details that she wanted to clarify and then she said, “Grace, my MD wants to speak to you.”

That one line was enough to scare the hell out of me. I’ve spoken to managers before when their subordinates still couldn’t get what they want from us. But not a Managing Director and how am I not supposed to be frightened?

Obviously, I am not left with any choice. I cannot hang up the phone so I just took it as it came.

He was okay. Not the screaming kind of MD.

“Grace, what is wrong actually?”

“There is a backlog here and we are trying our best to clear it.”

“Yes, I know it’s a backlog but it’s serious you know? Even my customers in Singapore are complaining. Does your top management know about this?”

“Yes, everyone is aware about this.”

“Grace, please make sure this is done or else I would need to bring this issue up to the MD, which I know is a bad thing to do.”

“I give you my number. Once it’s done, you give me a ring on my mobile, okay?”

“Okay.”

I didn’t call because when I left the office just now, it still wasn’t completely done yet, still awaiting approval. And I didn’t know what to do. Call him to get screwed? Usually, I would call a customer just to relay the bad news. It’s like committing suicide, really. Because when you think you are making a courtesy call, it’s all the bad things that you’ll be getting.

So, I’m not sure what’s going to happen to me when the work week starts again on Monday. If I am unlucky, I will get screwed big time. Even though this is not a task assigned to me but I’m somewhat responsible because I’m the one the customer contacted. Whether or not it’s my problem, it is still going to be my problem.

Sometimes, I don’t even remember talking to a customer but they would come back with a written mail, quoting my name and said I’ve done this, this and that and they are upset, angry and whatever. People just like to quote a name and it can be just someone they have spoken before for another case and they tie it together with the recent one which has got absolutely nothing to do with the previous case. That’s how fantastic my work can be.

There are also times when I had to be the spokesperson for courier companies when customers don’t get their documents delivered on time. It is my fault that the courier guy is late, do you know that? I so bloody hate it.

At the end of the day, what do I do? I go to the gym and it’s a day I don’t feel like running anymore. I took a long bath. Came home and cry.

Aku sakit hati. Sakit hati untuk customer. Sakit hati about everything.

5 replies on “A Crying Customer”

I can understand how you feel. I work in a support environment too and have been through pretty much the same kind of issues. I just hope that there is some form of problem management taking place to solve the entire backlog situation once and for all. 🙂

Understanding the customer’s concerns and urgency always helps. But do not overdo it by agreeing on how bad support can be. Rememeber that you are representing your company and the reputation that goes with it.

It is important to know to manage the customers expectations. Like in the case of this MD (who seems like a resonable person), I feel that you should have called back to let him know the status of the request although its not done. The last thing he wants to do is to worry throughout the weekend on about whether the problem is being looked into.

I suppose you have to accept the fact that there is just so much you can do for a particular case. But it doesn’t mean that it is now someone else’s problem. Take interest in the case and keep on pushing for the case to move on. If there is a way to escalate things, do it. Bug everybody you can think of that are responsible or could help, they may hate you, but its your job. The last thing you need is a customer that decides to looks elsewhere for services.

tim: Yes, it does make some sense to me. It’s good to hear from another perspective on how things should be done.

I was afraid you see? So I didn’t call him back. It takes some courage to pick up the phone and dial that number which I didn’t have at that point of time. The other thing is I no longer have the same passion and energy to keep pushing and bugging because I really am very sick and tired. This is only one case whereas in one day, there is definitely more than one. I am not sure whether I am weak but there is also a certain limit of myself in going the furthest that I can.

When you are no longer passionate, it’s hard to keep on going.

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