Smoke Gets in My Eyes

If you are feeling happy today, please stop reading.

Answered the first call in the morning and I wasn’t sure whether I could survive throughout the day. It was the caller whom I argued with yesterday. Tak faham-faham lagi!

Then, another customer called again and the last call I made to her was at 3pm. Previously, I’ve talked to her several times. She’s really making a mess out of the things that have been set properly. I was explaining to her this is how it’s supposed to work. Who should pay what. But she’s insisting on something that I can’t possibly do. I go all out to contact the Singapore office as well but I was told the same thing which I later convey to the customer. She still didn’t want to accept how things are supposed to work. I gave up. So, what I did was to make the very last call to her to ask her for the very last time, what she wants now.

Then, she was blaming me for never faxing her any invoices and that really pissed me off because you have no idea how many times I’ve been faxing her those invoices manually. I faxed to her for that one last time just now, with a raging temper and invisible smoke coming out from my head. I’m running out of steam.

I was so tired talking to her that my voice started to choke like I was about to breakdown anytime.

“You’re making me very confused, you know?”

She heard me and must have felt that I was really tired of talking to her already. I don’t give a damn anymore. I wanted to say the “F” word so much today. I’m not kidding.

My lunchtime has gone haywire now. I usually go out at 1pm but it also depends whether my colleague comes back on time. Today they only went out at 12:30, thinking that I’ve got a stomach made of steel. I had to chase them out to go for lunch or I’d starve longer. Mr.Boss even said sorry to me when I was left alone in the department yesterday, handling calls all by myself when the entire office has gone out for lunch. After that I had to go out for lunch alone with no buddy to go with me. My usual buddy is outstation for some training and the fact that everyone goes out at 12 or 12:30 so there really isn’t anyone left to go out with me. So sad, right?

Today I only had lunch at 2pm. I get very irritated when I’m very hungry.

There are just too many calls with too little people to cope with. So, the standard greeting line whenever I answer a call now would sound like this, “Why is it so difficult to call you?”

“Do you know how many times I’ve been dialling this number?”

“Why your phone line like that one?”

“You all don’t want to do business already, is it?”

“Aiyoh, I’ve been calling since this morning, it is so hard to get through.”

I’m so fed up listening to all that. I know it’s hard to get through now that more people are calling. But then if you are able to get through, just tell me what you want and get to the main point straight away.

Please, please, don’t ask me why. I can only tell you that too many people are calling at the same time. And I’m sad to say that it’s going to be like that for a while before we have more people to cope with the volume.

All of us, you could just see it written on our faces. Mr.Boss kind of felt it also. He decided to have our meeting called off this afternoon so that we can go home earlier.

One more day to go tomorrow. One more day.

Now, it’s time to listen to Linkin Park’s “Faint” turned on a very high volume.

Phone Interview

I’m going to tell you a very long story.

I felt more burnt out today. At 9:23am, I didn’t know whether I would be able to survive throughout the day because I’ve been talking to a customer who doesn’t seem to be listening to what I’m saying and we ended up arguing. Not the screaming kind but I was trying to talk some sense to her.

It went on and on. It wasn’t solved yet till the end of the day. I was being treated like a fool too because I didn’t know how to solve it so I went round asking. Different people are giving me different answers which resulted in me calling up the customer and telling them different things each time. I hated that, really.

People like me would find it hard to survive in a customer service environment when the customers are the very aggressive kind. I would always want to help someone but when people know you are nice, they step all over you, which is why I think you need someone who is not afraid to be firm and not nice to get the message across.

A colleague of mine shares certain characteristics like mine. She’s very kind-hearted and would try to help the customers in all possible way that she could, which at times would really get you into unwanted trouble. So, another colleague of hers couldn’t stand seeing her being taken advantage by the customer, she advised her to just be firm but it sounded quite harsh because I felt the pressure. I was there too when they were talking.

I felt bad for her for a while there because I know it’s not her fault when all she is trying to do is help. But I also understand why her colleague is advising her to not be too nice.

After that, she came over to my desk and told me her story. I listened and she paused. I could see tears about to roll down her cheeks but she didn’t cry. She just swallowed everything back again. I put my hands on her shoulders while we were walking to my desk again in the afternoon to tell her indirectly that it’s okay and I’m here to listen.

Remember the guy who asked me what to do if the buyer doesn’t pay him? He called me three times yesterday and I’ve been telling him the same thing that I didn’t know what else to tell him if he were to call today.

He gave me a surprise by appearing in the office and he was specifically looking for me. The receptionist came to me with his name card and upon reading the name on the card, I almost fainted. He’s a General Manager of his company. Oh my God!

I panicked a little. So, I told Mr.Boss that there’s this customer outside waiting for me but I just don’t know what to tell him and answer his questions. I was hoping to get some guidance from Mr.Boss so that I would be able to handle the customer. But he offered to meet him instead. I asked whether I would need to come along because the customer hasn’t meet me yet and I thought it would be courtesy to just show up since he wanted to look for me in the first place.

Mr.Boss then hesitated and thought that the right person to talk to the customer would be the Customer Service Manager. So, I went to talk to her but instead of offering herself to talk to the customer, she was telling me exactly what I should tell. So, that left me with no choice but to talk to this guy all by myself. Do or die.

I went out and greeted him. He told me the exact story he told yesterday and I told him the exact same answer I told him yesterday. He wanted more so I told him I’ll check while he waits. Hopped back into the office and asked my colleagues but they couldn’t give me a definite answer just then because we would need to contact the office in South Africa to get more details. So, I went out again to tell him that it’s better that he writes to us so that we can follow up from there. I felt bad for not being able to help him there and then.

He asked for my name card and I gave him mine. That was scary. Talking to someone when you don’t know exactly how it should work. I wasn’t confident at all when I was talking to him but I tried not to show it.

So, yeah, I can expect him to continue bugging me in his thick accent. I need to talk to people like that more often to build up my courage. If given a second time, I think I would be able to handle it better.

Next story.

Two customers were surprised when I told them I’m a Chinese because they thought I’m a Malay.

Another customer asked whether I’m new here. I told her it’s going to be a year.

“You are still new. That’s why you are so soft and nice. If you work longer, you won’t sound like that anymore.”

“Ha! But I don’t want to become like that.” I told her. She then laughed by herself.

She’s the easy-going type of person. She speaks like she’s always happy and each time after she says something, she would laugh. It’s uplifting to just hear her laugh.

More new staff are answering calls which meant more questions for me. It can be that I’m answering the call on one line and then comes a person in front of me asking you question and then someone on your right, asking another question at the same time. Which do you answer? I had to multi-answer at the same time. Tell customer a bit while I put them on hold and check. Answer the one in front of me quickly to get her kill the call. Answered the phone again telling the customer a bit of what I’ve found and then answering the one on my right so that he can get his invoice printed.

It was like working in Bursa Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. Very busy.

After working hours, another person still came to me with one question so I helped her, while looking frantically at my watch. I had to leave the office as soon as possible for my phone interview. Luckily, I was just in time to order a can of soya bean while I took out my resume and details of the company, a pen and waited for the most important call of the day.

Two people interviewed me. The HR person and the immediate supervisor. It was only 20 minutes long. But I found it interesting, it being my first phone interview and that they sounded like really nice people. They asked me what kind of job I’m looking for. I told the them the truth which isn’t exactly 100% matching the position I’m applying now but indicated that I’m open to try other IT job opportunities.

The question that I felt most comfortable answering was, “How do you feel about your current job?”

“I used to enjoy my current job but it’s starting to get a little routine now and I don’t derive job satisfaction from it lately so I want more challenges.”

Now, let’s just see whether I will pass the screening test. If yes, then I’m going to the next screening level. The real interview by a person of a higher position.

Drove home and while I was sending my colleague home (I happen to meet her while I was coming down using the lift after the interview), we heard that the hitz.fm crews were somewhere near where we were. My colleague sounded so excited and so I drove us there to meet the crews for some goodies.

I got myself an F &N drink, a Biotherm moisturiser sample, Dentyne, a pocket calendar, a car sticker, a Fort Minor poster, tickets to watch the Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour. Not in Germany, babe, but the World Cup is touring the world and you get a chance to see the real world cup. The cup itself only at Berjaya Times Square.

Came back home and had to answer more calls. Mr.Boyfriend called. Mummy called. Pappy called. My parents are more excited than I am about the phone interview.

Good night!

Deflated

The phone interview that was postponed from last week to today was again postponed to tomorrow.

Perhaps it’s a good thing it is being re-scheduled yet again because I was feeling burnt out at the end of the day. Answered many calls and a lot of them are very problematic. Got ranted at. Got scolded. Being sighed at. It was too much that I was sounding very restless on the phone. Almost deflated. A customer even tested my intelligence when he asked me what to do when his buyer is not paying him the outstanding charges. Obviously, things like these are to be settled among the seller and buyer and it has got nothing to do with the carrier.

If he calls again tomorrow, I really don’t know what I’m supposed to tell him.

At times, I feel like the more I know, the lesser that I know of. I’ve been here for some time now but it still feels like I don’t have a complete grasps of everything because things are changing everyday. And not all changes are being informed to everyone which is why sometimes I’m put into daze. You would only find out when it hits you. All I do everyday is ask, ask, ask. And even that, I still don’t completely understand what’s being said. Anyway, there are times it’s better not to understand but just do it the way it is. It might be because I’m really not interested to know so much about all these shipping stuff. It’s good to know how it works and I’m not really that passionate to study all about it. I read emails that I don’t have any clue about.

Trained a new staff on how to answer calls. He was listening to my phone conversations as I answered them and then it was turn for him to answer while I listened to the phone conversations, guiding him what to say and what to do.

These guys…they are lucky. They are provided training for about a month’s long now and it’s only after a month that they are starting to take calls. When I first joined, there wasn’t anyone for me to listen to. I only had one day of intensive training and then the manager just dumped us into the sea. Sink or swim!

It was exciting and terrifying but also one of the best ways to learn. I got scolded by a customer on my first day which she later complained to my boss then, which later spoke to me rather impatiently and I was feeling very bad myself but I somehow saw it coming. So, ever since then, I knew what to do if being given the same problems again.

There were more people who attended the calls today and I acted like a traffic police. While I was answering a call, someone would come from in front and ask whether I’m engaged because she wanted to pass a call to me. So what I do is to signal the “bring it on” sign or “stop” sign.

I’m making more outgoing calls than ever. It can be quite tiring.

If you were to ask me to describe the kind of job that I would want next, I just want something that I wouldn’t need to talk on the phone for the whole day.

Sometimes, people see clearer from the outside than you do. One colleague told me that she feels I might be better if I were in a non-voice team.

While I was looking for a new person in the office just now, I went around asking the name of the new faces that I see. Not the usual thing that I would do but I’m making myself do it. One colleague introduced me to this new girl as , “Grace ialah antara Customer Service yang paling pendiam.”

Alangkah hebatnya!

What Are You Doing Here?

Customers sometimes care for you as a person.

“Grace, what did you study?”

“IT.”

“Then why are you here?”

“This is the first offer that came along so I just try it out first.”

“Why don’t you go back to do IT? You studied hard for so many years. You are wasting your knowledge and skills doing this.”

You know what? The new team I’m going to be in…there are two engineering graduates. I asked both of them why they are here. One has been working in a Call Centre previously and this is his second Call Centre, according to him, he loves the job. I can see that in him as well. He always come in with a big smile, a big sound of “Good Morning”. He just simply likes to talk. And he talks even better than me. That is why I always like to hear him talk, seeing how he puts his words, stringing them into proper and complete sentences, unlike mine that can go very cluttered at times, especially I’m too excited to present a case.

The other one is something like me I guess. She didn’t mention that she loved the job a lot and you can see that she’s just on a discovery, exploring what is the right fit for her.

Work is okay today. Was quite productive and there wasn’t any MD that looked for me.

I’m going to have a phone interview tomorrow, the one that was supposed to happen last week.
Good luck, Grace!

The Big Fat Van and a Flying Saucer

1. I was looking for a parking space in a car park of a shopping mall and when I wanted to turn out of the junction, there was this big fat van which is blocking the way. I tooted my horn to alert her that she’s blocking my way but there is no response. No signal lights. No hand-waving. No nothing. All I needed was a sign. Obviously, she wasn’t waiting for a parking space but maybe someone she wanted to pick up. But then it was really a wrong place to stay put because there is no way a car can pass by.

Feeling angry, I just reversed my way out and exit at another junction. Perhaps I should have just stayed there and sound my horn till her eardrums break but I am just not designed to do a thing like that, even though I really wanted to.

2. Some kids threw a toy into my house. Iris was in the living room watching TV and I was in the study room, discovering the wonders of the Internet. What I heard after that was like the sound of a breaking glass. I rushed out to check if Iris is okay and I was looking high and low to find the broken thing until I found a piece of toy on the floor.

If I were an old lady and I was standing in the living room at that moment, judging by the velocity of the flying toy, I might have died in that instant if it were to hit my head.

It was dark outside and so we went nearer to the balcony to see who the culprit was. Before we got nearer to the balcony, we heard another crashing sound. They were STILL trying to throw something into the house again!

Iris shouted as loud as she could. And I could see two boys running for their lives.

Feeling unsatisfied, I walked out to investigate who they are. They were somewhere in the playground and I could just have walked up to confront them, saying, “Why did you throw toys into my house?” with a fiery look. But I am not designed to do a thing like that. I was trying to keep my cool but if I was a little angrier, I guess I would have just snapped at them.

Iris called up the security guard and notified that some stupid kids are making a nuisance.

*roars*