I just had a gruelling conversation with Citibank, trying to track down some money that I transferred. My request doesn’t seem to fit any of the standard options on any of the menus and I dont have a card or account number to type in either. I kept coming up against blank walls.
Finally I used Google to search for a telephone number for the branch address I had been given. I found my way to the corporate banking help desk where a very distant and hissy sounding man with an Indian accent told me emphatically that they would not be able to help me.
“Is this call being recorded?”, I asked in a louder voice but still not actually shouting, “I hope so, because I want it on record that you are being unhelpful”
“Yes, sir, I’ll transfer you immediately”
Click, ring, click
“Hello sir, you’re through to ______, I’m the manager of the help centre here, how can I help you?”
This guy doesn’t work from a script, and was empowered to think for himself; he was, in fact, able to assist me. The assistance he gave was to give me the standard 0800, menu-driven help-line number from hell that I had been using before.
What I learned from this is that when they say ‘you call may be recorded for monitoring, evaluation and blackmail purposes’, it means the call centre employees are terrified of getting called on it!
Does this work with all call centres? We could overthrow their tyranny by always immediately asking to make a complaint when we get connected so we get to speak to someone in authority and without a script. Maybe we should organise global call-centre humanity day where everyone who calls a call centre for any enquiry insists on speaking to someone in authority. I wanted to say someone with a brain but, of course, all call centre employees have a brain and a personality, the centre does its best to hide this, of course, by making them work to a script and timing their toilet breaks. Liberate the personalities! Insisit on speaking to the manager!