Friday, August 22, 2008

Entitlement

Four the last three-and-a-half years I have worked in a retail customer service call center, both at the agent and senior agent level.  For those who don't know, the so-called supervisors are really a group of senior agents, not actual supervisors at all.  They don't have the power to fire an agent when the customer rats them out, but they do have some advanced empowerment and resources.

Anyway, one of the things that I've discovered in my time behind a phone, is that people feel that they are entitled to something even when -- and especially if -- they are not.  I shake my head on a nearly continuous basis over it.

I speak to customers daily who think that a working TV or computer is a god-given right, especially if they were sold a service plan.  They think that whatever timeframe for repair they have worked out in their head is what reality should be bent to fit.  They think they should get their delivery when they want it, without paying for that privilege.  They think that the store manager should do what they want, not what the rules say she should do.

This was especially true when I was taking escalated calls.  People's minds were so set on what they wanted that anything that they heard that didn't fit their absurd ideal was ignored.  Many are the times that the conversations would wheel around over and over as the customer tried to find some loophole in what we told them.  Eventually we just had to tell them how it was and that they would have to cope -- in delicate customer-caring terms, of course.

Since I changed from the senior position back to a frontline agent, my opinion formed over the last two-and-a-half years, as a senior agent, is beginning to revert.  I'd forgotten that most of the people who call us just want to be heard.  They've had an experience that they think was subpar and that we at Major Retailer™ should know.  They've got questions about our policies.  They lost a receipt or a gift card.

It's funny how one can become jaded after a time where all one hears is abusive language and off-the-charts expectations.

Just in writing this I realize that my opinion is shifting.  This was going to be a tirade about how Americans need to settle damn down and get a grip on their tiny little worlds.  But in thinking it over, a month in a different role is starting to erode that unpleasantness.  Maybe people don't suck as hard as I think they do.

Not all of them anyway.

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