Monday, January 26, 2015

Blood Runs Cold Again

At my job, I take a special pride in some of the more difficult parts. I don’t take great RELISH in them, but when we get a call from someone who’s mad at something that happened with an employee, I have a fair record of satisfying the disgruntled. I take a very real stake in our reputation, and being part of the operations of our business means I am, as they say, “customer-facing” in a unique way from time to time – when people have a problem with us.

Most of those who call with a complaint, it must be said, aren’t calling in a highly emotional state, and even those who are unhappy tend not to begin by taking things out on me. We’re all in the transaction together, and I do everything I can to explain what I’ll do next, to answer for my company’s reputation, and to take people seriously. And they know they’re not calling the person who upset them, really, so more often than not once I’ve gone through a complaint with someone, they are happier once they hang up than when they called.

Only a very few times has someone called me actually angry. Once it was someone in a contracting position of sorts, mad he couldn’t find our location, and when I (nowhere even near the state in which he was lost) was unable to help him (this was in the very beginning of my tenure, and I was not issued street directions to sixty-three offices when I started here) my vice president told me, “Give him to me. Nobody yells at you.”

Once it was a woman so wildly abusive that once she’d cursed at me violently several times in a row, I actually did hang up. There was exactly nothing I could have done to satisfy her, and as much as I care about our reputation, there was no remediating that (nor, frankly, was that really the problem – just a raving maniac). And I don’t get paid to take instruction on the gruesomely biological suggestions being made.

Today, it was someone who may well have had a very real reason for her upset. But I honestly don’t know. Something in a communication from somewhere in our company offended her, and I am sick about that if we said something that caused hurt or anger. But it was impossible for me to triangulate either the nature of the offense, or its source. I attempted a few reasonable questions, was called a disgrace, and requested to twist a fastener of the non-nail variety off before she hung up.

This was upsetting for me, but as problematic as anything in the exchange was that I could not complete the transaction. I couldn’t help – indeed, was outright prevented, by the petitioner herself.

Far more upsetting, though, was that this woman also abused our receptionist. Not only because our receptionist is very good at her job, AND a nice person for whom I feel loyalty and now some protectiveness, but because I’ve had that job before, and I know all too well what it can be like.

I’m no fan of a holler-er, but I can take that and go home and snoodle my beautiful furbabies and marinate in the magical potion of moral superiority (and I can vent at my brother and/or friends). But holler at someone with whom I share a vested concern for my employer, and someone I LIKE? Bite it, caller, I’m not on your side when you scream like a coward at someone you KNOW cannot respond.

As it was, no matter how much I said, “I want to help you” the woman was the rage-version-of-gleeful in accusing me of being angry with her too.

Um. No. You’re not important enough for me to get upset about lady – until you’ve hung up on me and then I find out you’ve abused my coworker.

The night is rain-into-snow, and I brought home my laptop, though our neck of the woods is not in for the brunt of the big snowstorm on its way to a spectacular pummeling of the Eastern Seaboard. It’s not beyond me to think happy thoughts of sleeping in and enjoying a commute only as long as the distance to my home office, wearing warm, comfortable boots. I’m home and I’m safe now, warm and well-fed with the animules (spelling intentional, yes; a dad-ism, and those are warm too).

That execrable human being can’t get me.

But man did she make my BLOOD RUN COLD for a minute there.

Hoping your Monday was a wonderfully dull day. But, if not, please throw in your own “vent” in the comments!

1 comment:

Colin Smith said...

It's been a LONG time since I last became agitated with someone on the phone. Most of the time, if I call about an issue, I'm talking with someone who can resolve the issue, and they do it without need for raised voices or vain threats.

The calls I get that annoy me are the "I'm Jane Doe with Such-and-Such. I'm not trying to sell you something, but I want to tell you about..." SIGH! What, you just needed to talk to someone, so you found my number and called? Of COURSE you're trying to sell me something. Just because you SAY you're not, doesn't mean you aren't. Just like when I SAY I'm not interested, I don't mean "please continue trying to persuade me." I really mean I'm NOT INTERESTED. So excuse me if I hang up on you.

Sadly, I know most of these people are going from a script and are behaving in a way they're being paid to behave ("don't take no for an answer"). However, I can't complain at their boss, so I try to say, "I'm not interested" in as un-agitated a way as possible, and hope that eventually someone higher up than them will get the message: Don't lie to me. If you want me to buy something tell me up front. And if I say no, just say "Thanks for your time" and hang up.

OK, there's my vent. :)