I have worked for an insurance company for over a year and a half, and spend about half of my day on the phone speaking to people about their claims, as well as answering any and all of their questions. Overall, it amazes me day after day how incredibly rude and disrespectful people are on the phone. Below are five points of etiquette each person should keep in mind when you are contacting a call center.
1. You are calling a place of business, so act professional and conduct your business like an adult.
Whether you are calling a bank, an insurance company, or your cable provider, you are calling a place of business to conduct business. It is not appropriate to swear, yell, scream, or degrade the person you are talking to on the phone. If you wouldn’t talk to your boss or a co-worker the way you speak to a representative, then you shouldn’t be behaving like that on the phone. Overall, this behavior doesn’t get you anywhere. Most call centers record all of their phone calls, as well as the person you are speaking with are required to make notes on all of the phone calls that they take. So if you are being incredibly rude and disrespectful this will be permanently noted on your account for every other person in the company to see and read. Whether you like it or not, this will impact the amount of customer service you will receive and it will impact how helpful other representatives will be.
2. Have your information ready before you call customer service.
If you are calling about your banking information, have your account number ready and your questions prepared. If you are calling an insurance company, have your insured ID or claim number ready. In short, when you call into customer service and get a representative on the line, don’t waste their time by not having your information ready. It is not acceptable to put someone on hold so you can rummage through your purse or look through your house for your account information. This information should be readily available and you should be prepared to have it ready before you even pick up your phone. You do not want to start out the phone call by putting a representative on hold. Most call centers have guidelines/goals the representatives are supposed to adhere to. The call center I work at, we are only supposed to speak to each customer for about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Anytime over this goal/expectation, we tend to get in trouble and talked to by our bosses. So don’t waste the first minute of the call looking for your information.
3. Call when you have the time to focus on the task at hand.
It is amazing how many people call into customer service when they have absolutely no time available to actually ask their questions and listen to the answers the representative has. As a general rule, do not call when you are at work and not on your lunch or your break, do not call when you are driving your car, ordering food through a drive through, and absolutely do not call when you are in the bathroom. It is incredibly frustrating as a call center representative to try and answer a client or customer’s questions when they are constantly stopping to do their job because they called in the middle of their shift. It is also very irritating when a person calls when they are driving, this is for multiple reasons. The first being it is really hard to hear and understand you when you have your window down and the wind is blowing into your phone. It sounds like you are standing underneath a 737 airplane taking off. The second reason is that most people won’t turn down or off their radios. Again, it is very hard to hear and understand what you are saying when Jay Z is in the background. For obvious reasons, it is inappropriate and disgusting when you call customer service when you are in the restroom.
4. Get straight to your point.
Most representatives know what you are asking usually before you know what you really want to ask. Most people who call customer service feel they have a unique situation, well, I hate to break it to you but 99% of the time your situation is by no means unique. When you call in, cut straight to your point and don’t get bogged down in the unnecessary details of your back story. If the information is not important or pertinent to your question, then don’t waste your time telling it. As I previously stated, representatives or on a tight time frame and you don’t want to waste time telling a story or back details that doesn’t really matter.
5. Keep in mind that we really do just want to help you out.
Generally speaking, representatives really do just want to help you out and make things easier for you. This is important to keep in mind, as many people get the false impression that we are trying to dupe you or scam you. Overall, this is not correct for one simple reason. It is much easier to speak to a happy customer than a crabby, mean customer. Plus, there isn’t much point in yelling at a representative as we really are the lowest rung on the ladder. We have to stick to the rules and don’t have the authority to bend them and yelling at us isn’t going to get you very far.
These are really just five basic rules of etiquette you should follow when you call into customer service. Just remember, be polite and respectful. You don’t want to get a reputation around a call center for being a raging jerk, and believe me, gossip and stories run rampant around call centers. If you are rude to one person, you can guarantee that within an hour nearly the entire facility has heard about and will remember your name. Be polite, and be respectful.