Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pins 'N Things

Why is it that the call center industry is particulary plagued by companies that hawk pins, t-shirts, stress balls, gew-gaws etc that either 1) attempt to increase the employee's self-image and self-confidence , or 2) adjure them to achieve ever greater heights of perfection?

I won't mention company names, but every couple of months or so, I'll get a catalogue in the mail (addressed to Cranky Cogitating Call Center Manager) from one of these companies. It's filled to bursting with pictures of smiling, miserable CSR drones decked out in t-shirts with ridiculous customer service slogans ("Customer Service - Winning People/Winning Attitude"), stress balls emblazoned with moronic slogans (what's more mental than giving a rep a "stress ball" with some misguided slogan to be-all-they-can be while they're being chewed out on the phone) and 'fun' ideas like "Crazy Hat Day!" Crazy Hat Day? Who the Christ is buying into something like Crazy Hat Day? My 4-year old son has Crazy Hat Day at pre-school - those are the only people buying in to that. The overriding assumption is that the Call Center Manager is supposed to stock up on this crap, and dole it out to the CSRs to increase morale, productivity and 'excellence'.

Why are we, the Call Center Culture People (CCCP) a ripe target for this trash? I'll tell you why. It's because many people, reps foremost, know that the CSR job sucks; it is a thankless, unrewarding, wretched thing. At the end of the day you walk off the call center floor (no real difference from the 'production floor' of a factory making widgets or disc brakes) with no sense of accomplishment other than having made it through another shit-storm. So some misguided entrepreneurs think that issuing a pin that proclaims "I make a difference!" to one of your CSRs is going to make a difference. Nope, not if the rep has half a piece of their cerebellum left. You know what I want to see? I want to see real testimonials from reps who have actually been uplifted by these trinkets. Because if I see a geographical correlation, then I'll start a Call Center in that very place where the CSRs are digging this crap. And I'll rename it "Moronville".

Dole out this dross to increase productivity and excellence??!! See the reference to Moronville above.

But I keep getting these catalogues. So who's buying this stuff? Who's having this rubbish thrust upon them? These companies are staying in business, so someone is buying. But who? Where are these call centers and these CSRs? If you know, let me know.

And a word of advice to my fellow Call Center Managers - a Customer Service Excellence Pin is just another sharp object...


Blogger CallGirl said...

I agree completely! I've always wondered why executives think another coffee mug is going to raise employee morale.

10:34 AM  
Blogger AnonymousCog said...

Awesome Rant Dude!

5:20 PM  
Blogger LIVE CREATIVE (Alison) said...


hell is a call centre
lord, let me die a little
take more life away from me
death in a headset
screen showing terror
and horrors
of life confined
hell is a call centre
indeed i compare

10:59 PM  
Blogger whoinsamhill said...

I once responded to a company questionnaire with something to the effect that while I love balloons, tiny footballs, jelly beans and other gifts endured by call center employees, what I really want is to be listened to. So show some real respect and fix our software.

7:27 PM  

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