Call Centers

I always assume it must be pretty awful working in a call center, receiving calls hour after hour of upset, sometimes abusive customers, trying to solve their problems, when often you have no power to really fix what is upsetting them. The turnover in such jobs is very high, even in countries like India, where the jobs are sought after and relatively well paid.

This morning, I called my local city tax department direct help line. A young woman answered, who I thought would be useless as she seemed so disinterested in what I had to say in the first instant of our conversation. So I asked her how she was in as pleasant a voice as I could imagine. She mumbled a reply and we got down to the business in hand. I could feel her begin to realize that I was not calling to abuse her, but was telling her the situation as clearly as possible and checking with her that she understood. Then I gave the address I was calling about and that seemed to push some status button or other. And I could feel a bit of deference creeping in, which I hate. So I thanked her for her professionalism on sorting the first issue, and moved onto the next item. I could sense the shock that someone actually realized she was trying to do a good job in often impossible circumstances. And she warmed beyond deference to actually take some pleasure in talking to a customer, if I read her reaction right.

So I guess, I urge you to consider what it would be like to work in a call center when you are dealing with them and try to see the human being who may indeed be exhausted, abused and hardly keeping on keeping on. I don’t mean, don’t raise your problem and try and get it sorted. I do mean do this via some empathy for the person you are dealing with.

And finally, a humorous angle. My late father aged 92 was talking to a call center and getting frustrated. He shouted to the person he was talking to: ‘Where are you based?‘ ‘Warsaw’ he heard her reply. ‘How can you possibly understand my problem if you are in Poland?’Poland?’ She said. ‘No, I said ‘Walsall in England about 100 miles north of you’….my Dad had to laugh and apologize….

An exhausted call center employee:




About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Humor, Conflict Processes, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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