I talk a lot on here about my job. About how it’s fun, stimulating, and just about the best place to work ever. It is, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all sunshine and roses all the time. There is, without a doubt, just one thing I actively dislike: answering phone calls.
I had no idea before I started working there, but I hate the phone. I vastly prefer face-to-face or email correspondence. Whenever the phone rings at work I secretly roll my eyes because I know I’ll just be answering the same questions I answer for every caller, about twenty times per day, five days per week. That is a lot of regurgitating the same information.
Occasionally the caller will switch it up on me and make it interesting. This one guy called last week and was listening to porn while he asked me questions about custom labels. Another guy called today and started fighting with his wife while on the phone with me. I’ve had to instruct people on how to attach files to emails, I’ve helped plan baby showers, and I’ve given my honest opinions on how I feel about the colors canary versus cantaloupe.
Given that I’m in customer service, I endeavor at all times to be pleasant. This is regardless of whether the person is shrieking at me from a New York subway line and complaining that I’m not talking loudly enough, or neglecting to write down anything I say and insisting that I repeat myself ad nauseum. I’m supposed to be nice to the people who buy stuff from us, so I paste on my best “No, of course I’m not miming stabbing myself in the neck while I talk to you” smile and try not to hang up on people.
I had a real corker of a call today though. A gentleman called saying that our website was giving him an error message. It was an error message I’d never seen before, so I asked him all kinds of questions trying to get to the root of the problem. Five minutes of rigorous investigation led to the culprit: The problem was that he didn’t know he had to put in his password while trying to log in.
After he thanked me and hung up, I sat in awe for a moment. He explained to me that he was an elderly gentleman and had trouble using the Internet. I was heartily tempted to agree with him but instead opted to encourage him. Still though. Whoa.
It throws me that something like logging in, that is so self-evident to me, can be confusing for someone. Same thing with investigating things using the Internet. We have a ton of people, usually elderly or late middle-aged people, who would rather call than check our website for answers. We’ll explain that all the pricing they need is on the website and they almost always reply by saying, “I just think it’s easier to call and ask questions.”
As a person firmly rooted in Gen Y, who hasn’t met a problem Google or Twitter couldn’t fix, I really struggle to understand this mentality. I’ve been using computers since I can remember, and searching for information on the Web is second nature. How a person could ever think it was more efficient to call and ask questions is beyond me. Maybe this is because I dislike the phone, but maybe not.
What I can’t decide is whether it’s laziness or a generational gap. What do you think?[poll id=”10″]