The Scale of Cynicism: a call for call centre courtesy

I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Some call centres are important, and some people who work there do a great job. But if I get hung up on by another call centre without them saying good-bye, next time they ring I am going to put them on hold…if I could, damn it. It seems ridiculous to me that so many workers complain about how hard it is to be hung up on or talk to rude customers when they hypocritically do the same thing themselves.

This is Britain, the land of common (and often superfluous) courtesy, so why can’t people adopt this over the phone? Surely call centres want to create a good relationship with the people they harass phone, as evidenced by the incredibly irritating first-name-parroting-a-thousand-times-per-sentence they often do. If a friend hung up on me without a word they could jolly well expect a very cold shoulder and a kiss-free text. Perhaps a passive-aggressive Facebook status if they were lucky.

However, I am becoming increasingly aware of my position on the Scale of Cynicism (which goes from 1 to Jack Dee), so am making it my ambition each time the phone rings to have a delightfully polite conversation with someone who may or may not be trying to sell me things I don’t need at a price which may or may not be astronomically inflated. So far, I’m not doing terribly well.Is it the lack of face-to-face contact that makes such rudeness acceptable? Maybe not for any of Jeremy Kyle’s guests, for whom there are no boundaries, but it is true that a cowardly ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach has been adopted by internet trolls. So maybe this is the problem with call centres. Each customer is dismissed as a mere statistic and no pretence of courtesy, emotion or authenticity is endeavoured. I know that if I behaved in this manner at my job, I would be sacked instantaneously.

So, to courteously conclude this post, I will hasten to add that if the person you would like to speak with Madam is not available, a thank-you and good-bye would not go amiss. Thank-you. Good-bye.


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