It’s time for a topic revisit from when I first started working at a call center. If you recall from part 1 of this topic, I was having a hard time coping with literally being paid to be social for 8 hours a day and needing time to myself, as an introvert. I’m back for part 2 now to let you all, my dear readers, know how I’ve been handling a job where all I do is talk on the phone all day.
The first thing I had to learn and take to heart is that I cannot internalize things the callers say to me or even the things they call me. For example, just last week I had a caller who called me a fucking moron because I told her she did not have a Medicare account with us. The call didn’t last much longer than that, but it was upsetting. Even when I’ve had to deal with people like that day in and day out, it will always be upsetting. But you know what? I had to deal with that entitled asshole of a customer for less than 10 minutes. She has to deal with her insurance issues for hours, days, and hopefully even weeks. She’s not worth my time outside of work to worry about.
The trick is, when you get a call that upsets you, it’s totally fine to take a minute or two after the call and take a few deep breaths. Take a long swig of water or soda or coffee or whatever it is you drink. Go take a bathroom break, even if all you do is get away from the phone for a few minutes. If someone calls you out on it, all you have to do is say you had a bad call. I promise, everyone who has ever worked at a call center will understand and let you take a couple of moments to calm down and let it go.
The other side of the coin is that you need to take the kind things customers say to heart. If someone is thanking you for helping them, even if all you did was click a few buttons and get their medication refilled, they are being sincere. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but sharing that one little piece of information like that they can get up to a 14 day supply at the local pharmacy while waiting for their 90 day supply through the mail order pharmacy can make someone’s day, even their week.
Yes, more often than not, you’ll get calls where the caller won’t even realize they’re yelling at a real person, but those calls were the caller realizes it and then goes a step farther by acknowledging the fact that you are indeed a human being are going to make the job bearable.
If you’re worried about the physical act of having to answer the phone every time it rings, the whole process does become automatic. Also, you don’t even physically answer the phones, the call just sort of comes in. No real way to avoid it. At my job, it’s this little beep-beep and then we’re on with our “Thank you for calling. This is Kate. How can I help you?” It gets easier and easier the more you repeat the process. I’ve been at my job for 8 months now, and each time I take a call, I begin automatically. In fact, I move through the majority of my calls pretty much on autopilot.
Working at a job where all you do is talk on the phones, making and taking phone calls outside of work becomes even more of a daunting task. It is nice, though, when you can relate to the person answering the phone at your bank or when you call the electric company. It makes those calls seem less like you’re talking to some stranger and more like you’re talking to a comrade-in-arms (because, let’s face it, it’s a war on those phones – fighting customers who think they’re right but aren’t, trying to help those that have been wronged by the system, and moving through the seemingly constant verbal barrage of insults and complaints).
You’re friends, family, and loved ones will at least attempt to understand you need a good hour or more of silence or minimal conversation upon arriving home. I’m lucky my boyfriend works in the same call center I do. We have a mutual understanding that the drive home will only consist of very basic “what do you want for dinners” and whatever music is playing on the radio. You may need to explain to family or roommates once or twice that all you do all day is talk, you need time to not talk. And I mean that – you need physical time to rest your vocal chords. You will get sore throat after sore throat and loose your voice on a monthly, even weekly basis. Once whoever you live with sees the physical side effects of literally talking for 8 hours straight, they’ll let you rest up your voice a bit before asking again how your day was and the like.
So far, being an introvert at a call center isn’t an impossible thing to do. It does just take some time to get used to it all and to learn coping mechanisms for dealing with the constant socialization. Expect more posts on the topic as I learn more about it through first hand experience.