Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Q: "How's your day been?" A: "Who the #@!* wants to know?"

I've blogged before about the ever-spiralling deterioration of outbound call centre quality, but I reckon it's reached new depths in the last few months.

Perhaps the most irritating aspect of all is the growing trend for callers to try to curry favour (no pun intended) with the recipient of the call before they've even had the courtesy to introduce themselves. Here's the scenario...

[Phone rings & I answer]
ME: Hello. [2 seconds of ambient call centre noise.] Hello.
CALLER: Is that Mr Downes?
ME: Yes.
CALLER: How's your day been?
ME: Who the #@!* wants to know? It is appallingly discourteous to call me, ask me who I am and then ask me how my day's been before telling me who you are.
CALLER: Well no-one else has complained...

When did I become the bad guy for wanting to know who's calling before I answer a question from a stranger on my phone! And when did this kind of conduct become socially acceptable in Australia? Is this just bad training or a deliberate tactic?

People's natural politeness and the basic human motivation of reciprocity no doubt leads many people (less grumpy than me) to answer this question BEFORE they know who's calling. Doubtless some call centre marketers are counting on this as the "foot in the door". In other cases, it's just plain dumb... and getting dumber.

If we put up with crap like this - and apparently many people do - it will take hold and we'll be stuck with it. This kind of thing is not only dumb, it's also rude and manipulative. Please let's not allow perfectly reasonable social norms to be eroded by ignorant conduct like this.

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