In American society, invariably you’ve contacted a call center filled wall-to-wall with customer service representatives (CSRs) And for twenty years, I was a call center rat in some capacity. In some of those call centers, I rose through the ranks to be promoted to title of supervisor. Not only did we manage the workers, but we took escalated calls. The following is part 1 of 5 posts based on the funniest call center stories, I have to share.
Considering I’ve handled hundreds (if not thousands) escalated situations these five are bar-none the best of the bunch.
Funniest Call Center Stories: Part I – Sequim
I understand that not being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, you are not naturally exposed to Native American names of cities, rivers, and more. I would think that if you’re not an expert in the pronunciation of a term that you would defer to someone who is. Furthermore, if you’re traveling to an unfamiliar area, you should take the advice of a travel agent that is. This woman’s ignorance (or arrogance) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana led to her fateful trip that she booked with me.
In 1999, I was still a rookie travel agent at AAA Washington Express Travel Center at the Corporate Headquarters in Bellevue’s Bellefield Office Park. At this point in my employment, I was a known trouble-maker, fun leader, therefore seated right across the cubicle wall from my immediate supervisor, Carter Mears.
It was a high-speed, inbound call center for AAA Members only. I just wished they had better chlorine for the gene pool of this segment of these members. Then again, I’m glad their not because it provided me the first of funniest call center stories.
The caller voice was female with a heavy Southern accent asking me to traveling from Baton Rouge to SEE-quim.
I asked, “Pardon me, but where did you wish to travel to?”
She seemed irked. “Ya know, SEE-quim. It’s in your damn state.”
I narrowed my eyes while I peered at my Washington State map that hung on my cube wall. “Do you mean Skwim (Sequim)? On the Olympic Peninsula?”
“No, I need to see my sister-in-law in SEE-quim. Get me there,” she demanded.
I was in my twenties, therefore determined to impose my will on an idiot. It wouldn’t end well, either. “That’s a Native American name of the town, ma’am. It’s correctly pronounced Skwim. Regardless, you’ll travel to Seattle, and connect with a smaller commuter flight or drive there in a rental car.”
She explodes, “I want to fly directly to SEE-quim. Didn’t you hear me?”
For the next twenty minutes, I’m embroiled in battle with this lady on the phone. I finally surrender to stupidity, by lying to her loudly, and leaning over so much so to shout into Carter’s cubicle. “Ok, you’re flying from Baton Rouge to SEE-quim (I even adopted her pronunciation) Your hotel and rental car will be waiting for you. You might wanna drive around, though. Your confirmation has been emailed to you, enjoy your trip to SEE-quim! Thanks for booking with AAA.”
I slammed the phone down.
Carter peered around the corner to meet my gaze. I immediately pointed my finger at his face, “NO! No, no, no. I’m not explaining shit. She’s a genuine village idiot denying her presence by traveling to us. I’m done.”
Stay tuned throughout the year for the additional posts! Until then, be good like you should and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do.
Mic drop *bOoM*