So - the market research call centre has availed itself of my services for just over two months now. It was never a job I'd considered before, especially as cold-calling seemed like the most demoralising way in the world to earn a crust. The job details were a little misleading, suggesting that we would be calling people who had either said they were happy to be contacted by phone or were actually expecting a call. Not so! Quite simply, various companies ask our market research company to conduct customer satisfaction surveys by telephone with their customers. However, it's safe to say that most of those customers have no idea that their contact numbers will be used in this way. No doubt, it's somewhere in the small print of their contracts, or one of those little tick boxes, but really - who reads those?
It's been an interesting experience if for no other reason than hearing the many and varied reasons people come up with for not being able/willing to participate in the survey at that time (or at all). Some of my favourites so far are:
- But I'm watching Countdown!
- I would but I'm just going out to buy plums.
- God, ten minutes is a REALLY long time!
- My son's got a blister so I can't possibly.
- It's Sunday - the day of our Lord. Sod off. (Spoken by a vicar!)
- Sorry, my biscuits will go soggy if I do it.
- I'm on a piss-up at the moment so it might not be the best time to be asking me questions.
- Are the government paying you to do this because you can't get a real job? (Asked to one of my colleagues)
- I'm in the bath so I would sound all bubbly if I talked to you.
- No, my wife won't want to do the survey. But, Emily (!) you sound very sweet and lovely so I can promise that Santa will look after you very, very well this year.
- I know you mean well, and it's probably an awful job, but I just don't want to talk to anyone at the moment. I'm so very very sorry.
- Can I take the survey in the shower?
- I can't stop now. I'm just looking for a hamster that's gone missing.
As expected, I've also been shouted at, sworn at, told where I can stick my survey, and generally abused! And of course, all of these tirades have to be met with a completely fake, sickly-sweet "Well, thank you for your time anyway. Goodbye." Mind you, by the time I've reached the second word of that, they've usually hung up.
It's easy to be pretty thick-skinned about these when they only occur once in a while but if several of them crop up consecutively, I'll admit it does get to me. One day last week, on a shift due to finish at 9pm, I was on the verge of walking out at 7pm. For a solid half an hour, everyone I spoke to was either rude, unhelpful, unco-operative, pissed off or all of the above. I have no problem with people simply refusing to take part, with "I don't want to do it" - I would say no too - but there's really no reason to shout and swear in the process.
One surprising thing I've learnt is that people really don't like being disturbed on a Sunday. I guess because I worked shifts for so long and weekends meant nothing to me, plus the fact that shops etc open seven days a week now, I forget that some people still consider Sundays to be sacrosanct, whether on religious grounds or not. I've also discovered (though I'm unconvinced by the truthfulness of some of the claims) that "traditional" Sunday lunchtime now starts at about 11.30am and runs right through until about 4.30pm.
I'm in a bit of a quandary about the job though. I can really only hack about five hours at a time (except at weekends when the shifts are all six or eight hours), but that means I only work about a 26-hour week. Given the stupidly low hourly rate (even on the bonus rate when you beat the target number of completed calls), that really doesn't give me an income I can live on. The upside of the job is the flexibility of being able to choose your own shifts on a weekly basis, and I can't deny that not having to start work until 4 or 5pm is quite nice! What I could really do with is a nice little part-time job on three full days a week, which I could mix with the obligatory three shifts at the call centre.
It looked like it might get a little more interesting when I was asked to coach some of the poorer performers regarding the quality side of the calls. I've only been there eight weeks, but I'm currently ranked number 2 in the whole centre, and my quality feedback is at 100%. After the coaching, there's potentially some mini-training that they might want me to run, along with a couple of other members of the phone staff. They're trying to get away from all training being done by supervisors as they believe, probably rightly, that people generally accept advice and coaching better from their peers - people who are actually also on the phones day in, day out. However, as with most other things there, the coaching wasn't very well organised and the actual potential training hasn't even been devised yet, nor have any days or times been chosen for it. The people I was speaking to wanted to know the details before they signed up to their refresher training (as it was all voluntary). Suffice to say, that little diversion actually isn't going to make me inclined to stick at the job any longer than I was already going to.
So the hunt continues for something else/additional, reasonably flexible but more interesting. At least the latter shouldn't be too hard!