"Due to unusually high call volume..."

Yeah, that bugs the piss out of me too. :mad:
Any CSRs that work with that type of system want to explain?

You punch in your info.

System finds file, forwards call to appropriate agent based on who is calling.

Agent may or may not have file, and if they do, they use CC# to verify it is you.
See, if you are a someone who is behind, they forward the call to someone who can talk to you and help, but can also try to collect.

Maybe you’re a hotshot, super- highlimit- always -carry-s a- balance kind of guy and buys and pays everything on his card. Ah…then you go to the front of the line…NO WAITING for you, and you get the best rep, and she’ll be the sweetest gal, and she will try to seel you stuff and inflate your ego.

So, your CC# defines who is calling, and you are routed to agents or queues based on that.

I may be wrong, and if I am I hope you will forgive me. But are you the person I defended a couple of days ago, that claimed to work for one of the credit reporting companies? If so, do you now work for an insurance company? :confused:

Well, I don’t recall being defended! But I do work for a credit reporting agency.

Well if this ain’t defending I do not know what is: I said in this thread

…thanks for that help in the Pit. I didn’t realize I was pitted until you mentioned it here. I posted in that thread just today.

I battled crashing browser problems over the weekend after following some SDMB-ers advice on Mozzila browsers. I couldn’t keep track of the threads I was in and didn’t notice I was pitted.

Feel free to tap me for any credit reporting advice.

(Hey, our call center averages a 90 second hold time, and we only see about 1.5% of the callers abandon. We use workforce management software to forecast and staff to each 15 minute interval. )

yes, every time i called verizon dsl tech support, every single fucking time i got "due to unusually high call volume … " and then i had to wait for half an hour.

then verizon lost some lawsuits about their tactics as far as monopolizing DSL services … and suddenly the service improved dramatically. before that they were basically screwing all other DSL providers ( cuz verizon owns all the phone copper lines around here ) and as such they could get away with the worst imaginable service and still get all the customers they needed.

but guess what beyotch, i didnt forget those hours on hold, as soon as cable became available i cancelled my DSL.

Imagine having customer service that is so bad you can’t wait to deal with the cable company! Now that speaks volumes about Verizon!

I can’t speak for other manager types, but that tactic would never fly with me. If I ever noticed that an agent’s talk time was doing wild and wonderful things that was a signal to put a trace on that agent. The wonderful thing about call centers is that everything you can do can be monitored left, right, and center. Every button you press is recorded somewhere. I can tell if you hang up on a customer.

You start dropping calls, out the door you go. I can coach you on how to lower talk time, but hey, your job is to talk to the customer. If you don’t do that, they just call back and increase call volume. Not to mention that they are more pissed than before. The other agents don’t need that and I don’t mind not having another ass to try to coach.

You may not tolerate it, but it goes on some places. Check out this article to find out all about your call center woes.

GMRyujin: Holy shit. I have to say that, for all of my company’s problems, we are NOTHING like that.

As Cyros said: that doesn’t always fly, especially with a better center.

Let me elaborate a bit on my company. We’re a company that supplies customer service to other companies. This might sound like this would decrease quality of the service (since we want our money from the other company, not customers). In actuality, I would imagine it increases quality. To our corporation, customer service is not a cost – it’s bringing in money. We only do that if we’re pleasing clients and, what’s more, attracting new clients.

We’ve been servicing the client that my department handles for quite a while, and our goals are client-driven. This particular client has a big interest in quality. Call time is important – they don’t want to hear CSRs idly chatting with the customers while the fees are racking up – but quality is paramount. Because we get paid by the minute, we don’t want short calls (the way a company providing its own customer service would).

Dropping calls is one hundred percent not acceptable. We can coach to quality, or poor adherence (not doing what you’re supposed to be doing and when you’re supposed to be doing it), but drop calls, you’ll get a trace on your phone, maybe a warning if you’re lucky, then you’re out. End of story.

A rep’s job is to take calls. Dropping calls is forcing other people to do more of your work. It’s horrible service and it’s inflating your stats in an artificial way. It’s like using profanity with a customer. Completely unacceptable. I caught an agent with 400 calls (WAY too many) in a day. They were fired the following day. We didn’t praise them – that would be stupid, we’d have everyone dropping calls and our call volume would skyrocket (and our stats plummet) because nothing would ever get done! After all, these people are just going to call back!

The article about tech support had their method as trying to get rid of the customer. We’re actually somewhat the opposite - the client wants us to talk with the customer, see how everything’s going, suggest other products, check that they’re happy. If they’re not happy, we make every effort to make them happy. Our client’s focus is repeat business and bad service is a great way to lose customers fast.

Regarding this comment about hold times:

Well, let me elaborate how my company works.

Again, we do work for our client. Our client also uses another company for ordering. Why? Well, we do infomercials. A facility for customer service doesn’t have the capacity to take the thousands and thousands of calls in a half-hour that an infomercial generates. That goes to a different center where the agents pretty much just take the order by reading from a script. They service a lot of different companies and don’t know much about the products - if they’re asked product questions, they transfer to customer service. I honestly don’t know how much their average hold time is. Ours tends to be about 45 seconds or so (averaging the whole day).

Let’s say, though, it’s an existing customer or they call customer service to order. They press the phone option to be transferred to a representative with that “skill”. Some skills are easier than others and are given to less experienced agents. Some are more difficult. Ordering is about the easiest thing to do so it goes to less experienced agents. On an average day, orders will go through slightly faster because, due to growth and turnover, we have more inexperienced agents than experienced ones, and experienced ones can also be routed order calls if it gets busy, and so on. If you’re calling the billing area, that will have the longest wait because of the amount of additional training it requires (it is routed to a person who has had not only general customer service training, but more in depth billing training). Incidentally, order and general customer service are both given to new reps, so the wait time is pretty much identical (assuming that we don’t have a huge skew in the number of calls on one skill or the other).

Even between the easiest skills and the hardest, there tends to not be a major difference in the wait (since at about 1 minute 30 seconds, we start to have people hang up, and that hurts our stats, we make every effort to have calls answered promptly).

I should note that we don’t have a “due to unusually high call volume” message. That’s usually misleading – if a company has 45 minute hold times on a regular basis, that’s unacceptable, and pretending to have “unusual” volume is just patronizing the customers’ intelligence… Ours just says something along the lines of “our representatives are busy, the next available representative will assist you as soon as possible”.

I’m sure you’re nothing like that, fd, and I know that it’s probably exaggerated. As a further disclaimer, I realize it may even be made up, though it reads pretty authentic to me. I just wanted to illustrate that some of the things people are complaining about…well, they probably have reasons for them.

Well, horror stories about restaurants, retail stores, and such abound. That doesn’t mean that’s the industry standard; we just tend to pass on the bad stories.

Heck, that’s what I’ve been teaching to new people - a customer who’s gotten bad service takes, on average, 10 years to stop associating your company with bad service, and tells 10-20 people about their bad experience each year.

The one time my parents got bad customer service from USAA (I think it was two or three phone calls total, at least one of them being a complaint call) it turned out that the problem was their contractor, not USAA, and USAA fell over themselves apologizing about the rude treatment. I strongly suspect the contractor in question got ripped a new one over it. I third USAA. They are superb. Not only are they quick to get to you, but they are universally pleasant and helpful when they do. I was treated so well by them when I had a minor accident a few years ago (entirely the other guy’s fault) that I wouldn’t switch.

I remember the hell of cancelling AOL eons ago. I think it was a total of about an hour on the phone, the last fifteen minutes being spent convincing the bitch on the other end that yes, I really did want to cancel, and the more she tried to string me along the more I wanted to! I know it was her job to try to hang on to me, but good Lord, I don’t think pissing people off is a good way to keep them on your service.

On a related note, I’ve hated having music played at me when I’m on hold for years. One thing that the school I’m applying to does is right – when the computer puts you on hold to transfer to a human, they tell you that the silence doesn’t mean you’ve been hung up, and then they DON’T PLAY MUSIC. Ah, blessed silence.

Worse to me than just music is music that’s interrupted every 30 seconds by a voice telling me that my call is very important to them. The beginning of the message, the way the sound changes, sounds exactly the way it sounds when a real-live person finally picks up. So, every 30 seconds, your hopes are raised then dashed on the rocky shoals of despair!

True. I mean, I assume that if there is music playing, I am still on hold. There is no reason for a computer to tell me that they care about their customers and somebody will be with me as soon as they can – or far worse, to advertise crap at me!

I’ve always interpreted the “due to unusually high call volume…” message as a message that I’d have to wait longer than normal and, if my call didn’t have to be made right then, I’d always hang up and try again later so I wouldn’t have to wait on hold so long. You mean there are places that run this all the time?

The messages I hate, I mean hate, are those promoting other products or services or mentioning all the ways this company has to make my life easier (the phone company is a big offender) when I’m on hold about a problem or making a complaint. When I’m waiting to discuss how my service is out, I’m not exactly receptive to product offerings!

Can I get an AMEN!!?

When I moved to a new house (in the same town, keeping the same number), I called Verizon 3 weeks ahead of time to let them know and get it set up smoothly. Then I called a few days before my move and was assured that my phone would be working on the specified day. Then I moved, and guess what? no phone!

LOOOONg story short, it took me 21 days and about 9 hours total on the phone with them to get a damn tech out there to fix whatever “box” problem it was. The experiance was so hellish that I switched my local service to the first fly-by-night outfit that called to ask me to switch. I pay a little bit more a month now, but it is so worth it to be rid of the evil that is Verizon.

Anyway, as for the OP, I have never called my power company and NOT gotten the “Unusual call volume” bullshit. Even worse, they tell me to hang up if it is not a “Gas or other life-threatening emergency.” I fell for it the first two times, but after that I caught on. Thank god that the apartment I live in now is utilities-included, so I only have to deal with the phone at home (I love my landlord! I should start a thread on how great he is). I really don’t mind being on hold for a bit, even 10-15 minutes doesn’t bother me, but the patronizing does.

When I call places about my business accounts (even to that same power company), I never get this crap. I very rarely get put on hold long, and NEVER have to hear about the unusual call volume. I guess all it takes to be treated like a human being is becoming a corporation.

I definitely encourage you who are experiencing bad service to switch to a competitor with better service and tell the original provider why you’re switching. This is how we, as a culture, are going to have better customer service – we have to make it a priority.