Are Contact Center Agents Allowed to use their Brains?


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Just the other day, I received a ‘800’ Service call…so it said on the caller ID. Knowing full well that it was a call center on the other line, I picked up the phone ready to engage in the conversation. The agent (after a delay and me saying hello twice) picked up and asked for Lisa Reile. My name is not Lisa, nor does a Lisa Reile live here! I quickly realized that this was a collection call because the agent gave me the impression that I was lying by continuing ask me where Lisa was. And of course, I reiterated that there is nobody here by that name and that she needs to take this number off her list. The agent said that this is the number that they were given (by Lisa) and I asked them when they were given that number? This confused her and she proceeded to continue her call script, which clearly wasn’t in line with the way the conversation was headed. So, I again told her that there was nobody here by that name and kindly asked her to remove the number from her list.

This next part of the dialog is where it all fell apart. She obviously heard my request loud and clear: remove this number because there is no Lisa here. So, what did she ask me next??? “Can I leave a message?” Can she leave a message?!?!?!?!?! I burst out laughing and said: “Who do you expect me to give this message to??? If there is no Lisa here, who would you like me to give the message to and why would they call you back?” At this point, it’s obvious that the agent needed to continue the predefined script she was given and didn’t have the capability to engage in the conversation as it varied from the dialog I had laid before her. After I settled down laughing so hard, I again asked to be taken off the list and was then hung up on.

So, what I gather from this experience is that there are flaws in the systems and processes that this contact center follows. Maybe it’s the training or even the people that they employ. I’m not sure, but it seems pretty obvious to me that when someone says that a person doesn’t live here, the next logical question is NOT “Can I leave a message”. Maybe it’s a simple fix in the agent script: if person does not live there-thank them and hang up!

Kevin O'Brien
Kevin possesses a winning track record for transforming small market organizations into large thriving entities. His expertise exists in executive level business strategy for technology and software companies and has been responsible for outcomes that include leading organizational structure and growth, optimizing sales and marketing strategies, and driving the efficiency/effectiveness for entire corporate operations.


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