Thursday, May 28, 2009

Because I had a lot for which to answer....

Have I mentioned I have a new job? I've had it for a month now (four weeks, since the first Thursday in May). I am an operator at the answering service down here. I got it because the Manager here called the Manager at the service I used to work at and she gave me an very high review including the remark she'd take me back in a second (she told me this).

I love this work, it's not something everybody can do or wants to do or is committed to doing. One has to deal with all sorts of people (our clients and their customers), some who are nice, some who are volitile, many different people with different accents, that we need to decipher via bad connections, without the use of body language or lip reading. One has to sit for long periods of time. Some of these calls have a high priority. A call that comes in on a line/account from a person saying they cannot breathe or their _______________ is on fire, needs to be called out right away......which is kind of hard to do here, especially if another call like that is on hold.

This service is different than the one where I was trained. Speed is essential here, not accuracy. One can play back one's own calls, though, as pointed out to others, if the call has static or a bad connection during the initial call, playback will not help, and it is necessary to ask the caller to repeat what s/he said. There can be four operators at most taking calls here. In IL, there could be up to 11 (typically, though, depending on the day shifts, there were between 4 and 9). Here, around 300 accounts; there between 400 - 500. Here, we see the calls holding via account and they go into a communal holding once saved. There, we saw the numbers holding, and each operator was responsible for fully finishing that call before he/she took the next one.

I wasn't getting the hang of things, really getting it, until this Monday. THAT is because I had been chewed out by a supervisor (to whom I apolgized because I was in the wrong), and had one on one time with her, her daughter, another worker, both overnight people, AND the trainer (all since being there). One of the overnight girls (the non-supervisor one) and the daughter of the other supervisor suggested, in my downtime, I go throught all the accounts and read how each client wants us to handle their calls, and if I have any questions, ask (this way I wont be caught off guard with a new call). Another girl gave me the advice to not use the mouse and to try to get these calls out in under a minute, and, do not say, "Yes, Miss," but rather, "Yes, Ma'am". The mother supervisor has stressed time and again and again (because I needed to be told repeatedly), try not to take calls that would require the person to call back to the office anyway. Offer to take the call, sure, but, these are calls that will be holding, and that is annoying.

I stayed for over 12 hours on Monday, the holiday (but, I only put in my 7 hour shift....which I got in the first place because another girl quit) to help the two senior operators (though, truth be told, I thought I'dve been more of a liability) because I offered because it would be them and a girl who had been there for under 2 weeks....who, I think, has already quit. That morning was hectic because we had old people calling in wanting to know if their nurses would visit them that day. By comparison, that afternoon/evening was easy.

The next day, Tuesday, I was totally getting it. Most everything clicked. It just all fell into place. I was doing so well, the Daughter of the One Supervisor showed me how to edit information in accounts and how to put in information on other accounts on which one needs to be trained.

....Also on Tuesday, we, the service, received a call....let me rephrase, I, ~I~ received a call. I had never seen this account before in my life, I'm not even sure if I had been told about it, but, it is a VERY high priority company. The first question we are to ask after we answer for the company is, "Is this a life threatening emergency?"

I didn't know that.

I answered the phone per the greeting the client wants us to use and was informed right away, "This is a test....." The guy on the other end wanted to know how we'd handle a call and what questions we were to ask and who was on call in a state primarily and secondarily. It goes against everything we are trained to do to give out first and last name on call information...but, I did it anyway. I answered all his questions. One of the last things he said to me was, "Very good." It seemed like a passing statement. I did put on the account that it was a test (we doccument every call that comes in....mostly....I should probably start doing that...).

Like I said before, we have a communal holding for the messages. If there's a message holding, it comes up on a pop-up when we type in the command to see it.

My boss saw that message.

He typed in the chat (as we have a type of IM thing within the software at this location), "How did we do?"

An operator who has been working here for three years (the trainer), replied, "I DON'T KNOW, ATTIA TOOK THE CALL."

He replied, and I cannot emphasize enough how much of a direct quote this is and I don't know if he did it because of his confidence in me as an operator for him (which, again, hasn't been glowing), or because I was unaware of what to do because I had never seen this account, "ah crap.....Attia?"

I found it ammusing myself.

I had to play back the message to see what the guy said, because, apparently, it was a real test. We are supposed to right away ask if it's a life threatening emergency as soon as we give the greeting. I didn't know this. We were told by Trainer that sometimes they will not say it's a test, they will have a scenario set up where it's a caller calling in, just to see how the call is handled. Daughter of the one Supervisor said something along the lines of she might have been conflicted because giving on call info, especially last names, goes against all our training. We do not know who is on the other side of the line, and I have been told, there were times, when last names were given, and the caller would then look up the person in the phonebook and call the listed number.

So.......hopefully, we did well.

Other than that, a girl who was there for a few weeks has already quit....and, I don't know what happened with that other girl mentioned earlier. The night supervisor has a vacation coming up in two weeks, and the other night girl is leaving to get married and move to GA at the beginning of July....which, the manager has yet to know.

I mentioned that I want to work the afternoon/overnight shift, but, I don't think I'm ready. Though I have shown remarkable improvement, I think it may still be a bit premature to think I can handle being alone at this place, should everything go wrong at once (there are radios connected to some of our accounts, there's weather radios, that if something wonky is happening, I'd have to page it out, there is one account that uses an automated voice to call in case something is down in the field, there are pagers that go off in case something is down in the field, not to mention the emergency calls we would get from people needing a fire put out, an on call nurse, something has gone down in the field, or the non-emergency disgruntled people who are upset that I cannot help them with something, when they were told and the number they called says, "24 Hour Customer Support".

...And speaking about that last account, no, no I do NOT have an accent. Just because I ask people what TOWN do they live in and they hear TIME does not mean it's on my end.....Clearly it's their hearing....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Jaerb

Hey all. I was informed that "real" bloggers blog everyday. With that in mind and with me anxious to do a bit of typing, here we go. It'll be short, but, for all of you interested, and I know there are plenty, here it is.

I quit my old job after two months, one week. The short story (and I hope to expand on this one day), is the boss, after I asked her what time does she want me to come in tomorrow (which was Saturday), she said that's what she wanted to talk to me about. I had been working the past three days there for three hours a day, and it still seemed like I was putting in a full day's work. She asked me if I wanted the job and I said no. She asked me if I was looking for other employment and I said yes. She told me she wanted me to take the weekend and pray about it (i.e., do not come in on Saturday). We talked some more. Towards the end of the conversation, she asked me if I was coming in on Saturday (uh, just said...). She didn't ask me as a test, I don't think, but, because she really is that loopy.

I called her house up on Monday (the shop is closed that day but she does door-to-door missionary work), and left a message saying I tender my resignation (and a friend, a grown friend with children encouraged me to say that because she probably wouldn't know what, "tender," means in this context....have I mentioned the "2:47" remark?) and I will be in on Friday to collect my paycheck.

And I did. I went in on Friday and she said she wanted me to read something. She handed me an envelope with the contract I signed, the things I wrote for her that I said I could do for her to make her business grow, and a slip of paper that said, "Remember the contract you signed." Yes. I remember. It said that if I quit on Janell before the six months I said I'd work for her, she has the right to keep my last paycheck. I remember because I typed it that way (before it read like if one quit or if one was fired...but, not those words). I told her, while she was styling somebody's hair, "Yes, I remember, and I worked last Friday for three hours. That is my last paycheck." "Oh, I'm going to give it to you. I just wanted to make sure you remembered." Heh. Yeah, I remembered.

Incidentally, my last paycheck, 3 hours at $6. She can keep that under $20 (although, by rights, legally I should have it).

So, I wasn't looking for work, really, but, taking the time to further unpack my stuff into this house (which I had to move stuff and pack stuff and throw away stuff in) to make it more mine. The only thing I did (and there's a little bit more to this story as well) was go to the city's Police Dep't the Friday of the week I didn't work and picked up an application to be the Dispatch/Operator here in town. It was 24 pages.

I figured I'd work on it over the weekend. It was due the 29th.

On Tuesday Morning, 0500, I still hadn't finished, I figured I'd go to bed, get some rest, wake up, finish it, and hand it in comfortably that afternoon.

At 0800 I got a call from the answering service here in town. They wanted me to interview there. There's more to this story, but, after checking a reference, they hired me. I began Thursday at 2200.

I will work part time afternoons (and weekends) for Oklahoma Minimum Wage. It is more hours and more money (and taxes deducted) than I was making at Janell's.

It's more high stress than the other answering service where I worked, but, I am still getting a feel for it.

I hope to blog more later. ...Perhaps tomorrow.