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....

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