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Call Centre staff

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Call Centre staff

Comments for: Call Centre staff
woberto Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 06:00AM

SMH - September 25, 2007 - 2:33PM

What could you do in 12 seconds?

For staff at a Melbourne call centre for internet service provider Netspace, one-fifth of a minute is allegedly considered time enough for a rest break between calls.

Staff have also allegedly been told they are now only to leave their desks four times a day - during set breaks - in an effort to increase the number of calls handled.

A former employee said some technical support staff were now too scared to go to the toilet during their shifts.

Netspace did not respond to questions about their treatment of staff. Instead the company issued a statement saying it had "mutual respect" for its call centre employees.

A call centre expert has said that running a call centre using only statistics "burns staff out".

The information about the way call centre staff are treated at Netspace was brought to the attention of by Tom Oliveri, 16, of Victoria.

Tom, who was working as a member of the technical support staff at the company, is best known for fooling technology blog site Gizmodo into believing he was a senior executive at Google and publishing a fake Apple rumour he wrote.

Tom, who was on an Australian Workplace Agreement, was fired by Netspace on Friday. The teenager said he was dismissed after he revealed he was going to write a letter of complaint to the company.

An email from Netspace to Tom, supplied to by the teenager, states that he had been fired during his six months' probation period due to "performance reasons".

"The workplace is a bit like a morgue now," he said.

"Because we weren't able to go into 'not ready' [mode], it meant we weren't able to leave our desks. So people just wouldn't go. And because we couldn't log out of the phone, I know people who would skip one of their breaks if they logged out."

Tom said he did not want to return to the company.

"My motive at the end of the day is to make a better workplace for my friends," he said.

The teenager said that staff at the call centre were now too scared to go to the toilet after Netspace allegedly sent out an email castigating their performance.

A copy of the email was obtained from Tom.

The email, sent to staff on August 30, read: "[The company has] spent the last couple of days reviewing the key statistics and key performance indicators for the department and [is] quite troubled by what [we] have seen.

"Fundametaly [sic] it boils down to this, we are not answering our customers calls quickly enough.

"Whilst there are a number of reasons for this ... the biggest single problem is that people within the department are not available to take calls for enough of their shift. Be this becouse [sic] they are logged off of the phones, in a not ready state or any number of other reasons.

"This must cease, and must cease now."

In the lengthy email, staff were told they were to log out of their phones only four times a day.

"[Y]ou will log into the phone at the commencement of your shift, log out at your first 15 minute break, log back in when you return from this break, log out for your lunch break, log back in when you return from you lunch break, log out for your second 15 minute break, log back in when you return and stay logged in until the end of your shift," the email stated.

"If you are unavailable to take calls for any other reason, you will put your phone in not ready, you will not under any circumstance log out. In the event that you have more than four logins and outs over your shift, you will be expected to explain why this has happened."

Later on in the email, the 12 second programmed delay between calls is discussed.

"This time is intended to be used for composing yourself for the next call and selecting the screens you will need to assist the customer," the email stated.

"This should be all the time that you require, I do not expect to see agents going into a not ready state after each call so that you can complete tasks related to it. You need to be completing these tasks (such as filling in RT, client info etc) whilst on the call with the customer. I can appreciate that this level of multitasking may be difficult for someone new to the department as they learn, however it should become a matter of course within a week or two. Any agents who are seen to be doing this will be asked to explain why they are unable to work in this fashion."

In a written statement to, Netspace co-founder Richard Preen said: "Netspace is committed to good customer service and good staff relations based on mutual respect. It does not encourage email pranks, either by speculating, or engaging in protracted correspondence, about them."

Call centre expert Niels Kjellerup said call centres should not be run through the use of statistics.

"When you start using statistics that shows that you are a call factory rather than a customer satisfaction producer," Mr Kjellerup, senior partner at consultancy Resource International, said.

"It burns staff out, it takes away their pride, it takes away their ability to provide good customer service."

He said this sort of management happened when the centres were "hard pressed to make calls with fewer people".

"The only way you can do it is look at where do the seconds go. It demotivates, it makes for bad treatment of customers and whoever they're doing it for is not getting their money's worth. They're not producing happy customers."
shaDEz Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 06:31AM

yeah... so fucking typical... americanization, capitalism run amock... it is time for us worker in the srvice industry to wake up and stop working for this fucking american style management
i will not be using netscape in any fashion anylonger
and consumers need to wake up as well... but they are glued to their fucking tv's
what if their tv's were to suddenly malfunction? then what?
this cunt tree needs to be destroyed... is the only solution
ahhh what a bloddy revolution it will be
too bad as well...
DarkKlown Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:03AM

For the early part of my career i had the displeasure of working in a few small call centres. Not the best job in the world, any surprise they are outsourced to 3rd world countries.

I've also had a few beers with the Netscape owners in the past, nice guys, however I doubt I'd ever work for them.

Whats stated in the article doesn't seem any different to any other call centre where i have friends/family working. It's a means to a ends. No one forces you to work in one and if you do expect to have your nose so pressed to the grind stone that you can't breath.
Mint Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:09AM

Putting myself through school working customer service for a major credit card company, i can tell ya its the sh ts. If you are dimwitted, slow, completely clueless person that never stops smilin, you might enjoy CS. Having to deal with so many utterly stupid people on a daily basis has made me close to homicidal. Seriously. People will call in and be like "I didnt automorize this charge on my credic card (yes the spelling is intentional). Who is this company, Purchase Finance Charge. I never give them my number!" UHG.

Oh yea..the topic. That said this article still made me laugh. 12seconds. I guess they dont even expect people to wash their hands.
Mint Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:11AM

ah nevermind. i see now the 12 seconds was for while you were still at the desk. Makes perfect sense that way. 12 seconds is actually very generous. I hear stories of AOL having hour long queue times. Imagine if people waited 12 seconds between calls.
shaDEz Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:17AM

yes, but what other opts are there really...
hell i went exactly four years not employed( i mean not employed, instead of un-employed... huge difference!) in the good ole "u.-s." of "-a."
it is all there is here... service industry
and we have no rights! only in the manufacturing inustry did we have any rights...
and those have all been outsourced to third world shit holes; where none of the people have any rights...
not that i am suggesting that people in those places should'nt have any rights either... hell, we're encouraging them to take a stand as well...
but at this rate, us in more "priveledged" cunt-trees won't have any rights either!
well, i don't really expect anyone to listen, as they are all glued to their fucking tv sets, but rather to just to escape from this before it's too late for me