Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CSR Blues

When I was working as a customer service rep, it was way back in the stone age of green screens and Winblows 4.1. I liked the job. Sure, you got some real nasty arrogant blowhards sometimes, and other times it was a constant stream of calls, but for the most part it was a pretty fun job. It's something I wouldn't mind doing again.

I was thinking what it would be like if I were a CSR today. If I wanted to be one, more than likely I would have to move to India or the Philippines. Moving to the Philippines, that would be no problem. There are plenty of call centers in Cebu, the province where my wife comes from, or in Manila, where her brothers and their families live.

Then I was thinking, with all the fast computers and databases today, what would it be like to get a call from a lonely elderly person (LEP), and how would I handle it?

I could see myself taking orders for a retailer selling music, say, one with the biggest collection of music ever. You name it, they have it, and it is all indexed in their computer database.

Here's how I figure a call from a LEP today would go if I were working there.

Me: Hello, this is The Music Warehouse. John speaking. How may I help you?
LEP: Huh? What is this? The Music Whorehouse?
Me: No, sir, this is the Music Warehouse, your source for every type of music you can imagine. How may I help you?
LEP: Oh, that's different. For a minute there, I thought I had contacted a musical whorehouse.
Me: Well, sir, if that is what you are looking for . . .
LEP: No son, that's ok. I'm too old for that.
(Next comes a fifteen minute overview of his life.)
Me: Well, sir, are you looking for some music today?
LEP: Well, yes I am.
(That is a cue for an in depth analysis of his musical tastes, bands he's seen, and how music is different today from what it was years ago. That takes another ten minutes)
Me: Ok, so what specifically are you looking for?
LEP: Maybe some Jazz. I like Jazz. I remember when . . .
Me: Yes sir, we have a very extensive collection of Jazz. Anything specific you are looking for ?
LEP: Well, I always liked Eric Clapton.
Me: (by now I know it's suicidal to point out that Eric Clapton plays Rock and Roll, and Blues, instead of Jazz.)
I'm happy to tell you, Mr ______ that we have the full Eric Clapton catalogue available.
LEP: That's great news.
(Uh-oh! He's going to want me to read out everything on the list!)
I remember seeing him in concert when I was in England right after my second divorce from my first wife. Now she was . . .
(I will spare you what follows, and my desperate attempts to steer the conversation to the topic at hand. Let's just say it takes a while)
Me: (getting back from a desperately needed bathroom break)
Which album or song are you looking for?
LEP: What instrument does he play?
Me: (I turn off the mic so I can grumble to myself. Always make sure your mic is turned off if you are going to let off steam during a call)
He plays the guitar.
LEP: He just plays the guitar? Do you have any albums where he plays something other than the guitar?
Me: I can check for you. What kind of instrument were you thinking of?
LEP: Do you have anything where he plays the tuba?
Me: (Trying not to burst out laughing)
Just a moment, and I will check for you.
(The mic goes off again, and it takes a few minutes for me to stop laughing. In the meantime, he keeps asking if I am still there)
Uh, yes, we do have some selections with Eric Clapton playing the tuba.
LEP: (genuinely surprised) Really?
Me: No kidding. We have the largest selection of music available in the world.
LEP: Wow! That's really great! Things have really changed. I can remember-
(You can imagine what comes next)
Me: So can I place an order for you?
LEP: I'm not sure. I have to make sure it's the type of music I am looking for.
ME: Just what type of music are you looking for?
LEP: Well, it's a present for my granddaughter. She just graduated from college, and
(Uh-oh! There he goes again!)
Me: What type of music does she like?
LEP: Well, I think she's always liked that rapper guy, the one with the bald head who dressed like a thug? What's his name?
(Of course, he's just described at least 90% of rappers, living or dead)
Me: Is he a white rapper or a black rapper.
LEP: Black. He was killed.
(That narrows it down, but not by much)
Me: You don't know his name?
LEP: Toothpick something. Toothpick Champur or something like that.
Me: Tupac Shakur?
LEP: Yeah, I think that's it.
Me: So you want to buy her a cd by Tupac Shakur?
LEP: No. I want to buy her something by Eric Clapton.
Me: Ok, so which Eric Clapton selection would you like?
LEP: I don't know. Can you read the list to me?
(hardly likely)
Me: How about the one with Eric Clapton playing the tuba? That's got to be a collectors item, and it's bound to be worth a lot someday.
LEP: Well, I don't know. Say, do you have any albums where Eric Clapton plays the greatest hits of Tupac Shakur on the tuba?
Me: (Checking the list) Uhhh, yes I do, sir.
LEP: Ok. But is it polka music?
Me: Let me see if I have this right. You want an album where Eric Clapton plays polka versions of the greatest hits of Tupac Shakur on the tuba?
LEP: Yup. Do you have it?
Me: Yup.
(The line goes dead)
Do you want it? The computer says his version of "All Eyes on Me", was a number one hit in Albania in 1997.
LEP: I'm not sure.
(Must. Overcome. Urge. To Kill! Must. Overcome. Urge. To Kill!)
Me: WHY?
LEP: (mumbles something that sounds like:) I'll have to call you back. My neighbor is being abducted by aliens again.
(Hangs up)
(I go in the bathroom and scream my lungs out)

Uhhhh. Nevermind. I think it's easier to remain a teacher!