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The “Hell-oween” of Customer Service


“Would you recommend to a fiend?”

To get into the Halloween spirit, I browsed the web for horror stories that frighten call center agents—and their supervisors as well.

The ones not told at Working Solution University because such scary things are, well, best left unsaid.

Besides, if known, no one would believe you on Glassdoor. There’s no place to rank: “Would you recommend to a fiend?”

Now, I didn’t find too many recent crypt-keeper tales. I did, however, unearth a few lingering ones with a long afterlife on Google. Right along with the walking dead there’s the digital damned.

For instance, Talkdesk, which makes call center software, identified no less than a dozen caller personas that bedevil agents.

They include:

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who vacillates between nice and nasty.
  • The Joker, who “makes wild, theatrical requests.”
  • Voldemort, who’s something else entirely—“He-who-must-not-be-named launches into the reasons he’s calling before giving you his name and account information.”

And then there’s those things that make call center supervisors quake—beyond goblins and ghosts. In “6 Things That Scare Call Center Leaders,” Greg Levin writes about horrors beyond Halloween, such as:

  • Rampant turnover – “It’s positively frightening to think that the average contact center has an annual turnover rate of nearly 40%.”
  • Disengaged agents – “… agents who stick around – but who couldn’t care less about your company or its customers.”
  • “The power of the home agent model” – Yes, this really scares brick-and-mortar call center leaders. Levin explains this on-demand model “has the power to vastly improve such critical things,” from “agent engagement and retention” to “contact center staffing/scheduling flexibility.”

To be fair, there’s an agent dark side, too. For instance, I did come across a sad story about a customer who encountered “call center vampires”—fiends disguised as service reps.

Showing no mercy, they kept transferring him from agent to supervisor to agent, for more than two hours, sucking the very lifeblood from him.

That poor soul is now cursed, doomed forever to be a call center vampire himself, inflicting the same terminally transferred fate on other unsuspecting callers. How ghoulish.

Knowing this, we need to add a disqualifier to our agent screening process to weed out the afflicted. Better to curse the competition with them instead.

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