This week’s Discovery prompt is “The Greatest ___ in The World” which for some reason got me thinking about my Call Center job & how I learned some of the greatest lessons in the world while working there.
Last summer I reached that point of my unemployment when I needed to get a job, to pay bills & be productive, or I was going to go insane. I took a job at a Call Center, fundraising & selling subscription packages for Arts & Culture organizations. The job was great for that moment. The money was okay, the job was hard work & could be extremely boring at times. But, I only worked 4 hour shift for 5 days a week & I biked to work, which means I saved money & I still had plenty of free time. It was not the worst way to spend the summer & it sort of turned out to be a very important moment for me. It humbled me, made me grow & left me with some important life lessons.
Working in a Call Center
The best part of the job were the people. The people were absolutely fascinating. I never realized how .. homogenous my previous work places were. Sure, there were different groups of people, some unique individuals in every work place, but overall I would say we all had similar political opinions, hobbies & got our news from the same sources. Well, like hires like, especially in large organizations that looking to invest in long-term employees.
Call Center work is largely temporary & attracts people who are desperate for money or live a none 9-5 lifestyle. This leads to a very eclectic group of people working together. Students, Artists, Immigrants, Writers & the Transitional Unemployed. Everyone was from a different background. They had different political opinions & did not read the same things as I did. Some of these people did not even have a Twitter account! It revealed to me that I had been living in a bubble for many years & how could I as a Marketer truly understand the Average Canadian consumer if I was living in the Ad-Life bubble? Food for thought that one.
Then there were “the leads” or the Average Joe/Josephine we were calling. During my Ad Life I was taught that all people could be grouped into target groups, whose similar demographic & psychological make-up could help us influence their decision-making. To use open-ended questions in messaging to get people intrigued enough to pay attention or seek out more information. To build a relationship before asking for the sale.
None of which resulted in success in telemarketing. I had to learn completely new tools & tricks to be successful at this job. Asking open-ended questions gives a person a reason to say no. You can’t build a relationship because you only have 3 minutes to make a sale.
You are also dealing with a largely anonymous Individual that you know nothing about. Some of them are rude. Some of them are lonely. Some of them are assholes. To make a sale, you had to listen to the tone of their voice which told you more than the words they used, you had to build some rapport, get to the point quickly, ask for the sale, but most importantly you had to catch the person in the right moment. I once had someone say to me “Today is the Lord’s day, so keep it that way” & hang up on me because I called on a Sunday. Who knows what his answer would have been if I called on Monday?
The Greatest Lessons I Learned Working In a Call Center
Besides not calling on a Sunday, the real lessons I learned working at a Call Center are the following:
- They really mean it when they say that the call may be recorded.
- Sometimes it is just a job & you don’t have to do more than “just the job.”
- How to be constantly rejected, yet get back up & try again until you succeed.
- The importance of the 3 P’s: Patience, Perseverance & a Positive Attitude.
- It is not personal.
- If you want something you have to: Ask for it, Plan for it, Work for it.
- Everyone has a reason to say No, give them a reason to say Yes.
- No matter how big of a big shot you are, you’ve still got things to learn.
I also learned not to judge people by the standards of conventional success & not to be rude to telemarketers. You don’t know who Steve from X Company was 2 weeks ago or what crap he is going through in life. Being nice to someone who is just doing their job never killed anyone.