I should start by saying that I work in a call center for a major wireless company. I won’t be naming which one it is, but I will say it is a major carrier. When you call in with questions about your bill or changing your service plan, you’re talking to people like me.
I know how that sounds – and yes – there are definitely more glamorous jobs in the world, but it’s the way I get my bills paid. It sure beats the hell out of working in a retail store.
The difficult thing about working in customer service is people aren’t calling because everything’s fine and happy – they’re calling because they’re ticked off about some problem they’re having with their service. Most upset people take it out on the poor grunt on the other end, and it can take a lot of skill to calm someone over the phone. An agent will burn out in no time if they don’t know how to handle it. Those who have worked here a long time have their ways of dealing with all the frustration.
The most common method is to see the humor in it all. Agents will find they can look back at many of their most stressful or upsetting calls, and laugh about it later. There are a ton of hilarious calls that are saved within our system that we use to help teach new agents. There are callers who have made strange, animalistic shouts and yells in their anger, amazing insults that will impress even the most cynical, and of course the few lewd callers with weird fetishes. We laugh at all these people for their ridiculous behavior and pathetic attempts to get us down.
However there is one call in my experience that still chills me each time it comes to mind. It’s become something of a legend amongst my coworkers and me; a call that no one in our center can explain with any certainty.
It happened very early on a Saturday morning; just past four o’clock. Our center runs 24/7, so there’s always a graveyard shift running for the handful of late-night callers looking for some troubleshooting or emergency support. A lot of our more interesting calls come in at times like this, and that night was no exception.
I had already been working for about two hours before I got that strange call. Before then there had been nothing out of the ordinary: a guy that needed to update his iPhone to fix some texting problems, a woman who was upset about overage charges on her bill, and a bunch of people asking to defer their bills for later in the week. All of these issues are very mundane, routine stuff.
I nearly had to wait five whole minutes to receive that fateful call. When it did come in, I could tell that the number was quite distinctive. It was all a bunch of sixes.
I found the number odd, but I’m no a believer in demonic adversaries, so I remained unfazed. “Hello, thank you for calling customer service. How can I help you today?” I said. This is how I always begin a call. It’s become such a habit; I could do this all in my sleep.
This time however I was met with no reply. No muffled talking or jostling sounds either, just complete silence. A dead air call.
This may seem strange to you, but it actually happens all the time. Sometimes people accidentally call our customer service line when their phone is in their pocket, or maybe their toddler started playing with the buttons. They’re also known as ‘ghost’ calls, and I get at least one of them a day.
Read part two here.