Over on Steemit, there is an “Open Mic Comedy” contest that runs each week but you can only take part if you are nominated. One Steemian invited me a few weeks ago but never got round to posting something until now but I thought I would share the amusing stories from my day job in customer service here on Trybe as well. I hope ye enjoy.
Before I start with the entry, a big thanks to dandays for the nomination from his funny post, taking us on a journey of “wtf” and #awks moments! It’s taken me a while to think of something amusing to enter for the contest but I thought I’d share with you some experiences I have had in my current temp job of Technical Support (Customer Service).
Currently, I am working at a company that manufactures scientific equipment and, like with any machinery that gets used a lot (or even if the equipment has been sat in a lab for months or in some cases years), they will need servicing or they breakdown. This is where a Customer Service department comes in and there have been some amusing incidents that may well cause you to do this… and often:
It’s not the most glamorous of positions but I somehow ended up doing a temporary job at said company where, effectively, I am on a team…sorry, I AM the team and I like to think of myself as the “Guardian of the Phones” (sounds a little more epic than “Service Rep”). Nonetheless, if I am not around to pick up the phone, well… no-one else will.
Since I started the role, I have probably answered the phone at least 100 times and I have started developing a few games to help get through the monotony of taking calls. I’d sooner do this and sound like a human rather than sound like one of those robotic reps you usually hear that are only able to stick to a script and any deviation from that script causes a system malfunction and a few “errr… umm” moments later, you wonder if you have become one of them…
So, let’s play the patented “Nicky Havey’s Customer Service Sanity Check” game, starting off with…
The “Fun-etic” Alphabet
Get used to the dad jokes and puns here folks
I am of course talking about the phonetic alphabet, which was created by NATO to ensure the correct spelling of words were made when communicating by radio or old telephones where the signal wasn’t clear. A for Alpha, B for Bravo and so on and so forth. If you want, you can read the full history from Wikipedia here. Before I started this job, I had some idea of the letters but I decided to print off the phonetic alphabet and pinned it on the notice board just behind my computer screen so I can see it (tricks of the trade folks, tricks of the trade).
Here is the NATO phonetic alphabet [Source]
Now, even in today’s age, phone signal isn’t always great and a lot of our customers have loud machinery going in the background so it’s pretty important I get the spelling right of email addresses so our engineers can contact the customer back once I’ve taken the details.
However, it seems that some customers aren’t quite sure what the NATO phonetic alphabet is and as someone was trying to spell their name “Susan”, well, it went a bit pear-shaped. In fact, Susan itself is pretty easy to spell and I didn’t even need to check it but the customer felt compelled anyway:
Customer – “Susan” so that’s S for….sugar, um… U for er…. “you know”…
Me – That’s a “y”?
Customer – Oh yea, umbrella? Then it’s S for sugar, A for… Apple, N for, hmm.. “no”?
Me – Well, I think I got that (stifled laughter)
Customer – At least we are getting a laugh out of it. I can do my surname if you want?
Me – No it’s OK I have found you on the system
In fairness, she was laughing about it as well but then, after finishing on the phone with “Sugary You Know” Susan, I had a light bulb moment… What if we created a brand new alphabet based around Food & Drink? I shared this idea with some other reps who work in a different department (let’s face it, waiting for phones to ring can get tedious, especially if they don’t ring) and we made a start on one. If you have any ideas for the missing letters below, please feel free to chime in!
We have started using these and have to say, “Vodka” is a tough one to slide in. Ironic, as it’s also tough to slide down the throat! So there you go – the Fun-etic Alphabet!
“Serial Number Dedication”
Oh yes, another classic game here and one I get to enjoy on a daily basis. In order to log the customer call (and hence get a service visit organised) it’s imperative I have the Serial Number of the machine that’s broken down. In fact, it’s so imperative that as the customer goes through the telephone options to get to technical support (me), it’s mentioned 3 times.
Still, “It’ll be alright”, thinks the customer, “That’s just there as filler material to pad out an otherwise dry waiting experience.” This is where I get a chance to test their dedication to the Serial Number…
Me – Good morning, Tech Support Nicky Havey speaking?
Customer – Ah yes good morning, I have an issue with a machine?
Me – Ok, let’s see what we can do, have you got the serial number?
Customer – Actually no, I haven’t, do you need it?
Me – Well… it will speed up the process if you have it?
Customer – Ok, let me find it, where would it be?
Me – It’s usually on the back of the machine where the power cable is (said with hand beginning to approach the face with an open palm)
Customer – Ah ok, it’s in a bit of an awkward position so I may have to climb on the machine and shout it out to you, I’ll just put you on the machine, hold on (drops phone on the floor) – Oh sorry! I dropped you, hold on!
Me – OK! Not to worry!
Customer – (Faintly) Just moving the machine now, I hope no-one from health and safety sees me doing this!!
Classic – I mean, I could have just asked this particular customer which company they are calling from and then found it in the system but they were SO keen to go ahead to find the Serial Number I wasn’t going to stop them having fun… or me for that matter haha!
On the other side of the “Serial Number Dedication” spectrum, some customers really aren’t that talkative or dedicated to getting a service visit arranged to fix their machine AT ALL! One great call I had went something like this:
Customer – Hello, I have an issue with my machine?
Me – OK, have you got the Serial Number?
Customer – No.
Me – OK, do you have anything with the serial number on like Purchase Order or lab report?
Customer – No.
Me – Oh right, can you tell me where you are calling from please?
Customer – No.
Me – Company Name?
Customer – No.
Me – Ok… I… Can you send an email?
The “Pre-Service” Service
Finally, there are those who adopt the approach from the film Minority Report (where crimes are prevented before they are committed). It seems that asking for Technical Support isn’t just for machines you have already bought as this next call unfolded:
Customer – Hello, I’d like some technical support on a machine please?
Me – Certainly, have you got the Serial Number there?
Customer – Well, I haven’t actually bought the machine yet?
Me – I’m sorry?
Customer – Yea I just need some technical support on it before I buy it?
Me – Ok, and where are you calling from? (I usually ask this question as it refers to the company name the customer is calling from so I can at least find them on the system)
Customer – Berkshire (He literally answered based on location – Berkshire is a county in the UK)
Well, this ended up being forwarded to Sales and I have no idea if the guy bought the machine or not but it’s a bit like booking your car in a for a service before you’ve actually bought the car!!
So that’s my entry for the Comedy Open Mic – Serial Number 39 (had to clamber over the blockchain – see what I did there) with thanks to the Steemians for challenging me to write something and try to be amusing. Hope you got a giggle out of it.