A losing strategy

TLDR: mostly good employees, bad policies that undercut the possibility of good staff, company values attention to extreme minutiae over customer satisfaction and performance, I was let go for trifles, my manager was an abysmal failure. Most of the people I worked with were your typical young, fun, cheerful people. I myself am very outgoing and by the end of my first week out of training, I had made friends with almost everyone on the customer service floor, including managers and supervisors. (Managers are are like mini-bosses of a section of about 7-10 people. Supervisors are basically the managers’ assistants) I should have been more concerned when about 15 more people in addition to my 8-strong training class were hired within three weeks, and that there was a permanent training staff on the payroll, but I ignored those warning signs and focused on my work satisfying customers instead. I’m a people pleaser, and just meeting me you’d see that. You can hear my smile and my genuine concern over the phone, I can’t help that I care, it’s my personality.

Let’s get down to why I was let go. I was placed on probation for:

1. Telling a customer to send us a picture of her tickets (a common practice) when her concern was a “known issue.” (that “known issue” was only known because I had brought a similar case to the attention of a manager who then published a company-wide message about a the specific event, so yea, I was the very first person to know knew about that issue. However this circumstance was about a related but separate event, under a similar broad event category. I would rather assist the customer and double check to make sure nothing was wrong than assume that it was ok. Apparently being concerned for the customer is wrong),

2. Twice requesting that the team that handles emails to send an email to a customer rather than doing it myself (even when a long established team member of our seller team made many of those same requests in the team request pool, two of which I documented and showed to our newer supervisor, who told me she would be designing a short training course and would be including that in what not to do).

3. Twice talking to customers I wasn’t supposed to, yet assisting them just as the proper agent would have and leaving them satisfied.

4. Once talking to a customer in an unprofessional manner, with the coaching of 3 high-level staff in a situation I wasn’t trained about, and should not have been handling.

5. Telling a new supervisor that she was being mean when she phrased a public message hurtfully.

Remember I spoke to roughly 50 customers a day and handled roughly 20-30 system customer issues a day. (My stars will back me up). At that point I had handled 1,500-2,250 issues and spoken to 3,750 people. I had talked to 3 people incorrectly, and handled 3 issues wrong. Less than .001% error. So yea, I didn’t cost the company money, assisted all but one of the customers politely, professionally, and with warmth, but I made some very few procedural mistakes within my first 75 days. That should be practically expected of a new employee. Oh and I was never late, not once, and consistently had very high performance numbers, usually within the top two of my team on at least 5 out of roughly 9 metrics. The stats are there to prove it. My performance was high enough that out of a dozen or more CS agents of my level, I was 1 of only 2 to get a monthly bonus. I had many customer’s tell me I made their day, tell me they liked me/my demeanor, and complement me otherwise for putting them at ease. I was always quick to give out my personal extension and let customers know they could reach my directly anytime.¬†Between a week or two after probation I was told that there were two strikes against me that were the reasons I was being let go. The horrible things?

1. I successfully assisted a customer I wasn’t supposed to talk to. I wasn’t supposed to talk to a customer who was not allowed into an event by the venue staff, however, if the customer was silly and didn’t follow instructions, i was allowed to tell the customer what what they did wrong and what they needed to do to get in. There’s a fine line between being denied access and the customer being silly. I was able to instruct the customer properly, since they didn’t do what they were supposed to and they were able to get in. Does that mean that they were truly denied access, or does that mean they didn’t follow instructions? Fine line. The boss man decided to call it a no go.

2. I didn’t take a test about the Super Bowl. Agents of my level are not allowed to take calls about the Super Bowl. Anything Super Bowl related that landed on my phone line was to be treated as immediate high level priority and I had to give it to an agent two levels above me. There was a test placed in the company-wide message board about the Super Bowl. Being told anything to do with that event is not my jurisdiction, and not receiving any instructions from my manager abut taking the test, I didn’t take it for fear of getting in trouble.

Being on probation for such small matters in the first place, I treated everything super gently. The boss man tells me, “yea everyone’s being written up for not taking that test.” Well EXCUSE ME! If “everyone” (his exact words) is being written up for not doing something, perhaps it’s the fault of the company for not doing a better job of letting people known the test is for all levels, and not EVERYONE’s fault. What a perfect example of the stupidity of their policies.

Bottom line, this company values robot-like precision and slave-like obedience over hard work and actually being good at making customers happy. I was consistently diligent enough to get a monthly bonus awarded to only 1 other member of my level, and had some of the highest stats on my team week in and week out. I was constantly praised by customers and got along with and brought cheer to everyone in the office. And I was let go-within the first 90 days of my employment!-for making small mistakes that didn’t even dissatisfy customers nor affect the bottom line.

Most people here see this job a stepping stone to their future, a temporary money-bus on the road to their true career. I let my trainer and my manager know that I wanted this to be my career, took it seriously. I’m good at customer satisfaction, I work hard. I wanted to grow within the company, and my performance reflected my ambition, but do they give a shit? No. They have a full-time training staff because they can’t find good people to stay because they fire anyone who doesn’t bend over and check all the boxes right the first time. They basically throw everyone who applies at the wall to see who sticks, sacking many good people.¬†Almost everyone who works there, mangers and supervisors included, has been there for 2 years or less. This is an 11 year old company! If you actually like helping people and working hard, this job is not for you. If you want a temporary position with decent pay and good benefits and you can work like a mindless drone, this is the company for you!

This next portion of this review is me ranting about my manager. She made me miserable and I need to get it off my chest. Take it or leave it. While I made friends with every other manager and supervisor in the place, I Unfortunately, got the only bad manager in the there. She would always say that she was happy to answer any questions, but there was no conviction or emotion in her voice when she said it. When she looked at you and whenever she-rarely-smiled, her eyes remained cold and emotionless. It was clear that she did not want to help, and nearly everyone in my section expressed distaste for her and a preference for avoiding asking her questions, preferring to ask other managers or supervisors (our supervisor gave off an air of unapproachable-ness too their tag line in the inter-office chat was “have you checked [the company database] yet?”). Even people not in my section talked poorly of her attitude, from her avoiding eye contact to turning away when spoken to. In all our coaching meetings, I only remember her saying one positive thing about me. She would always focus on what I was doing wrong, negative, negative, negative; so demoralizing. She even told me to “learn your role and don’t try to find out more than you need to know” not to “give the reasons for your actions just take the criticism, admit your mistakes and learn from them” she wanted me to just kowtow, bend the knee, and shut up. Oh, and the trainer specifically asked me to come to him with things I found that weren’t covered in training so he could improve the curriculum. When she found that out, she made it clear she wanted me to stop doing that because “it’s not your place.” What am I, a contributing member of a team, or a servant?

Additionally, she would never give me specifics, I had to corner her to give me a sound-byte for a difficult situation or example of what she meant. She would always talk in such vague generalities. Talk about a word twister, I was constantly trying to follow her direction, but she would give me wrong advice seemingly on purpose. Her directions were just vague enough that I would have to use interpretation and just specific enough that she could then tell me I wasn’t doing what she asked. For example, after I was trained on the email system and when she saw that I did a number of emails, she told me not to focus on emails, to just work on [other CS aspects]. Then when I brought that up in our coaching meeting saying “I haven’t done any emails just focused on those other aspects as you told me.” she said, “I didn’t say not to do any emails, I said not to focus on them, if you don’t have anything to do you should do some emails.” That’s just one of many examples I could give. After two of each of our coaching meetings, I sent her follow-up emails with specific questions to improve my work. The first time, when she didn’t respond for a week I asked her about it, and before I could even finish my question she held up her hand and said “I got your email and I’ll answer it, just be patient.” Never got a response. Second meeting, second email follow-up, no response.

If you’re reading this, dear manager, I may not be working with you any longer, but I will always be a nice and happy person that everyone respects and get’s along with. You are stuck being a miserable person who nobody likes. I feel sorry for you. I could go into your appearance too, but why beat a dead horse?

Posted in Workrant.

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