Brain worm

So… I haven’t written much on here lately. Main reason for that is there hasn’t been much that has driven me to write, pontificate, vent my spleen onto a pile of electronic ones and zeroes.

Until today.

I have a brain worm in my head, and I am hoping that by typing out this screed, I will do something to resolve the pressure it is exhibiting on my brain.

It was a strange little confrontation that happened at the end of the work day Friday. There is nothing I can do about it until Monday.

Except obsess over it and wonder… “What the hell…?”

I work in customer service, receiving inbound calls for a phone company. Now when I say customer service, the actual title is “Customer Sales and Service”. Note the order of the words there, the priority given.

Sales are important in this job. It is one of the primary metrics we are judged on. While the majority of our daily calls are to help sort out general questions, billing problems, and other varieties of customer service, we need to try and sell our services to people. Upgrades to their phone service. High-speed internet. Television. We have objectives that we need to meet each month, and a lot of effort is placed in our training and such on how to sell stuff to people.

I’m pretty good at my job. I’m not at the top of the office sales charts, but I am a very solid, regular performer that usually meets objectives (or exceeds them by a small margin).

I excel in three areas. One, I kick ass at customer service. Two, years of goofing around on computers have made me very adept at navigating and using the new systems that were put in place last February — which means I am (relatively speaking) fast. Third, I love puzzles. I love figuring things out, finding a solution, solving a problem. Give me a customer with a moderately complex question about their billing history (preferably one that isn’t truly angry), and I am — as the saying goes — as happy as a pig in shit. My best days are ones where I get presented with a problem, and I solve it — or at least figure out what needs to be done to solve it.

My performance reviews are regularly positive. Not A-plus top-of-the-class brilliant, but what I lack in uber-level sales performance I more than make up for in the other areas my job covers.

However, because of the emphasis on sales, there are people who obsess over them. This is especially true of the people who have a hard time meeting objectives, and don’t have the strengths in other areas to make up for it. The policies and guidelines surrounding sales, and who gets sales credit, etc etc… they undergo frequent revision to try and cut down on disputes.

This is the story of a dispute.

My last (or second-to-last) call on Friday afternoon was a callback; a customer had been speaking with another rep and had got cut off. I pulled up the customer’s account and saw the notes the prior rep left, and that they had started an order to change from a DSL-only service to a phone-and-DSL setup. I asked a couple questions to confirm what exactly was being set up, and finished the order.

It was, in my mind, customer service at work. The order was worth a few points, but I was more concerned with making sure the order got in that day (since we were close to closing) — otherwise the order would not go in until Monday, delaying the activation of the new services. All sewed up, as far as I was concerned.

Then… well… things got weird.

As I was leaving at 6pm, the rep who had originally spoken with the customer came up to me and got in my face, clearly upset. He felt that I had ‘poached’ his order, stealing it out from under him as he was writing it.

(One little detail to keep in mind here, the way our system works, anything that I add to the order gets my ID and sales code applied to it. Since there were pieces of the order that I added in order to finish things up and out the door, I would get credit for those, even though I hadn’t really negotiated the details of the order, I was more or less just filling in the blanks.)

I was a little baffled. I really didn’t know what to say. When somebody comes up and starts a confrontation like that, especially one you are in no way mentally prepared for, it knocks you a little off balance. All I could do was apologize, state that I did not know he was working on the order at the same time (no real way to do that in the system), and let him know that I would make sure he got the credit for it (which I can do by having a word with my team lead on Monday).

The two things that really stood out for me in the whole thing were two things he said. In response to my saying I would make sure he got the sales credit: “You’re damn right you will.” And the one that really knocked me for a loop (and the main reason I am still obsessing over the encounter), “It’s in your best interest to just walk away right now.”

I mean, really? The way he delivered it, it seemed that he was moments away from winding up and socking me one. And when I apologized again as he was walking back to his desk, he turned and repeated, “Just walk away.”

All this over a few points of sales credit? You’re going to threaten a co-worker over this? (Intentional or not, I was certainly threatened by his behavior.) I know our job can be high-stress at times, but this is the most extreme example of this I have ever run across. I’ve had sales opportunities that got snatched up by other reps who spoke to the customer before I did, and it can suck. I have never felt so upset about it that I felt violent.

I’m just baffled and off-balance. Monday I am going to need to deal with this. I really don’t give a damn about the sales credit, but his reaction and behavior were not cool. It is not my intention to get anybody in trouble, but I can’t let it slide either.

Hopefully getting this all down on e-paper will let me enjoy the weekend and stop obsessing so much.

Yeah, right.