I have a friend who recently acquired a customer service job. The things she tells me about the customers who call in and how they speak to her, is just astounding, hence the recent jokes I’ve been posting on Twitter. And no, they aren’t exaggerated at all since most of y’all know my sarcastic twang to exaggerate things.
While the company itself is an awful corporation, the customers who call in aren’t any better themselves. Phone calls range from people crying to people yelling and cursing as if their misbehavior on the phone is supposed to scare you into making things happen.
Sadly, the job has these customer service reps hands tied because they can only do so much.
In a “normal” corporate world, when an assistant needed to connect with someone outside her team organization within the company, it was customary to connect via email or a phone call to let them know a customer was in need of assistance.
Not at this job.
Apparently, their unrealistic policies are set up to accuse an employee of “coaching”. When I asked my friend what did that mean, it was what I explained up above. Emailing someone within the organization was forbidden and considered coaching. I’m like okay I’m a bit confused. Coaching is when you’re assisting someone if they need help in an area of their lives to improve.
I think we are all clear on the meaning of coaching. It’s not a bad thing. But within this disorganization, it is.
Not every day goes by where there are relentless customers screaming their asses off, but understandably so when someone has been calling week after week waiting on a service that needs to be completed and all they get is someone on the other end on the phone reading notes because they can’t do much of anything else. Bad for the rep, bad for the customer.
So, I decided to do some research on this company, which we will keep anonymous for obvious reasons.
The company was founded around the 1990s and soon thereafter began merging with smaller companies becoming a conglomerate for certain cities and even monopolizing large counties, giving customers no choice but to use their services. A few years later they became a traded company. While nothing wrong with becoming a traded company, the person at the head of the corporation, which would be the CEO along with everyone else on top, almost 99% of the time aren’t thinking about their customers and the employees who are the real runners of the company, they are solely looking at numbers and how it would benefit their pockets.
Once my friend told me about what was going on, I already can see a variety of problems.
First let’s look at the monopolization of smaller companies. Corporations thrive on being bigger and better. But, as a corporation when you want to acquire another company, what are the benefits for both the company and the company being acquired. A bigger company doesn’t waltz in to the smaller company and say we are taking over and throw everyone out. However, bigger store chain companies can easily shift the smaller mom and pop shop out. When these types of company’s storm in, not only are they offering better pricing, but exclusive coupons, deals and sales where a mom-and-pop shops may not offer. That’s not to say smaller companies don’t benefit from acquired by a bigger company, it all depends.
Let’s use a fictitious consulting firm as an example.
Susie started a small consulting firm. Her customer base are small mom and pop companies like flower shops, unique eatery places, and e-commerce businesses. Sometimes she works special projects out of her business realm with independent writers.
Susie has her work cut out for her. She has hired a small team within the concentrated areas of her business, so their clients have dedicated consultants they can rely on within those specialized fields.
Susie’s business has been an outstanding success for the last five years, which now shows a generous profit, surpassing the “struggle” of the first 1 to 3 years of her business. As a result of her success, she now has potential clients seeking her services. However, the process has become overwhelming and what started off as a small close-knit company, where she was able to use a management software for accounting and payroll purposes, has now grown to about 30 employees. Susie had to hire an accountant along with a small payroll team since outsourcing to a payroll company wasn’t cost effective for her budget.
Because Susie likes to keep on top of every aspect of her business, she’s had to set up meetings with the accountant to make sure bills were getting paid as well as their invoices were met and paid on time. She also had to ensure the time cards everyone was submitting in were accurate so her employees can get paid without issues.
In addition to having these meetings, she also had to extend herself to her employees who were meeting with current clients and potential new clients. Susie was particular about who the firm represented and consulted and because they were continually growing, it didn’t mean everyone who walked into their door was a client they wanted to represent. Therefore, she participated in face-to-face meetings, conferences and phone calls with her other consultants before making a final decision.
There was a big name conglomerate who had contacted Susie in the interest of acquiring her firm, who had an outstanding clientele in their consulting book. They had contacted her several times for a meet and greet in the hopes to get Susie’s company onboard with them. The conglomerate had high paying clients, some who owned chain store brands. The conglomerate company were also interested in having an area of business where consultants worked for small businesses without having to build it from the ground up.
Now looking at it from the outside, one can think, as a client, having a consulting firm that large representing me can help me in ways I couldn’t imagine. Plus, if the fees stay the same, the client now benefits with low fees and a higher exposure to reach customers within their small business.
As for Susie, the consultant/CEO, now can have the opportunity for immediate growth. The conglomerate can offer her a book of clients she probably didn’t have a reach before. She can focus on her love for consulting while someone else in the corporation can run the day to day, who’s also known at the Operations Manager.
However, Susie may have to give up a lot more than just a day to day and that personal face to face relationship with clients.
She may have to give up how she runs and owns her business because now it will be under the conglomerate. Which means paperwork would have to be submitted to change the status of her business (i.e. LLC, Partnership, etc.). She and the CEOs of the bigger company would have to discuss a salary, titles, any stock options and how she will fit into their firm and if that fit will include her as a board member participating in companywide decisions.
Her accountant, payroll employees will now be employed with the bigger company, if there is a need for them. If there isn’t a need, they will work temporarily to complete the merge and probably get a buyout package – if the CEOs of the bigger company make that option available.
On top of that, her employees who have dedicated their five years plus to Susie, will now be employed by the conglomerate and having to consort to their corporate policies as opposed to maybe the freedoms of a smaller office.
Some of her employees may forego having to resort to a corporate lifestyle and take Susie’s clients if no agreement was set in place in the event of the company being sold or acquired.
While Susie may get a handsome package for leveraging her consulting firm to a conglomerate, she is also giving up control on decision making for her company and the employees she brought with her. She can also be terminated as a result of any changes the bigger corporation can go through.
As you can see, getting acquired can have its perks, and in the same breath, it’s hurting employees who benefited from working for a small business helping other small businesses prosper.
When companies start buying up smaller companies and aren’t tending to their current customers, it becomes a big issue. CEOs have been known to run corporations through power and greed and do very little thinking about the betterment of the company as a whole or even the employees for that matter who are doing the brunt of the work.
Hence, we go back to, “why people are quitting their jobs”.
The example I gave is one of the reasons. The bigger issue here is how people today are being treated in a customer service driven industry. There have been countless videos all over Tiktok and Instagram, even Twitter (even though Twitter is now the low grade scale of social media next to Facebook), of people attacking restaurant workers for not getting ketchup with their meal, or their soup had plastic in it, so let me throw the soup in the cashier’s face.
People have become too full of themselves thinking the world needs to stop on their behalf because they say so.
Yes, as a person who may contact customer service about something I may not be happy with, I do keep in mind, the person answering the phone isn't the one personally attacking me or playing around with my account because they have nothing better else to do. These attitudes go beyond the standards of rude behavior and baby tantrums. It's that volatile behavior from those customers that have employees basically saying, "fuck this". Especially when it's "unprofessional" to curse back at these customers.
Not too long ago, my family and I ventured out to get some fast food and, “surprise”, the only way to get it was through drive through, which my father hates but he will have to get over himself on that. But you see that’s a primary example, he doesn’t like drive throughs so forget about ordering from there. My father is not the type of person to drive through a drive through to argue why they can’t get in, he will just not order from there and find another place.
Not even thinking, there’s a reason why it’s like this for now. Maybe because they got attack by a person crying about something they didn’t get.
While it’s not old news about people and their antics at food places, the behaviors of customers have gotten way out of control.
When my friend told me how these customers talk down to her, they don’t realize they can be talking to a person who’s putting themselves through school or any other situation may have occurred for them to have this job.