the call center is where dreams go to die
Customer Service Representative (Former Employee) – Saint Petersburg, FL – December 30, 2014
Everyone I talked to about working at HSN always had very positive things to say about it. In retrospect, most of those people were talking about other various departments within the company, and not the actual call center.
For a company who lives and dies by their call center, they care very little for the employees who work in it.
The environment is less than inviting. Lighting was always an issue. Either far too glaring, or far too dark. It isn't rocket science, there are guidelines for things like that.
Most of the chairs were defective in one way or another, which makes 8+ hours of sitting in them rather taxing.
Desks were not assigned. Instead, you were assigned a team, and that team had an area, and seating was first come, first serve. Some days you might get a good seat, other days you might get the one covered in sticky, crumby, sneezy, just general grossness.
You're entire day is scheduled. Everything from when your breaks are, to lunch. Just because you work the same shift everyday doesn't mean your lunch is going to be the same time everyday. Some days you might start at 8:30 and lunch is as early as 11:30. Other days, you start at 8:30 and you don't get lunch til 1:30. Sure, you're allowed a little bit of personal time to use for restroom breaks if you need them, however, to stay within the acceptable guidelines, you had to keep that personal time down to under 6 minutes a day. Oh, did you have a phone call that ran late into your break time? All well... You should have had better call control if you wanted to take your full 15 minute break time. If you come back more... late from break, that'll count against you. Same with lunch. Hopefully you can wrap up that call, and run to the lunch area, scarf down your food, and run back and be ready to get back on the phone within your 30 minute time period. Is 30 minutes enough for lunch? its debatable. However, once you factor in the amount of time it takes to get from where you are seated, all the way across the huge warehouse to an area you are allowed to have food in, get a seat, use one of the three microwaves available, or even worse, stand in the line at the cafe to buy lunch, and the time it takes to get back to your desk and "plugged in" your lunch break is cut in half. Even worse if you have to use the restroom.
Getting there in the morning is even worse. You have to go through a security gate, which usually has a line because it is one car at a time, and your shift starts with another 50 people. Then you're fighting for parking, or you give up and just part 200 yards away from the building. Once in the building, you have another 100 yards to go to get to your seating area since the first half is all offices and event rooms. Then your search for a seat begins. Hopefully you get a computer that is functioning, and is already booted on, otherwise you're turning on your machine, getting logged in, sanitizing your desk, getting your headset plugged in, and getting the half dozen programs you need opened up so you can do your job. All of this has to happen before your shift start time, otherwise it is counting against you.
As a customer service rep, you're expected to up-sale on pretty much every call. You also have to apologize for everything, even if it is nothing to apologize for, like a quick order status update.
QA is subjective depending on who is listening to your calls at what time. You'll usually get two calls for the entire month QA'ed, and it is by the same person. Many times the rotation is for 2-3 months at a time, so if you aren't speaking the same language at the person QA'ing your call, your job is on the line before you get a different QA person. Some of the team leads are good and will help back you up, other's tell you that it is your fault for not following the guidelines and to basically shape up, or ship out.
You are expected to handle between 80 and 100 calls a day, and maintain a 3 minute talk time. they way they calculate your average however isn't exactly fair. It isn't take the total calls for the day, add it up and divide like you would expect, no, they keep a running "instant" average through the day.
So if you have 5 calls, we'll say, 2, 1, 3, 4, and 2 minutes long, you would expect your average to be 2.4 minutes.
They way they do it is:
2+1 = 3 /2 = 1.5
1.5+3 = 4.5 /2 = 2.25
2.25+4= 6.25 /2 = 3.125
3.125+2= 5.125 /2 = 2.5625
So you can see how A) it is always a little bit stacked against you and B) if you get one bad call in the beginning of the day, it becomes very very very difficult to get that talk time down.
Not only is schedule adherence and QA something that can put your job on the line, but so is talk time.
Good to know that the system is stacked against you from the beginning.
Training is a bit of a joke. At the time, training was 6 full weeks, plus additional "nesting" time after that. The first 5 weeks was a lot of feel good type stuff. It really made you feel like you were prepared and knew what to do and how to handle everything. Unfortunately, over 3 weeks is devoted to a simple sales call. Someone that calls in, knows exactly what they want, with all of the information available and a straight forward call. After that, you start to learn a bit about some of the customer service functions, but again, all very basic and very easy stuff. Week 5 is spent almost entirely watching product information videos. Really basic information, just barely enough to say you have some exposure to it, far from an expert on anything. Week 6 is "mock calls" you actually get to sit at a computer and go through the motions of taking a call and having your trainer pretend to be a customer. First time is a bit frustrating because it is so much all at once. Second time is a bit frustrating because it is such a simple call and you know you're about to start taking live calls.
Nesting is interesting because this is where you actually learn everything you needed to in training that wasn't even talked about, or if it was, was mentioned briefly. Basically all nesting is, is lowered standards as far as talk time and QA and your trainers walking around right there to answer questions. It is cramming several weeks of training into 1-2 weeks. After that, you're on your own.
One secrete they don't tell you though, is that your scores in nesting, count against you when it comes time for your review. They factor into your averages. This keeps a majority of people from being eligible to move up and out to other positions. They have the mentality that you need to master one skill set before moving onto a different one, even if that one you want it completely different than call center work. You can't move into the production department and work on building sets and props if you aren't a master of call center work. Yeah, makes sense to me. Another classic case of a company that doesn't care enough about the people working for it to work with them, realizing that not everyone fits perfectly into a mold, and instead forcing them to adhere to standards and guidelines that just don't work for them. The call center is the foot in the door for a majority of people that work there. The call center is also were a ton of amazing talent is lost because they don't master being on the phones so they aren't allowed to move to a different department.
It is a paycheck. Just don't expect any support to succeed or anything like that. Show up early, work your time, collect your paycheck until you can get yourself somewhere else to find success. less
don't really have to worry about lay offs, attrition takes care of that for them
treated like a tool to be used when needed - not a real person that is an asset to the company, pay is less than competitive, standards are very difficult to obtain, very quickly takes it toll on you