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Lisa LeBel-Simmons

DISCLAIMER: Names have been altered to protect the client.

I have been a “Call-Center” employee nearly a dozen times in my 30-year professional working experience. I have played many characters: Agent, Trainer, Motivator and Manager. Equally all important. I have learned so many things. But NOTHING would prepare me for Mary on my first day of taking calls here at Sitel.

I had just finished with training for a new Campaign. I was on fire! I kept telling the trainer, “THROW me out there! I got this! Come on, Coach, put me in!” I was eager to rise (or fall) but I was eager, nonetheless. Yeah, I am one of those… LOL

I get on the floor and tools seem to be working. My MOJO is MAXED. I can feel the momentum. I am gonna knock it outta the ballpark! I tell myself, “You’ve GOT this Lisa!”

I get my call with Mary early on into my shift. We start idol chatting. She is a bit chatty…. She and I begin to troubleshoot and it leads me to instruct Mary. The next few moments would change the course of my life.

The sounds I heard on the other end sounded like huffing, puffing, grunting, screaming, moaning, and crying out for help. I kept hollering for her, “MARY” “ARE YOU ALRIGHT? MARY?” My voice was raised. I was in serious panic. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life. I can still hear her voice in my mind many months later. The next moments: PURE SILENCE.

I went onto CHATS with my new Coach… “Um, I know we just met and it’s my first day, but I think my customer is hurt… Do I call 911 or what is the protocol on this?” I am also Googling her nearest 911 by her home… Getting prepared. I keep calling out to her. No response.

9-10 min had passed, and I finally hear ruffling and rummaging on the floor and a table. She is ALIVE! She is wheezing and barely able to catch her breath, but she is ALIVE! She tells me, “Honey, I am 69-years old and I have COPD. I had no business trying to get that cord. I found it.. but I had no business.” I was mortified… The only thing I could think to say is, “Ma’am, listen, I am 45- and fluffy. I can’t get the cord either.” WE LAUGHED…. WE HOOTED SO HARD WE CRIED! I told her it was my first day on the job and I thought I had killed someone… and the HYSTERICS were on again.

I had to end the call with Mary but I think of her every day. When I train new hires, I tell them, “LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMER/ HEAR YOUR CUSTOMER.” Ask their limitations. “Sir, are you able to reach down and unplug the cord from the wall outlet and troubleshoot with me?” It was a huge lesson learned.

I am glad I can laugh about it now, but we are here for these folks.

During Covid19, it has been a true lesson in: Guess what the customer is REALLY upset about….? I tell agents, do not take it personally… The customer may be 20% upset about service but 80% upset about life… They want life back to normal just like all of us. We’ve had to shed our tech hats and play therapist to some and be their friends. I’ve had callers crying… lonely… Elderly shut in their homes since March. Help turn into talks about traditions… missed and future. Our job means more than Call Center. Our Job is more. We are valued. I think in the 7 months that I’ve been here, I’ve been asked to 5 Thanksgiving Dinners!

That says something.

United States

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