Enterprise Software

Talking Shop: Cleaning up the call center

Analysis of what steps to take when a call center co-worker exhibits inappropriate behavior


When someone uses inappropriate language in the call center, should you report that behavior to the person’s manager? TechRepublic member Kajer recently posted that question in the Discussion Center. This week, I’ll give you my advice for foul-mouthed call center workers, and I invite you to put in your two cents on the subject.

The situation
TechRepublic member Kajer works on the corporate help desk for a company with locations nationwide. “None of our support is face to face,” Kajer wrote. “All of it is phone-based. We will most of the time make small talk with people while we are waiting for files to send or whatnot. The problem I have is with one of my coworkers. He makes inappropriate remarks and just generally annoys everyone else in the room and the people who call in. His remarks are usually somewhat sexual in nature, and he feels the need to make funny voices for some reason.”

In the Discussion Center post, Kajer went on to give a specific example of a particularly inappropriate comment, of a sexual nature, made by the coworker. “I've talked with others back here,” Kajer wrote, “and they agree with me that his comments are annoying and inappropriate, but they don't think it's worth going to the boss about.”

It IS worth going to the boss about
In his response to Kajer’s post, TechRepublic member James Linn wrote, “For the good of the group and your company, you should do something.” Member Bryan_H agreed: “This person's attitude also reflects on your group. There may be customers who try to work around their problems just because they may have to speak with him. Tell your boss. This person needs to change his attitude or be fired.”

My opinion is that Kajer must report the behavior, because if she doesn’t, the manager eventually will find out about it and could call the rest of the department on the carpet for failing to report it sooner.

The big question is: "How?"
I think we can all agree that, like profane language, sexual innuendo has no place in a professional call center or help desk environment.

Now, for those of you who work with someone who acts like Kajer’s coworker, let’s tackle the challenge of how to report the bozo’s behavior without looking and feeling like a tattletale.

James Linn recommended a low-key approach, going to the manager and saying, “'We have a problem; we have an employee making inappropriate remarks, and I am afraid that some of our [end users] may take offense.' Don't get into chapter and verse.”

That way, according to James, the manager has the option of asking you for the details about the miscreant’s behavior.

TechRepublic member Road-dog posted another option for reporting the rogue: “If your department has some service feedback mechanism, make sure that the users he's annoying are aware of it. If he's nearly as bad as you indicate, his feedback forms will pile up and force management to take steps.”

Send out the clowns
Do you work with someone who feels he or she has to be the class clown, cutting up with and teasing customers and using inappropriate or downright ugly language? If so, that person is making your team look bad. What are you doing about it? To share your experiences and advice with fellow TechRepublic members, please post a comment below or write to Jeff.

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