You know you’ve been working in a call centre too long when…
1. You say ‘thanks for calling’ to your family and friends
This seems to be the most common sign, by far.
There are many different ways your call centre habits can intrude on a personal call.
It can happen at the start of a call, for example – when you answer your own phone with your corporate salutation, followed by ‘how can I help you?’
It’s just pure force of habit. And once it takes hold, it can be hard to shake off.
2. You say ‘Anything else I can help you with?’
A similar force-of-habit statement at the end of a call, but one that’s much less likely to go unnoticed.
3. You say ‘Have a nice day now!’
This could totally pass for standard politeness in a lot of phone calls. Especially if it’s someone you don’t know particularly well. If it’s your mother or your best mate, though, they’re going to know.
4. You say ‘Please evaluate my call.’
This one definitely won’t go unnoticed. But who knows? You might get some encouraging feedback.
5. You dial 9 for an outside line
Very common. You are so much on auto-pilot that you can’t help yourself.
You don’t even realise it until you hear the “number you have dialled has not been recognised” message playing down the line.
6. You expect everyone you phone to answer within three rings
It’s true. After a while in a call centre environment, you come to keep scores in your head for how well phones are answered. Even when you’re not at work.
It’s not uncommon for call centre workers to be extremely impatient when dealing with other call centres in their personal lives.
When you know how it should be done (and you do it well yourself), it makes it extra frustrating to see it done badly.
7. You raise your hand when you need a wee
In call centres where you do indeed have to get permission for a toilet break, it can become ingrained in your behaviour.
So it’s not surprising that some call centre workers struggle to remember (just like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption) that sometimes in life, you can just get up and go.
The other way this manifests is in speed. At work, when you rush to the toilet and rush back again as quick as possible, it helps you minimise your time offline.
If you find yourself doing the same thing at a family barbecue, then call centre work may have made you a little bit institutionalised.
8. You give out your work number/address instead of your own
This is an interesting one because it sometimes comes full circle.
If you’ve never done a job that requires you to give out phone numbers and addresses to customers, it can be hard to get used to.
Sometimes you start to reel off your home address or your mobile number and have to say ‘wait, sorry, scratch that’.
But stay in that job for long enough and it will swap around.
It’s the last thing you want to do when arranging a date or ordering something online – having your friends phoning your work number and your Amazon parcels arriving at the call centre.
9. You have a KPI chart to monitor your kids’ successes and goals
Call centre workers, especially managers, often develop an unhealthy dependence on statistics. When you use them every day to understand what’s happening around you, it’s no surprise.
When you spend all day swimming in quantitative information, it becomes hard to gauge the value of qualitative information.
You’ll know if this is happening or not on parents’ evening. If you’re told your child is ‘doing really well’, are you the type of person who will immediately ask ‘so on a scale of one to ten…’?
If so, you might be developing a stats addiction.
For the rest of us, though, we work a job that is all about routine. So don’t be too hard on yourself.
If you’ve accidentally told your mother ‘thanks for your call’ – so what? It means you have good habits and you’re polite and helpful without even trying.
With thanks to Matt Phil Carver – a regular contributor to Call Centre Helper.
With additional thanks to David W, Keith S, Elizabeth H, Dick L, Toyah M, Federico S, Paul D, Astrid A, Suki D, Victoria S and Mohamed N for their suggestions.