Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Breaking the gatekeeper

We run a lean office here. On any given day there’s rarely more than eight of us. And no receptionist.


From a marketing/customer service perspective, I’ve always believed in having a live person answering the phones rather than an automated system, so a couple months ago I offered to help out catching calls. It’s maybe three or four per day. No big deal.

Here’s the really twisted part: I actually enjoy it.

It gives me the opportunity to fuck with people with impunity.
"Can I speak with Rich Johnson please?"

"He’s not available would you like to leave a message?"

"Is there a better time to reach him this week?"

What I want to say: "No. There is not a better time to reach him. This is, in fact, the very best time to reach him. How do I know? Because he just walked by my desk all loose and chatty, fresh from his morning dump. But guess what? You’re still not getting through so give it up, ya phonetard."

What I say: “Please try back tomorrow morning around this time.”
"Hi this is Doug I’m calling from DouchebagsRUsPrinters and I’m updating our records, could you please give me the number on the front of your printer? Could you check that for me now please?"

"Which company are you with again?"

"Douchebags. R. Us. Couldyougivemethenumberonthefrontofyourprinter? Couldyoucheckitnowplease?"

"Which printer?"

"Your printer, could you check that for me now please?"

"Which printer?"

"Um…your color printer? Could you check that for me now please?"

"We have several color printers. Which printer do you need?"

"Um, I really need to update my records could you check that for me? Could you check the number on the front of your printer for me now?"

"Listen up, chump. We both know you’re not updating any records. You don’t have a record. You’re talking fast and acting like you know my business to get me to give you information so you can try to sell me shit we don’t need. Isn’t that right?"


And yes, that is exactly what I said.
"Hi this is John Hunt calling for Rich Johnson, is he in?"

"He’s not available right now would you like to leave a message?"

"Yes, please."

"What was your first name again? Mike?"

"Um, no. John Hunt."

There’s another guy who calls every day. Every day. Every. Day.

Asks for my boss. Won’t give his company. Won’t say why he’s calling. Won’t leave a message.

Each time, I tell him I’m happy to take a message but he says he’ll try back.

What I want to say: "Remember when that hottie Jessica Gable shot you down for prom and you went home all depressed and your dad took you for ice cream and told you to keep trying so you got right back in there and the next day you asked that other hottie Emily Wilkinson and she shot you down too but you got more ice cream so it wasn’t so bad and then you asked that chick with the glasses from biology Rita Something-or-Other and she said no too and suddenly it was three days before the big dance and you’d gained 10 lbs. from all the fucking ice cream and decided to ask Agnes Gottfried who smells just like a fresh bag of Cheetos and she said YES and your dad said see son, persistence pays off? This is not one of those times. Here at ______, even the chubby chicks say no."

What I say: "Can I take a message?"
Where even the chubby chicks say no.

This is a great tagline. For something.

Overeaters for Abstinence?
Pay attention sales reps. Here are some important tips for dealing with bitchy gatekeeper types like me:

Be honest. Don’t be that printer douchebag, hustling clueless receptionists into helping you make your pathetic sale. If you’re starting off our relationship with a lie, what makes you think I’ll ever trust you enough to buy something?

Explain yourself. You could be selling the Exact Thing my boss needs Right Now. But because you’re acting like the International Man of Mystery, I’ll make sure you never, ever speak with him. If you don’t tell me who you are, your company, and why you’re calling, there’s no reason why I should put you through.

Sell me, sell my boss. Practice on me. Convince me you’re pitching something of value and I just might believe my boss will see value in it, too.

Wait a minute. Don’t pitch me, dammit. Try showing genuine interest in what we do as a business and see if what you’re selling actually could help. Use me to learn about the person you're trying to reach - I'll happily share a little information if I think a) it's appropriate and b) you're worthy.

Get a new job. If you're selling toner cartridges or paid Yellow Page listings over the phone, seriously, get a new fucking gig. Now. Nobody's buying the crap you're selling. Plus who needs that kind of karma? You'll spend the rest of your pathetic life and possibly even the next one struggling to get laid, all for scamming young receptionists with more boobs than brains.

Be funny. If one of these calls-everyday-idiots would just say “Listen honey, I’d use my cock to tap out Yankee fucking Doodle in Morse code on this headset if I thought it would convince you to let me talk to your boss” I’d giggle like the madcap chubster I am and joyfully transfer that bastard right on through.


Thanks for calling and have a nice day.
I am listening to: Kid, You'll Move Mountains - Volts
I am reading: Nothing much
And I am: Having some fun


Dave said...

You have more fun with it than I do. On the very rare occasion that I answer the main phone and the caller asks if they can talk to the person who "handles our copiers," I tell them we aren't interested, say goodbye and hang up.

miss kitty said...

FYI - Grommie needs a gatekeeper.

I prank call him all day long while my “owner” (like anyone could ever own ME, whatever!) is at work.

He falls for it every time...he answers and the call goes something like this:

Me: “MEOW!”

Him - Dumb Dog: “Bark-Bark-Bark-Bark-Bark-Bark!”


Posol'stvo the Medved said...

This is too funny. We get calls from staffing firms all the time asking if we are hiring anytime soon. Since we don't have any one person who handles that function, I am often forwarded these calls. And I get the lowly task of informing them that if we were hiring, we have channels that we use that we're happy with thank you very much sorry to have wasted your time (and mine).

Our bigger problem is walk ins. We have a very prominent "No Soliciting" sign on our door, and yet people still walk in just "wanting to drop off some information, or maybe talk to whoever it is who's in charge of your office's coffee?"

We have a number of responses, but usually if we respond with "We have a 'No Soliciting' sign on the door," we are are treated to a semantical debate on what constitutes "solicitation."

Then, they almost always ask for a card. We have thought about having cards made up that have the definition of solicitation printed on them for just this purpose.

I feel sorry for these people... I really do. I would HATE having to deal with obtuse assholes like me all day. All the same, I can't imagine that the technique actually works. (Speaking of needing to find a new job -- STAT!)

???????? said...

Hi....My name is Moe, and I have a Very Large Penis. I would like to offer it "up" for 1 month ....FREE!
That's right....FREE! Any chance I could stop by, this Thursday, for a FREE 30 second trial? I promise, it won't take long.

Anonymous said...

These times make for desperate men and women. There is no greater shame than being unable to provide for ones family. I have known… and I have even been one of those who have had to swallow pride and take a job that was what I considered to be demeaning and undignified. But I buckled down and got to work. On many occasions I faced the impatience and intolerance of my fellow man. I was inconvenient and unnecessary… and I cried.

I knew I was being a nuisance to others but I had a family to feed. Each day was a nightmare but each night was a hopeful daydream that I would one day not have to be the one who others mocked for being undignified, stupid and unaware. But times were hard so I did what I had to do.

I say this not to defend the rude among us who have rightfully earned their scorn. I say this only to note that many of us are hurting and desperate. And times like these may call for us to make an extra effort to uncover some empathy for our fellow man…

That said I am now doing fine. But I well never forget when I was down… in times like these.


ps - Miss Kitty - that is my answering machine you are meowing into... you're so precious.

Hedy said...

Grommie: Dude. Seriously. I love you, but you gotta lighten the fuck up. There are good telemarketers and there are bad telemarketers. The bad ones are their own worst enemies.

Moe: If it's really you, welcome back. It's been too long. Just like your penis. xoxo.


the problem is, most gatekeepers aren't that intellectual and think that far out of the box like you do.

All they usually care about is themselves and they don't care enough about the company to actually want to be convinced from the keymaster on the other end of the line.

maybe they need to cross train recepts with the marketing dept and sales dept...there you have it!

Hedy said...

"I feel sorry for these people... I really do. I would HATE having to deal with obtuse assholes like me all day."

Do NOT feel sorry for these folks. Please. There are simple, effective ways to engage prospects over the phone (and in person, for that matter) that don't make us want to hang up or run screaming in the opposite direction. A lady called our home number last week - I was running late, I had no intention of buying, and I wanted OFF the phone. But she was FANTASTIC - respectful, interesting, and genuine - and I ended up chatting with her for 15 minutes. In my tips, I could have said 'be genuine, interesting, and respectful' but that wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining (to me, anyway).

Anonymous said...

Tolerance my dear.
As to 'lightening up'... read your original post and note the tone. And compare it to my reply... and note the tone. I'm light as a feather baby.
Now get me a doggie bone! Stat!

Hedy said...

I'll give you a bone, ya lovable mutt.

In truth, I know that folks are struggling and any job is a good job right now. It's all a matter of doing your best at whatever job you're in right now. I don't know if you could tell, but I did have fun writing this bit and it felt in some ways like I was 'back' after being away for a while. Make sense?

Anonymous said...

If we always agreed I would hate you!
And you know I admire your writing... always have!
That said... I gotta go pooh!