Whenever a quiet evening at home is disturbed by an unexpected phone call I’m as guilty as anyone at my impatient reaction to yet another tele canvasser.
Coming from a sales background, I always try and remind myself that these are ordinary people working the late shift in a difficult job. They are often young and blissfully unaware of how many of us regard their intrusion. In the way that a good call-centre trainer should incorporate some empathy training – in other words, to teach an understanding from the householder’s point of view – so perhaps should we remember that no tele sales operator deserves blatant rudeness, however badly timed their interruption.
I therefore found the following story which caught my eye in today’s news thoroughly heart-warming. It concerns a cold caller, Simon Shepherd who saved a pensioner’s life.
Simon, aged 25, was just two days into the job when he rang an 84 year old woman to sell solar heating panels. After a brief chat, Simon noticed that she seemed to be struggling to breathe. Suspecting something serious he called an ambulance to her home in the West Midlands.
When paramedics arrived they found the woman face-down in her living room having suffered a potentially fatal stroke. Thanks to Simon’s quick thinking, she is expected to make a full recovery. The woman said “I am very grateful to the young man. He was very good with me on the phone. He went above and beyond for me.” Simon said “Cold callers get a hard time from people but if I hadn’t called her she’d have probably died.”
I like to think that the majority in Simon’s situation would have done the same; call centre staff are only human, with feelings, insecurities, fears and aspirations just like the rest of us. Let’s also remember that whether they are working here or from abroad, all of them are doing one of the hardest things of all: trying to sell to the Great British Public.