Inside Tech Support

An insider's view of the OOL technical support call center. I am an OOL techical support representative and I've created this blog to give you an insight into the workings of the call center as well as help you get inside the mind of the guy who is helping you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Last Post

This is my last post as OOLTech.

When I started this blog I had a few areas I wanted to explore. The pressures we techs are under, the type of people we have to deal with, incompetence, etc. As time went on more topics came to mind. But two things have happened: 1) I'm out of ideas and 2) I've moved on.

Yes, the good news is that I am now with a company that appreciates me and pays me what I'm worth. Management treats me like a human being, the work is interesting and varied and I'm not under a microscope as soon as I walk into the building. Life is now good.

I wish I had back the time I spent in that shithole, I really believe that if I didn't have this blog to vent in, I would have gone postal.

Thanks, all, for reading and I hope I accomplished my primary mission: to give you an insight into the workings of the call center as well as help you get inside the mind of the guy who is helping you.

And now it is time to reveal my identity: All of you that work in the call center know me as

+++NO CARRIER+++....

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bonus time

It's that time of year, the time of year when some companies reward their loyal workers with a Christmas bonus. Luckily for us, Cablevision is one of those companies.

I know that there are plenty of companies that do not give out Christmas bonuses. And I commend and thank Cablevision's management for giving us bonuses. But that will not stop me from looking a gift horse in the mouth.

The Christmas bonus does not appear to be based on anything but grade level. Not time of service, not performance incentives, it is simply based on your position in the company. And you know our position in the company, at the bottom to where all the shit flows, and that also can describe our bonus.

I know I may be biased but we call center workers are the hardest working employees that Cablevision has. And that is due to the incredible volume of calls that we handle combined with the Statistics we are forced to maintain.

So for all our hard work, stress and aggravation, Cablevision throws us a bone and gives us ONE weeks pay. That's right, we get a check containing a whopping 1/52of our yearly salary.

Of course the higher up in the company, the greater the percentage of your salary you get. It is not enough that they make so much more money, their bonus has to be a greater percent of their salary, up to 40% and more at the management level! It's not like Cablevision skimps on management's salary, in addition to their 6 figure salary, they get $30K-$90K as a bonus? What the Fuck?

IMO, that's bullshit.

So while management goes yacht shopping, I get to hand over my bonus to a mechanic to keep my 10 year old POS car running.

One week's friggin' pay......Merry Fucking Christmas.

Friday, November 11, 2005


There has been an underground movement going on at TSG (Tech Support Group) to Unionize. The problem is, it is so underground that it is invisible. I didn't know one existed until after I started this blog.

A unionizing effort has been going on among Field Techs for quite a while. They seem to be pretty well organized, (you see their bumper stickers everywhere Cablevision Techs Need Respect), and they have a website. The unionizing effort at TSG is NOT organized but at least they have a website, Organize TSG. One reason why there is no coordinated union organizing going on is the revolving door nature of employment at TSG. Many of the original union agitators have moved on to other jobs, voluntarily or not.

Let's see why Unionizing may be a good idea.

One of the biggest problems in TSG is the rapid turnover. As stated in a previous post, new hires are temporary employees making about $11/hour. Maybe Management's thinking goes as such: Hire cheap and quick so when they leave, because the job is so difficult, you can replace them quickly and cheaply. Maybe this makes sense if you only look at the numbers and we all know that Management is all about the numbers .Management is too short sighted to see this but this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When techs are hired at $11/hr they really don't have anything invested into staying. Hell, you'd probably make almost as much flipping burgers. The first couple of months are really hard and a tech needs to grow into the job. Starting at $11/yr makes it a lot easier for someone to give up easily. If Cablevision offered a higher starting rate of pay (with benefits like health insurance), I can guarantee you that techs would stick with it a lot longer. Techs who stay around longer become better techs. Better techs mean better tech support. Better tech support means better customer service. Oh, there's the problem, as I have stated before, Management has no desire to truly improve customer service, they'd rather put a band-aid, aka BPA, on the gaping wound that is customer service.

Unionizing would give a higher starting salary, techs would stick with the job, become better and customer service would improve.

A big thing we lack here is a fair grievance procedure. Right now if you are a temp, at any time a supervisor can fire you for any stupid reason at all. And if you are a permanent employee they have a huge list of transgressions that will get you written up. And of course if you get written up, down will come the Iron Fist of Management. First of all, it will reset any progress you have made toward any "career progression" (aka a promotion to the next grade level). If you had been assigned to any of the coveted TSG positions (Comm Desk, Offline Team, Live Support(which takes you off the phone 3 days a week!) you are busted back to the phones full time. A decent grievance procedure can prevent a supervisor with a grudge from abusing his authority.

Unionizing will allow techs to be treated like human beings and be a defense against heavy handed management.

Techs need input into the ridiculous work rules, partially covered in my stats and BPA posts, and someone needs to address the lousy Working Conditions around here. Taking call after call after call is simply grueling, one way to prevent burn-out would be to space out the calls, say a mandatory 1 minute break between calls. The stats have to be overhauled to make it reflect reality and BPA needs a lot of work to make it work right.

Unionizing will be good for a tech's well being. A tech who is not overly stressed is a better tech. Better techs mean better customer service.

There is no advancement in this department and management’s idea of career progression is a joke. They have no clearly defined career ladder, simply a series of increasingly difficult to maintain level of stats to match for 6 months before your salary grade level goes up. Once you make that grade, you have to maintain your stats or you get written up. Get written up a couple of times, and your ass is out the door. That’s management’s way of keeping control of salaries, make goals unrealistic and get rid of the ones who happen to reach them.

Many techs scour the internal job postings each day desperately looking for a way out. TSG is comprised of many, many talented people but this resource is little used by other departments. Techs have a hard time even landing an interview for an internal position. And even if they are granted an interview, the fact that they work in TSG is held against them.

Unionizing will provide a well defined and fair career progression. I’m sure it will not help with the other departments' bias against TSG but since they not hiring us now, that shouldn’t matter

I think it is quite clear that Unionizing is the best thing for techs at TSG and I believe it will help the customer by improving customer service.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Here is a how one tech made a difference and an excellent example of how Cablevision's call center management treats us workers.

For many years, TSG's official policy was to have a tech take calls as soon as his shift starts. This ignores the fact it can take more than 10 minutes to log in and get all the needed programs started and logged in to.

As was indoctrinated in us during training, You are being paid to take calls. But Management screws us two ways. The call center is very, very crowded, and if your shift starts during "prime time", it is hard to find a seat. You have to wait for someone's shift to end. When your shift starts you have to sign in to the phone system, and since you aren't ready to take a call, you have to sign out. Eevery moment you are working is monitored, you have to put a reason why you have signed out, in this case "system issues" would be a good choice. These reasons are tracked and at the end of the month your supervisor will discuss your stats with you. The fact that you signed out to system issues is guaranteed to be brought up. This is yet another stat that Management will use against you at raise time.

But if you were lucky enough to find a seat before your shift, or start at a time when it is less crowded, you were expected to log in to your computer , start all your applications and log into them. All before your shift starts. That this was wrong was brought up numerous times. I myself brought it up in monthly meetings. Management didn't care and told us that's just the way it is.

Finally a tech was let go for only Management knows why and he did something about it he consulted a lawyer. It was obvious that Cablevision had broken labor laws. Obvious to everyone but Management. Or maybe they just didn't care.

A lawsuit was filed, it turned into a class action, and Cablevision folded like a cheap suit.

I got my settlement check today and thanks to Robert Wolfson, I'll be able to go to a couple of nice restaurants for dinner. Thanks, Rob for standing up for the little guy.

After the lawsuit was filed, Management finally smartened up and changed their policy. Now we have a whole 5 minutes to log in. Not really enough time for us but enough for Cablevision to avoid another lawsuit.

So what's the moral of the story? I guess it is that Cablevision engages in unethical and illegal business practices and only will change if forced do by the courts......

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


One reason why we need all those Uptrainings is that we have to work with a mishmash of outdated and poorly integrated tools. You'd think that once you call in and give the tech your phone number, up pops all your information, right at his fingertips. HA! This is Cablevision, the place where while you are on the phone navigating those endless menus, you enter in your phone number but then have to tell it to the tech when you finally reach a human. Didn't you just give the menu system your phone number? (Or rather didn't you give it 5+ minutes ago? :( ) Why is the tech asking for it again? Because Cablevision is incomptent!. That should be your first clue that we are (by Mangement's design) totally disorganized.

In the call center we use a ticket tracking application called Remedy. After we request your phone number (carefully following the BPA procedures) we enter it and hope your name comes up. There are a number of reasons why your name may not show up, but the most common is that you've gotten a new phone number (like a new OV number, or you may have moved) but your account is still listed under your old phone number. When you order OV and are given the new number, why isn't your account updated to reflect that? It's because of the poor integration. What happens in one application often isn't reflected in another.

Here is an example of their poor integration. Let's say you move and you take your modem and your IO boxes with you. What Cablevision does is disconnect your old account and create a new one. Your modem mac ID and IO box ID will probably be left attached to your old account. In a couple of weeks your TV and modem service stops working because The System does not recognize those boxes as being attached to a valid account. You call up customer service (not tech support) and the Customer Service Rep fixes your problem. Now why wasn't it done automatically? Because it is a manual process, there is no way to link accounts. This happens all the time. But guess where your email address is and will stay forever? Yep, attached to your old account. The CSR knows nothing email addresses, they are just concerned with the box numbers. There are tens of thousands of email addresses attached to disconnected accounts. Can Cablevision go in and clean out old disconnected email addresses? Nope! They may be used by a customer who has simply moved! That means if you ever drop OOL, you can pretty much guarantee on using your email address forever. This brings up another problem, remember Bulk Mail? Cablevision's vaunted SpamAway was to put any identifed Spam into your bulk mail folder where you could review it for mistakes and report any errors. That lasted how long, six months? And I believe this is why, there are tens of thousands of unused email addresses that are no longer being used but still get Spam. These emails never get deleted and use up valuable disk space. The BISC's only option was to remove the Bulk Mail capability in order to reduce disk space. After all, they can't delete email addresses because they have no idea which are are being used by paying customers and which are not!

Back to the tools.....

Let's say we are unable to bring up your account in Remedy but you have your account number handy. You would think we could bring up your account in Remedy using your account number. NOPE! That would make it too easy for us. We have to go to another application which accesses the repository of all the customer's billing and service information, Cabledata. This POS is a text program which runs in a DOS window. Believe it or not it is a 16 bit application! For you non-technical people out there, that shit went out with Windows 95! Being a text program it is comprised mostly of short acronyms and codes and there are HUNDREDS of them. Do we get training on them? See Uptrainings for an answer on that! When all we had to do in Cabledata was to set up truck rolls to fix signal problems it was easy, but then Management dumped all sorts of other responsibilies on us (fixing rates, Changes of service, OV issues,etc). More responsibility = more pay, right? HAHAHAHAHA! Not in the Cablevision universe! And the lack of training we get causes errors to be made all the time. Since we really don't know what we are doing with Cabledata it is very easy to remove existing services when we make a change to another service. So if that happens to you, don't blame the tech, blame Cablevision's management for their incomptetent Training procedures.

Remedy and Cabledata are the two main account tools we use but there are a bunch of others. And testing is never done by the Corp IS idiots. Man, I should have included those boneheads in my incompetence entry. If we get a new version of a tool, you can guarantee that their will be big problems for the first few days and then they will remove the tool until it is fixed. Half the time they don't even restore the old version so basically you are SOL! Anyway, at any one time we probably have 15+ windows open. And there is no built-in integration in any of them. What we have to do is cut and paste and cut and paste.

There is one bright spot in this mess of tools, a very smart and enterprising tech took it upon himself to write a program (on his own time!) to try to integrate a number of these tools. It's not perfect and has its flaws but it is MILES beyond what Cablevision provides us. He distributed this to a few fellow techs and management noticed their stats improved. In a rare stroke of intelligence they asked him to continue to improve his program and distributed it to the rest of the call center techs. For what this guy does, he should get $50/hr. Cablevision is getting a 60% discount on his programming! BUT he was still just a phone monkey. He was allowed a couple of days a week to work on his program but the other days he had to be a phone tech. This guy was far more valuable working on his program than answering phones. But it's like I've said before, Cablevision just cares about throwing bodies at the queue. Eventually his reward was a promotion to the Corporate IS department. There was no increase in pay of course, I'm sure Management must think that he should just be happy he's off the phones.....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Training around here is nothing but a bad joke. When you get frustrated with an incompetent tech, don't take it out on the tech, it is not his fault, it is Management's inability to properly train the tech and keep them up to date. I've already detailed the abysmal training given to new techs and how it could be improved. But after you get on the phones, Management feels that any new features that OOL provides can be handled in a quick 45 minute or so Uptraining. Uptraining. WTF does that mean? Uptraining. The way management is around here it is more like Up your ass training.

Every couple of weeks you will get an appointment for a Uptraining. These Uptrainings will be on either new tools or new features that OOL supports. They are usually scheduled for 45-90 minutes and are held in a conference room. A "lead" technician hosts the Uptraining and hands out a photocopied document that details "everything" you would need to know about the new feature/tool. Do we have any computers to view or work with the new feature/tool? No, but the photocopy has screenshots! Yay! Screenshots! WooHoo! So how is the class conducted? The "lead" will sit at the head of the conference table and in a monotone, simply read off every fucking line in the document. As you can imagine, this is about as informative as watching ice melt. The sad part is you look forward to such Uptrainings, it gets you off the phones and away from customers.

These Uptrainings are supposed to provide the absolute minimum needed to perform the required function. How to handle anything out of the ordinary is not detailed at all. So the Uptraining might be useful 50% of the time. The rest of the time, well, good luck finding a lead.

Another useful thing that was suggested to Management (and promptly relegated to the circular file) is to provide refresher Uptrainings. Quite a few times I have talked to fellow techs about a customer's problem I solved and have had the tech tell me "I forgot about that". But the reason why Management won't do that ties in with the following.

The hell with keeping techs well trained and able to properly help the customer, what did I state earlier is the most important thing to Management? That's right, their ASA. It doesn't matter if you are scheduled for an Uptraining, if there is a queue of customers waiting to talk to a tech (and there is ALWAYS a queue), Uptrainings are cancelled. Of course they are supposed to be rescheduled but what happens? Yep, another queue, Uptrainings are cancelled again. Eventually the Uptraining is forgotten about and then you are on your own. When new features roll out as the new OV portal did recently, I'm sure when customers called in about it, they knew more about what it does than the tech did!

Other methods of training consist of leads coming around while you are on the phone, dropping off a document and then they make you sign that you read it. Or it is emailed to you. When do I have time to read these documents? Oh that's right, management allows me all of 5 minutes at the beginning of my shift to log in, setup all the tools I need and then go through my email to read and digest these documents. Or while I am on the phone with a customer I might recall there is something in my stack of documents I have to carry back and forth to work (remember, we aren't given drawers to store our stuff in) that may have something to do with his problem. Let's see how Management can screw us. If I put the customer on hold, I run the risk of exceeding my hold time stat. If I tell the customer Let me research your issue and NOT put him on hold, I have to watch out for BPA and fill in the silences. Yet again, Management sets up the tech to bullshit the customer and not fix his problem. As we have seen, it is not in either the tech's nor Management's best interest to help the customer.

When you speak to a tech remember one thing. The tech on the phone is considered by Management to be nothing but a phone answering piece of meat. The tech only exists to lower the ASA. All management cares about is that you get off the phone as quickly as possible. They don't care if your problem was fixed, they don't care if the tech knows WTF he is talking about, they simply care about you hanging up the phone ASAP.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Management's obsession - Part II

When you call in, do you ever have the feeling you are talking to a machine? That the techs all say the same thing in the same way? That their speech pauses in awkward places in their opening? Do the techs ever repeat your questions back to you as a statement or talking around an issue instead of saying no? If so, it is all because of BPA.

BPA is management's other obsession, their most important tech statistic of all. As stated previously, this stat has nothing to do with your technical ability to fix the customer's problem. In fact you can completely botch the call and you can still score a 100%! All that matters is that the tech says the proper things to the customer. This stat counts for 50% of a tech's rating.

As usual with Cablevision, on paper this looks good but it fails miserably in practice. You are monitored, randomly, 3 times a month. For Each call you are graded on the following:

  • Corporate Response
  • Uses Positive Words and Phrases
  • Upbeat Tone / Sounds Interested
  • Bridges One Part of Call to Another
  • Filling Silences
  • Offers Help Before Being Asked
  • Actively Listens
  • Acknowledges Customer/Offers Action
  • Identifies Needs
  • Takes Ownership
  • Focuses on Solution
  • Summarizes/Gains Agreement
  • Closes Call Politely

Corporate Response
The opening of all calls should techs should be the same: Cablevision, Technical support, my name is Joey, how may I help you. Sounds reasonable, right? But in practice Cablevision fucks it all up. They expect a half second pause between each phrase. If you don't pause, you get it marked wrong. I can understand the desire not to have a tech give you a run on sentence: CablevisionTechnicalsupportmynameisJoeyhowmay Ihelpyou, but enforcing a pause for each phrase is ridiculous. In my experience, all a customer needs to here is Cablevision or Technical support and they jump in and start talking. Meanwhile you are trying to finish your Corporate Response. So you're fucked both ways, you are either marked wrong for interrupting the customer or you are marked wrong for not finishing the Corporate Response. But wait, the micro managing of the call gets better.

Uses Positive Words and Phrases
This should be titled Does not use negative words. That's right, you can't tell the customer No. Or you can't tell the customer they are doing something wrong. You have to talk around it. Even if a customer asks a simple question. Does Optimum Online support IMAP? You can't say No. You have to word it so you don't hurt the customer's feelings. Optimum online supports POP but we do offer a Webmail service that holds 20 MB. If the customer doesn't really understand why you didn't answer his straightforward question and asks again, Does Optimum Online support IMAP? You have to answer the same thing again, maybe word it a bit differently: We have Webmail that holds 20 MB of email. All the customer wants to hear is Yes or No. But the morons in management feel that the customer cannot handle hearing a simple No. To show how ridiculous this metric is try this yourself, go 8 hours without saying a negative word to anyone. If there is one thing I've learned while dealing with customers is that they don't want to be bullshitted, they want a straight answer.

Bridges One Part of Call to Another
This has to do with transfers to other departments and it is one metric I agree with. If you need to transfer the call you should 1) tell the customer you are going to transfer them, 2)contact the other representative 3) put the other rep on hold and tell the customer you are going to transfer them and 4) transfer the customer. The call center rule is wait 30 seconds while trying to contact the other department, if there is a queue, then go back to the customer, explain there is a wait and then transfer them into the queue. There is nothing to quibble about here, this is just good customer service. EVERY tech should get this correct, no excuses.

I have been corrected by someone in the comments.

Bridges One Part of Call to Another This standard has nothing to do with transfers. If you recall correctly, what they want you to do here is to use full sentences and avoid short sharp questions and statements (ex: Name?)

This is almost as stupid as the next metric, Filling Silences. Tech support is all about giving the customer step by step instructions. Instructions are short, abrupt, quick and to the point. They are not full sentences. This is yet another instance where BPA fails in the real world.

Filling Silences
This is among the most annoying metric of all. If I am silent it is because I am working on your problem. I am probably running a variety of tests on your modem/pc/email, etc but they expect me to fill silences with babble. Even if I try to cover myself with Please bear with me while I run some tests, BANG marked wrong for not using positive phrases. We often have to wait for the customer's PC to reboot. With some of those dinosaur PC's it takes quite a while to boot. What am I supposed to say during that time? Make small talk? So, what's the weather like by you? How's the wife and kids? Got any nekkid pics of your wife?...Want some?.

Offers Help Before Being Asked
What the fuck does this mean? I don't know. My Corporate Response already asks how may I help you? What else do they want? And yes, management's guidelines on this are extensive......HA!

Actively Listens
This is related to if you ask a customer to repeat himself. I've asked a customer for his phone number, entered in our ticket tracking program Remedy and had it crash. After I restarted it, I had to ask the customer for his phone number again, explaining my program crashed. Yep, another black mark. It is also difficult to Actively Listen when the customer babbles on and on and on and on about multiple or completely unrelated issues. When you try to get the customer to clarify their problem, you run the risk of being marked wrong. This service sucks, it is sometimes static or I cannot hear the other person, and when I call my brother's wife's daughter's therapist who says his phone service from you also stinks and my PC is running really slow since I got the phone and I cannot get any voicemails and I was unable to call American Idol the other week....... Now of course all this is said before you can even ask for their phone number to bring up their account. And then you have to say So exactly what is wrong? BANG! Black mark.

Acknowledges Customer/Offers Action
Here we must emphasize with the customer. I'm sorry that you are having such an issue, I'll help you with that. What a condescending load of shit. Note that you are not apologizing. It is an empty bullshit phrase. You don't know any of the details yet, all you heard is the initial customer complaint. Apologize when you hear the full story, when you know it is Cablevision's fault. The customer doesn't want to hear empty phrases, they want action.

Identifies Needs
Doesn't the customer do this for you already? They are the ones that called up and asked for help.

Takes Ownership

Focuses on Solution
I was trying to focus on the solution but I was too busy Filling Silences with empty babble.

Summarizes/Gains Agreement
Yeah, this is a brilliant one. After a 45 minute call I'm supposed to go over what we did in detail. After you solve the customer's problem, all they want to do is get off the damn phone, they don't want to hang around to hear you summarize shit. Gaining Agreement is asking them if you can help them with anything else. Let's say I have a pissed off customer that I was unable to help. Now I'm supposed to Gain Agreement? I say: Is there anything else I can help you with? He says: Fuck you! You didn't help me with my original problem! All I know is that if I have an irate customer the only agreement that I can gain is that Cablevision Sucks.

Closes Call Politely
This is simply saying something like Thanks for calling Cablevision, have a great day. Great on paper, lousy in practice. Again, when you have an irate customer, nothing sounds more empty. Let's say you have a customer that has major problems with his phone, that we've been unable to fix for a couple of months and the problem has been escalated a couple of times. He is PISSED. After you explain to him that it is still being worked on, how about ending with Thanks for calling Cablevision, have a great day!

And you wonder why people hate customer service reps, we are forced by management to treat customers like idiots, be condescending and utterly insensitive to their situation. But hey! Just like the Status Page, this is a great thing that management can check off their list, all our techs follow standardized call metrics. Who cares if it doesn't make sense for every call.

All this bullshit counts for 50% of a tech's rating. Did he fix your problem? Did he give you good accurate advice on how to or where to get it fixed? WHO CARES!!! Not Management! Now you don't need to wonder why you get lousy technical support, all the techs are busy blowing smoke up your ass.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Have you ever felt rushed off the phone like the tech is just blowing you off? Have you been told you were in an outage but called later to find out you weren’t? Has a tech ever referred you to a router/OS/PC vendor when the actual problem was on our side? Has a tech ever hung up on you “accidentally” after about 10 minutes? It might not have been incompetence, it may have been the need for the tech to meet management’s unreasonable goals.

As stated in a previous post, the holy grail of management is the call center’s ASA, or Average Speed of Answer. EVERYTHING the tech does affects the ASA so management watch the techs like a hawk. As soon as you walk in the door, management has you under a microscope. Even the time you spend taking a dump is recorded. And any deviation from their specs are met with a heavy hand.

When your shift starts you sign into your phone and you immediately start to Idle. Idle is bad. Very, very bad. Too much Idle time and you will feel the iron fist of management. But you need time to log into your PC and then start up and sign into the 10 applications you need to do your job. Lucky for us we have a special code we can put in the phone that allows us Sign In time. Don’t go over 5 minutes though! Of course management only implemented that sign in time after a class action lawsuit was settled. Before that you had to be at your desk, and signed in (which takes about 10 minutes) BEFORE YOUR SHIFT STARTED. When your shift started you had better be ready to take a call immediately (or feel the iron fist). That this was wrong was brought up numerous times to management, but they ignored it until the lawsuit was filed.

Now you are signed in, management is watching carefully. Your entire day consists of idle time,call Time,hold time and wrap time. Call time is the amount of time you spend on the call with the customer. Hold time is the time the customer spends on hold. Wrap time is the time after the customer hangs up and before you hit the Ready button to take another call.

Management is oh so generous with breaks, for an 8.5 hour shift, we get two 15 minutes breaks and a 30 (unpaid) minute lunch. THE ABSOLUTE MINIMUM REQUIRED BY LAW. Yep, along with those crappy-ass monitors, Cablevision never fails to go the extra mile for us techs!!!

Let’s not forget personal time. Again management shows their generosity by allowing us a whopping 8 minutes of personal time. So, you've got an upset stomach today and have to use the bathroom frequently or take too long doing so? Or take a couple of quick cigarette breaks? Don't worry, you’ll hear about it and it will affect you at raise time. Once, I was sick and took a while in the bathroom. A supervisor actually sent a lead to find me. They weren't concerned about my health, they were concerned I was away from my desk for 10 minutes.

But management is most concerned with Call Time,hold time and wrap time. Those are the most important numbers when it comes to your evaluation. Management’s Call time goal is 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Although I’ve heard from a lying sack of shit manager that this stat does not affect your rating, I’ll believe that when a flock of pigeons fly out of my ass.

Management is very short sighted about Call time. As a competent responsible tech, I’d rather answer all the customer’s questions, and spend the extra time to avoid them calling back. As an example, a customer wants to setup his email for himself and his wife. A tech drinking the management kool-aid would setup the customer’s email in Outlook Express and then tell the customer to do the same thing he did and setup his wife’s email himself. Of course this customer will call back after being unable to figure out what to do. Although the tech met management’s goal for his call time, he created an extra call for the customer. Even worse are the techs (encouraged by some supervisors), that just tell the customer to use Webmail. OOL is a POP shop, it is not IMAP. Email is designed to be temporarily held on the OOL servers, there is no backup, no disaster recovery and you know how I feel about the BISC. DO NOT USE WEBMAIL AS YOUR PRIMARY EMAIL ACCESS!!!

Techs are setup to fail when it comes to the other stats, hold time and wrap time. These goals (30 seconds each) were instituted long before OV. They may have been reasonable when you only had OOL calls but they are unrealistic for OV calls. First of all, we have the issue of the lack of available leads or floor walkers covered previously . The longer it takes to get your questions answered, the longer your hold time is. And OV calls often require you to put the customer on hold and verify the problem by calling other numbers. This may also require a walk to the Comm Desk to use some of the special phones there (Simplifying things, if a customer is in a 973 area code and is having problems calling 973 numbers you can use one of the 973 area code phones at the Comm Desk. If you are doing your job correctly, there is no way in hell you can keep your hold under 30 seconds.

Wrap time is one of the most problematic of all the stats. Management expects us to be able to detail everything about a call as we are talking to the customer. This is why when you say something to a tech, he pauses, you hear typing in the background and then he may ask you another question or ask you to clarify or repeat your statement. But there are a number of issues that cannot be resolved on the phone, they might have to be escalated. In that case, you get all the info from the customer and then after they hang up, you have to document all the customers details into the ticket you are escalating. Or you might have to fill out a web form with about 20 different pieces of info. In a competent company you might think all these tools are linked and can talk to each other, but we are speaking about Cablevision.. Everything is cut and paste. One big problem with techs needing to match the Wrap time is that they skimp on the details in the ticket or even just blow off escalating it. Even worse are the techs that don't bother to save a ticket. No ticket means no wrap time! So if you ever call in and the tech tells you there is no record that you called before this may be the reason why. Having a short wrap time encourages techs to be brief on their documentation and that will hinder the next tech if you call in again, he will have to start from scratch with you.

But the statistic that weighs the most on a tech's performance has nothing to do with being technical or even the success of a tech with your problem. It is concerned only with how the customer is spoken to. Next to their precious ASA, this is what Management pays the most attention. That's right, they don't care if the tech helps you, they just care that the tech speaks the proper phrases. It's called BPA and I'll cover it another day.

With these "goals", management is thinking they are running an efficient call center but if you look deeper at true customer service you see that results do not match the numbers. Management is simply shooting themselves in the foot.

But why should they want to reduce calls? Fewer calls mean less staff means less responsibility which means a smaller bonus. It is in management's best interest (and thus the tech's) to have a customer call in 3 times over 3 days for <10 minutes each at different times of the day instead of having 1 30 minute call. Less call time, less wrap time and less hold time. It's the Cablevision way, everyone wins but the customer......