Life lessons from working in a call center

Seven weeks changed my life.

I've been too busy learning a new job and dealing with external factors to sit down and write. I've had the thoughts and ideas brewing in the back of my head for several weeks. I'm starting my seventh week at my new job tomorrow and will soon surpass the length of my first job after I retired from the Air Force.

I finally took a few quiet moments to reflect and try to get something in digital ink. So, here goes...

I worked in the Total Force Service Center - San Antonio, the US Air Force's personnel assistance call center for seven weeks. When I walked away from the call center for the last time I saw the world differently.

How did I end up working at a call center? Many people asked this to my face (and behind my back).  I can sum up the reason in one word. Arrogance. God gave me the opportunity to work in a call center because I thought I was too good for it. I could not understand how people I knew working there could 'stoop so low'. I understand now. An uncertain financial future changes one's perspective. Significantly. Humility is not the only lesson I was reminded of in my call center job.

I am sorry. How fuming-mad customers responded to those three little words amazed me--still amazes me when I think about it. Was the problem my fault? No. But, saying, "I am sorry," immediately turned the conversation in a positive direction every single time I dealt with an angry customer--without fail. So, when you deal with customers (or family members) it's okay to say, "I'm very sorry about that," and, "How can we make this better?" Notice how I said 'we'? Yes, we're in this together.

People don't like to wait--make it worth the wait for them. I knew exactly how long someone had been on hold when I picked up the line. Sometimes their guns started blaring the instant I picked up the line. Refer to the above paragraph--again, very effective. I found myself thinking of how I would feel if I waited 20 or 30 minutes to talk to me. My sympathetic thought process made me routinely break my time limit, but I ended nearly every call I took with a very grateful person on the other end of the line.

Time is limited. When you're forced to literally watch the clock, you realize how time is quickly fleeting. First, I want to say my contract employer gave me plenty of time for lunch and several generous breaks throughout the day. However, every minute, every second that was not a scheduled break belonged to the company. They wanted and got their money's worth from every employee. Watching the clock all day reminded me of the persistence of time. It's limited quantity. Make the best of your time; you won't get it back. It's gone.

Be grateful for what you have. It may not be the most ideal situation for you, but if you're staying afloat or if your getting by, it's okay. You're still moving forward. A grateful attitude goes along very well with a positive attitude. It makes for a happy life in spite of circumstances.

Do your best. I saved the best for last (no pun intended). I've lived this lesson all my life. The "finish the phone call quickly and take the next call" concept tested me. Working in a call center is a thankless job. How can you make a thankless job better? How can you make your life better? Be the best you can be. God commands it. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart..." I can't really top that. Work at it with all your heart.