How It Is

Cold Calling Support

Sometimes I’m not nice to ‘support’ but that’s when it’s not support, but sales.

Recently a coworker said I was mean to support, because I was firm and annoyed with someone on the phone. “Every time I’ve heard you take a support call in the office, you’ve been mean.”

I corrected him “Those were cold calls. When I call support, with the exception of the idiot I got at NetSol, I usually walk away from my desk so we can have a long, friendly, chat.”

Basically he only saw me talking to cold callers and thought I was mean. And I get why. Are not cold-calls a part of support? Given that cold-calling people who didn’t pay for (and who paid but never used) hosting, I can see where he might be taking it personally. I didn’t mention, since we both agreed that surveys calling you and offering to pay you was shady at best, but I don’t see what he does as a cold call. Debt collection maybe, but he’s not a cold call. He’s calling you because he has your information and you already started a relationship with us.

So why do I hate cold calls? Well it’s the same reason I generally hate the emails “Can I ask you for a debugging favor?” You’re trying to get something off me without compensation, or generally thanks (no, Anne and Benny, you were fine). A cold call is even worse, though, because it really is just an out of nowhere call.

Whats an example of the worst kind of cold call? Phone scams. I actually get a lot of those for services I don’t use, like Microsoft, and it’s actually made me tell people when there are legit calls “If you’re calling from X company, I’m going to call you back at the main contact number. What case number can I reference?” I did that with the cold-call for a debt collection which I argued. I didn’t recognize them, I didn’t know them, and I was not about to give them my credit card info over the phone.

I got into an argument with a fake Microsoft call recently. “Sir, let me stop you. You’re calling someone who works in IT. I don’t have a Windows computer, you’re working for a scam company. I know many good companies in India–”

And he shouted at me “I am not in India. Please listen, your computer has a virus.”

So I raised my voice, “Sir, no it does not. You are working for a scam–”

And he screamed, “YOU ARE A SCAM!” My wife could hear him. I tried to cut him off and explain, he shouted insults (I used to work with people from India, I know some insults) and I hung up.

Hand holding a phone

I’m sure I could have been nicer. Equally I could be nicer to the salespeople from DirecTV who call. “We’d like to upgrade your service.” and I say no thank you. “But it’s free for 3 months.” And I know that, but I know in 3 months I have to remember to cancel the service. No thank you. Again, no thank you. It’s around the second ‘no thank you’ that I start to lose my patience. Certainly I try to be firm, so they don’t think I’m easy to convince, but I’m not trying to be mean.

It’s possibly a side effect of ‘Bitchy Resting Face.’ Whenever I’m firm and direct and say “No, I don’t want that service.” I get push back that I’ve been mean to the person on the phone. But if I say the same thing in a sweet and kind voice, I’m told I’m being too soft and that encourages the hard sell. From my end, it’s a no win.

This is probably why I’m a bad salesman. If I say “You may be interested in product ABC, it can do these things.” and the person says “No, thank you.” I stop. I may say “Okay, if you change your mind or have later questions, please just ask.” and I move on. Because I, personally, hate the hard sell. I don’t want someone convincing me I want something I don’t need. Sales calls are not something I appreciate.

On the other hand, of the few times I’ve been called by companies for support (not the other way around), I’m cautious and then pleasent. When I moved to California, my bank and credit cards called me. “Hi, we’re seeing a lot of charges from your card in a new location.” I laughed and asked if it was my new city and if it was the Target. They said it was, I assured them that was me. “Well, we’re going to hold those transactions until you update your account with your new address.”

Boom. That was awesome. Security and support in one. I had to update it, of course, but in doing to, I confirmed for them it was me, and I helped them out. This was good because the next week someone in Kentucky tried to use my card numbers and they knew it wasn’t me. Of course, the amount of travel I do makes this hard, but they keep checking with me when appropriate.

And that support? I always smile for.