For the last three years, I’ve worked for a telecommunications company.
It’s not a glamorous industry, and I’ve received my fair share of dirty looks when I tell people what I do. Some act like I’ve violated an unwritten code of ethics while others quickly change the subject.
But the truth is this: telemarketers are precious people created in the image of God that have feelings and dreams and frustrations, just like you. They take call after call, often dealing with angry customers and bearing more abuse than any person should have to put up with.
I get it: Fundraising calls sometimes interrupt your dinner. Customer service reps might not give you the answer you want. You hold the line for 20 minutes only to be told you’ve reached the wrong department and be transferred. Again.
It’s frustrating, I know.
But what if rather than an annoyance, you viewed your next telemarketing call as a chance to show Jesus’ love?
During my time in the phone center, I’ve found several ways to love telemarketers by reflecting on how customers have treated me and my team. Here are 6 ways to express love in action when you get your next telemarketing call:
1. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
It’s easy to vilify someone you don’t see and group them together in the Big Bad Telemarketing Industry. But these people have names and they often have heartbreaking stories. They sit in my office every day and I get to help as their HR Coordinator. But much of their depression and anxiety is due to rude customers. So please treat them as you would like to be treated.
2. Use their first name.
Telemarketers are required to tell you their name at the beginning and end of every call, so make an effort to remember it and use their name throughout your conversation. It’s amazing what a difference this one thing makes. It will remind you that you’re talking to a real person, and it makes them feel more dignified as well.
3. Thank them if they’ve helped.
Yes, it’s their job. And yes, they’re getting paid to do it. But don’t you like to be thanked for a job well done? Even if they weren’t able to solve your issue, thank them for trying. And if they’re the ones calling you, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Thank you for calling. Good bye.”
4. Acknowledge that they are working within certain parameters, and politely ask for alternatives.
I periodically call my phone company to ask for a discount. The first time I was put off by the rep’s unwillingness to help, but after working in a phone center, I realized that they’re often not authorized to offer discounts on their screens. They’re not ill-intentioned and they’re not trying to pull a fast one on you. They’re doing their job within the parameters they are given.
The same goes for donation calls: reps are often required to ask twice for a donation even if you already said “no.” Don’t berate them. They’re doing their job. If you’re not interested, politely say no and exit the call. The Golden Rule applies here, too. If you had to make these phone calls to support your family, wouldn’t you try to follow the rules, too?
5. Don’t raise your voice.
Just don’t. Ask to speak to a supervisor instead. (That would be me.)
6. Look for opportunities to compliment.
I can’t tell you the number of times employees have told me that one good call kept them going all day. Just one person with a pleasant attitude, or a sincere complement can change a telemarketer’s day. Look for things you can praise in the telemarketer. And if they’ve done an exceptional job, ask to speak to their supervisor to let them know you appreciate them.
I’ll admit: expressing love to telemarketers might be difficult at first. I know it was hard for me before I started working at a call center. But loving our telemarketing neighbors, even over the phone, can be done.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
I challenge you to try it. The next time you’re on a phone call, look for ways to leave the other person with a good feeling at the end of the call. Yes, it’s natural to be primarily concerned with the reason you called in, and of course you should leave the conversation with your issue resolved. But what if you could show someone the love of Jesus while you did it?
This post is part of the series Love in Action, a series exploring creative ways to love people in different stages or paths of life. If you have a story you want to share that will inspire people to love in concrete/creative ways, contact me at email@example.com.
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