I’ve recently completed five-weeks of training to be a cruise agent for a large travel organization that has separate departments for cruises, car rentals, vacation packages and more. For four weeks, I learned about twelve different cruise lines while sitting in a freezing, windowless room. At five weeks, I was expected to be taking my first calls. Honestly, I think I could’ve done with five months of training. Minimum.
I humbly admit that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I accepted the job. I came prepared to my interview with a host of questions for those whom I expected would be asking me questions—but I see now that there was no way of knowing what I should’ve been asking. I was excited to be interviewing and needed a job. In turn, they needed new hires before the busiest season of the year.
In addition to learning about twelve different cruise lines—each with their own personality, perks, restrictions, etc., I needed to learn how to operate a phone system with multiple lines while working on five different programs displayed on two monitors—all while keeping in mind company policies for time management and lunch hours determined by law.
By now, you’ve probably glanced up to the title of this blog and double-checked to make sure you’ve read it correctly. Yes, the word introvert is in the title. I can hear the question brewing. What’s an introvert doing in a call center?
Yes, being on the phone for a minimum of eight hours takes a lot of energy. Every night, I’m drained, and it has been difficult to restore that energy in time for my next twelve-hour day of being sociable…for when I need to kick it into high gear and be “on” to provide quality customer service in a low-wall office environment.
In fact, during the first week, I had a massive anxiety attack. I had to reach out to a friend to help me down off the ledge and get me back into work the next day. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that getting this job was nothing short of a miracle after submitting over 100 job applications, attending job fairs, networking at Meetups, hiring job coaches, subscribing to job boards and just plain hoofing it around town. I needed this job and had to drive 3,000 miles to get it.
I’ve learned so much about cruising in the two weeks that are now under my belt. My belt is pulled tighter because I’ve lost ten pounds since day one. I hear things will continue to get easier; however, there are those who have been doing this for a very long time and they say you’ll never feel completely comfortable. Just as you learn something, information will change.
As someone who alphabetizes her spice rack for convenience and speed, this last bit of information is a wee-bit hard to digest.
I had a call the other night where I was attempting to do my very best to assist. A woman called in. She was lovely. She was kind, patient, and easy to speak with. Her husband got on the line and started yelling at me.
Booking a cruise is a complicated process. It takes time. I had no idea what the process was before starting. So, I want to pause and offer a kind suggestion:
If you ever find yourself calling to ask for help regarding a cruise, just remember that there is someone on the other side of that call that has a story all their own. They’re doing the very best they can. Screaming at them doesn’t move things along any faster. It does the opposite. In fact, during a busy season, time is of the essence. The agent is looking at live inventory. What you want, for the price you want, could be gone in fifteen minutes. Listen. Ask questions. Yelling that you don’t want to be put on hold while the agent gathers info for you will not get you a better deal if the agent can’t speak to the people who offer the deals.
See what I’m saying?
Sure, there are some agents on the line who may not be ideal. Wait times might be long but you do have the option to call again and get someone else. Don’t want to call? Book online. But please, give the agent a little wiggle room. It may be her first call. Or maybe it’s her first week. We all have first weeks. Remember what yours have felt like. You could also be reaching an introvert who is trying to find her way in an extroverted world…
And she’s doing the best she can until she knows better—while also hoping she doesn’t get stuck in the iffy office elevator anytime soon.