Sunday, October 7, 2007

Late Post Blog #6

While thumbing through the very early edition of the Pitt News, I found a campus job that interested me. According to the ad, this was rated as the number on campus job by the Pitt news last year. With a rep like that, how could I not apply? The job was at the Telefund, a branch of institutional advancement specifically dealing with telephone solicitation of alumni, faculty and friends, a term used very loosely, of the university.

The training was ten hours. It consisted of the reading of a very lengthy Caller Manuel and 5 hours of call training, which was literally you watching a caller make calls for a shift. I thought all this to be a bit much, but because I need to eat I choose to put up with what I thought to be extensive unnecessary training, for what I thought to be a pretty simple job. To my surprise, very unhappy surprise might I add, this job was anything but simple. The telephone script that each caller read was specific to the person they called. It was constantly changing and within the script was room to say just about a million different situation applicable responses. There were responses for just about anything you would/could possibly hear come out of the mouth of the prospect, and what the program did with much accuracy, was navigate human thought.

Smart Caller, (the name of the program we use) is ten steps ahead of the caller and prospect. When you call a prospect, you read verbatim what the screen puts in front of you; punishment is administered for straying too far off of script. The script has already thought of all the possible reactions a person might have to being called at 9 o’clock at night by a sometimes unenthusiastic college student just trying to make book money. Essentially the developers of smart call have tried to engineer the perfect call and response program, in order to bring in the most amount of money possible.

The idea of efficiency as introduce in Talyor, suggest bridging the gap between manager and employees, in order to appease both parties all while increasing the productivity of the employees. With the Telefund there is a huge gap between, not manager and employees, but, boss and employees. The Boss is the one who writes the script, and accounts for any navigation of human thought. The so called Wizard of fundraising, (not of Your job requires that you say exactly what the Boss sees fit, because, after all, he knows the best way to telephone solicit people.

The managers that are present during any given shift are usually seasoned callers, who have been with the program since its start. Although they have the most experience I find it fascinating to listen to them answer caller’s question regarding the appropriate response to specific problems, it’s as if they too are trying desperately to stay in line, and there is virtually no room for human error. Every detail of a call is mathematically calculated.

As I have worked here now for over a month, I have witnessed the frantic hiring process of the Telefund. It seems like each week they hire 10 new callers, and so I wonder, is everybody that works they as frustrated as I am with the perfection that is “smart call” system? And is it the absence of human accountability that makes the job so boring? And yes, I like a number of other people are currently contemplating quitting, because I am finding, it is difficult to ignore the desire for personal accountability or responsibility in the workplace, as unfathomable as that idea might be. Too much structure will not produce better numbers, but rather a higher turnover rate. So what would Taylor suggest with a job like telemarketing…?

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