Authored by ‘The Headset Hero’ – original article

How can a headset monkey replace a GP receptionist who knows her patients, asked one of the UK’s best-read newspapers.

Before I get into a considered response to this question, let me vent a little. Why is it assumed that a GP’s receptionist is a “her” and not a “he”, are there still jobs which are off limits to people because of their sex?

Maybe the paper in question uses monkeys to write some articles which would explain a few of the holes in this sentence. Although let me be clear, I am not accusing monkeys of being sexist in the slightest. In fact the article is written by a GP who is fortunately (for both of us) not my doctor.

What really angers me about this article is the assumption that a contact centre equates to poor service. The assumption is that because I work in a contact centre I am incapable of providing a quality service. As far as this paper is concerned, because I wear a headset I’m an idiot.

I wonder what this doctor thinks when he is confronted with someone wearing a headset and glasses? I guess his internal dialogue must go something like this: headset [monkey] + glasses [clever] = does not compute. With that kind of thinking it begs the question of how the doctor makes conclusions about his patient’s conditions!

The article talks about finally getting to speak to a ‘real person’. What exactly does he mean by putting the words, real and person, in inverted commas? Am I not a real person? You’d think he’d know given his exulted status as a doctor, but then again I really wouldn’t expect much from a man that writes: “Patients who can’t bring ­themselves to confide in ­someone who works in my ­surgery are going to have real problems opening up to a headset monkey with a checklist on his computer screen and a Pot Noodle on his desk.”

Am I the only person who, on reading this article, starts to have a lot of sympathy for this doctor’s patients and begins to understand why they might not want to open-up to someone that works for him? I’d hope the doctor had a better handle on psychology than me, but I’m sure that in most instances it is easier for people to open-up anonymously rather than face-to-face. I don’t remember any of my classmates at school ever putting their hand up when a teacher shouted, “Own up!”.

The presumption that contact centres are places devoid of quality people and innovation is not just insulting, it’s also wrong. Just as there are great and not so great doctors, there are great and not so great contact centres. The one where I work isn’t a factory, it is occupied by people who actually care and in turn we are cared for by the business we work for.

I’ve got a fantastic work environment. When I tell people that my employer goes to the effort of protecting me from dangerous noise exposure with an audio processor and provides me with the ergonomic marvel that is my headset it raises a few eyebrows. I can sometimes see them thinking, “Why would they do this?” When they realise, after explanation, that my contact centre is one of the most important elements in my company’s brand and customer service experience and that we are continually delivering innovations and performing little miracles they begin to realise that we are not monkeys at all.

In my years working at a number of contact centres I’ve had the pleasure of working with scientists, poets, artists, actors, mathematicians, philosophers, students, grandparents and I’ve even worked with doctors (well, people with PhD’s) but I’ve never worked with a monkey. I did once work with someone who had a strange penchant for monkey nuts, but that’s another story.

So, to the author of this article, I say judge me on my merits, not on my rather lovely Savi™ headset. I’ve got many skills and experiences and I love my job, I love helping rather than judging people, if that makes me a monkey then so be it – who would want to be anything else?