6 October 2009 – coffee, tests and trying not to fall asleep

Temptation in the canteen

Temptation in the canteen

The highlight of today was when they handed out the pass cards. This meant I could get a coffee from the canteen at lunchtime. Dev showed me how to work the machine to put money on the card, which was a tad on the embarrassing side because it turned out to be extremely simple, basically just put the card in the slot at the top and the money in the other slot then press the button. It even takes notes, although I didn’t have any, but there’s an ATM at the other end of the canteen so I guess I could have got some money out if I’d wanted to. Probably best not though or I might have been tempted by all the cooked food, chocolate bars and cakes.

The coffee was amazing, a proper latte just like Costa or Starbucks. It was a good job too because I needed a decent coffee like I’ve never needed one before by then. We’d spent the morning practicing taking a payment. Really, you’d think that would be a simple matter wouldn’t you, it was a piece of cake in my first call centre job, not so much here. Of course we didn’t practice on the real system, they have a special training system set up that’s apparently just like the real one.

First Dev went through it on his computer which was connected to a big screen so we could all see. Then we had to log on and try it ourselves. We had half an hour to practice and then there was a test. There is a special test programme and, if you make a mistake, even a typing error on, say, the credit card number, you fail and have to go back to the start. At the end you get a score based on how many goes you had to have before you got it right. Anything under 80% is a fail. No one failed but I began to wonder what would happen if you did. The boys seemed to finish really quickly, then Louise and Emma finished so it was just Kim and I still working away while the others were chatting and messing around. That was when it all felt really high pressure and stressy.

As if that wasn’t enough, we then had to get into pairs and go through it all again, just on the practice system, but this time pretending to be on the phone. For anyone lucky enough not to have had to go through this kind of torture this is called role play and it sucks. Actually speaking to a real customer on the phone is one thing but sitting next to someone and pretending to be on the phone to them is excruciatingly embarrassing. You feel like a complete prat. As we were the last to finish the test Kim and I paired up, each taking a turn to be the customer. Of course, being last meant everyone else was just sitting round and it felt like they were listening in. Jas and Dev were listening in for real. We knew this because they kept making ‘helpful’ suggestions. If ever there was an incentive to finish quicker that was it.

In the afternoon, by way of light relief, we had some product training. Seems to me a long boring presentation with lots of facts and figures is not the best of plans after lunch. Yesterday we had the history of the company and data protection lectures at the same time with the same result, six trainees struggling to keep their eyes open. Wonder what they’re going to bore us with tomorrow?

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