Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tiers and Cheers

One month ago almost to the minute, I took my last chat at work. 

The client decided to amputate chat from the campaign at our site. We were given the choice of moving to Order Support, where I had been when I first started with the company in 2018, or changing campaigns and becoming a moderator for a major social media platform. 

To me, the choice was a no-brainer. I love the people in my campaign. I have some familiarity with Order Support (OS). The social media job involves monitoring the site for icky content and presumably making said icky content disappear. Easy job, sure...but to make it disappear I first have to look at it. 

They have wellness counsellors on site. That little tidbit told me all I needed to know. I wouldn't last a month. 

So: order support. A week of class, which was very much needed: yes, I worked the job from July to December 2018, but (a) a lot has changed since then and (b) I'm one of those people who puts the past in the past as soon as I can. 

I failed my first accreditation attempt, which was a kick in the teeth. But I nailed the second one, and was accredited as a Tier 1 Order Support agent on December 10th. A week of "grad bay" followed: that's call center for "halfway house" between classroom and full production. 

Tier 1 OS is basically doing all the slightly more complicated things the frontline chat and voice agents can't. We're cogs in a machine that stretches between our warehouses,  the carriers (UPS, FedEx, and PostMates) and our customers, shepherding the delivery process. For instance, let's say you ordered  a Thingie. After it shipped, you realized you put in the wrong address. You'd chat in. Up to a month ago, I'd take your chat and raise a ticket to the carrier with the updated address. For three days between December 10 and 14th (I was off the 11th), I would then follow that ticket throughout its journey. Maybe the carrier would tell us, so sorry, it was too late and the Thingie delivered to the original address. Okay: I'd relay that information to you and close the ticket. That's easy. Or maybe, for whatever reason, the carrier was sending the Thingie back to us. Now I'd make sure you would get a refund or a replacement -- nobody's reshipping nothin' right now, thank you, Covid-19 -- assign that to the correct warehouse, dot the tees and cross my eyes, and close the ticket. Other, occasionally more complex issues depending on what Thingie you had, whether you financed it, whether you traded in an older Thingie, the status of that traded in Thingie...more wrinkles than you might imagine. 

Did you notice the three days I mentioned up there? On my FIRST DAY out of grad bay -- my first day when I was expected to walk on my own -- I got an email inviting me to Tier 2 training. That was a Thursday; the training started on Monday, December 21. Three days of class, a day of shadowing, two days of practice in groups,  two days devoted to accreditation, and a week of grad bay to follow if we passed.

That was the plan.

Tier 2 is shipping investigations. FedEx says they delivered your Thingie; you say you didn't get it. Or you send us back a defective Thingie and when the warehouse gets it, the box is empty. Or a different Thingie is in it. Or it never gets back to us at all.  I pair up with FedEx to determine what happened. If you're eligible, I make you whole. That's a big saying: "make the customer whole". It means get you your Thingie or a full refund. If you're entitled to it.  I get to decide that, using a huge string of criteria. It's easier than Tier 1 in that there are fewer kinds of tasks, but the tasks you do get are considerably more in-depth...drowning depth, some of them. 

Covid-19 has, as you might imagine, totally buggered things up. Many stores are closed and many people choose not to go to the ones that are open, so shipping has increased dramatically and with that, the possibility of Murphy, of Law fame, popping up and saying howdy. There are so many shipping investigations that they've been coming in every seven seconds since March. Tier 2 agents are DESPERATELY needed. 

That's maybe why we got the three days of class and day of shadowing, but only one day of practice. And on that one day of practice -- Christmas Eve -- I found that I was still coded for Tier 1 in the system. So I got to watch tasks get worked, but absolutely zero hands on training. To make matters worse, every single task I saw on Thursday involved gift cards, a topic never even mentioned in class. You don't do shipping investigations on gift cards. You simply replace them, if the customer is eligible...wait, that word "simply' has no business being there at all. Replacing a gift card is NOT EASY. I'm digging around in screen after screen of SAP, inputting all manner of arcanum...you would be stunned at how many screens of information there are for a single item on a single order. 

To recap. I went into today's accreditation with no hands on practice, having not even seen a shipping investigation worked since Wednesday...and with all of three days of real experience in Tier 1. I had yet to even send an email to a customer through the company's (needlessly, in my opinion) complex email program. I was scared, angry, and dead certain I would fail. Most likely twice. 

I was called to the virtual accreditation room at 8:04. This time my accreditor happened to be the same person who had passed me not three weeks before as a Tier 1 agent.  I was told not to worry about gift cards, they were too challenging to serve as an accreditation task. Great, except that seemed to be almost all that was coming in. 'Tis the season, don't you know. 

The task that came through was ... I couldn't believe my luck. I knew instantly that I could not fulfill the request -- the carrier used made that specific request impossible. I knew that in CHAT! Okay, slow down, find the PR that tells you this is a task that T2 OS can work...that is, not a task I'd have to transfer or escalate. This was a fact instantly recognizable to anyone who has worked in not just OS, but also in chat or voice, but knowing it and showing it are two different things. When you're being tested, you have to triple-armour plate your ass and explain every tiny step and why you're doing it. Now find the correct procedural document, review the document for eligibility--aha! look! This carrier is (smirk) ineligible for this kind of request. Now go  to the specific subsection dealing with the request...step 4: "Review carrier for eligibility (see Eligibility section). If the carrier is ineligible, do the following:" send an email (not in that hellishly complicated email program, but through the main shipping investigation tool); leave notes, close the ticket, and complete the task in my workflow management tool so I can get assigned another one.  (The best thing about OS: ONE TASK AT A TIME!) Coming from double chats, that's a huge relief. Slip that workflow tool back into "training" so I DON'T get another task, and await the news that I aced it.

I aced it.

Longtime and perceptive readers might note that I'm always terrified going into these things in a way exams never scared me back in school...and that my terror is often unfounded. Yes, I failed the first T1 OS accreditation attempt, but that was because although I knew damned well what had to be done, I couldn't find the document proving it. And in this job, finding and reading procedural documents is easily 80% of the battle. 

I can not stress enough how well-founded my terror was this time. I mean that quite literally: I have rarely been so scared of failure. I thanked my accreditor (whose name is Svetomir) kindly and then explained to him through sighs of relief that virtually every task I had seen for the last three days was about six orders of magnitude more difficult than that one.  I have been reassured that so long as I take coaching well -- I always have, it's a strength of mine  -- I'll be fine. I'm still not so sure...but I am IMMENSELY relieved to have that accreditation out of the way!

No comments: