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[personal profile] crunch
I just read on the Age website the following article Which discusses how the Netspace Call center staff are allowed to go away from their desk 4 times a day and have 12 seconds between calls.

There appears to be ample evidence that this is in fact the case.

I'M a customer of Netspace. I have been since December 1995. So that makes me a long term customer. But this sort of thing from the supplier of my internet services makes me think I dont want to be involved with that sort of company any more.

I want to complain to Netspace but im not sure how to. I want to draw their attention to my displeasure in that sort of treatment of their staff, i want to point out that im not happy with my money supporting a company that treats their people like that. I just doint think they will care. I can see them responding with "we are providing a service that we know you want and this helps us provide this service to you"

Netspace used to be the up and coming internet service provider in Australia. They used to be one of the best ISPs around. But now that's not so much the case.

Internode is the one to go with if I do change ISP but im not sure if I really want to change ISPs.


Date: 2007-09-25 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
12 seconds between calls is generally plenty. When I was working helpdesk we used to give ourselves 7 seconds if we needed it, but often I'd be happy to take the next call straight away. That said it was Uni helpdesk, and we weren't 100% loaded, so there were longer gaps.

The breaks on the other hand - you need to be able to go to the toilet.

I would like to hear another opinion on what it's really like before trusting a 16 year old known practical joker's comments.


Date: 2007-09-25 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree. It's the toilet breaks bit that I had issues with not the 12 seconds between calls. IE: you can ONLY be away from your desk 4 times a day.

I'm keeping my ear out for an update on what these guys are doign and am willing to accept that they are in the right and the 16 year old is in the wrong. But still..

Where there is smoke theres fire?

Date: 2007-09-26 04:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Try being a teacher- you can't go to the loo if you're in class, if you have yard duty at morning or afternoon break you could go for 4 hours without a loo break, unless you get someone to cover for you.

My point- 4 loo breaks plus a lunch break per day is perfectly reasonable, unless you have an illness.

Date: 2007-09-25 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I want to complain to Netspace but im not sure how to. I want to draw their attention to my displeasure in that sort of treatment of their staff, i want to point out that im not happy with my money supporting a company that treats their people like that. I just doint think they will care. I can see them responding with "we are providing a service that we know you want and this helps us provide this service to you"

Point out exactly what you've said here.

That you're not happy with how their employees are treated.
That you're not eager to continue being a customer should this treatment continue.
Now, Im not sure about what kind of laws exist in terms of ensuring that call center workers get appropriate breaks and whatnot, but thats not really the point.
The point is that it doesnt *matter* if they're providing a service that we want, or if in fact, their possible breaches of workplace laws are helping them do that.
Just becuase people are paying for a service doesnt make any mistreatment of employees acceptable.

Were I a Netspace customer, I would defintely be writing to complain, and register my displeasure.
With any luck a lot of folk will, Its important to add your voice should you feel strongly.

As an aside, Internode are fantastic.
They got me connected relatively quickly, Ive only had to deal with their tech support once (when I first got things set up) and they rarely have any downtime that Ive experienced.

Date: 2007-09-25 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not sure the "only allowed away from desks 4 times a day" is right.

Reading the article where it quotes the Netspace letter, it says:

"If you are unavailable to take calls for any other reason, you will put your phone in not ready, you will not under any circumstance log out."

So what stops a person putting their phone into "not ready" and going to the toilet? Reading on it says they "do not expect to see agents going into a not ready state after each call so that you can complete tasks related to it." So if someone is working, finishes a call, puts their phone to "not ready", goes to toilet then comes back, but only does that a few times a day... Does the phone auto logout after a certain amount of time "not ready"?

Admittedly, I've never worked call centre (though I have worked a phone based role in a control room) and I don't know how Netspace in particular works.

That said, I agree with the responder above that if you don't like the practice, let them know in a letter.

Date: 2007-09-25 06:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow! 12 seconds... thats an eternity.
I was told at a manager when working for the nasty telco not to drink so much water because I had to go to the loo between breaks sometimes. I was also told lot of other over zealous things. We were meant to be robotic monkeys after all.

You phone just stays in Not Ready in the call centres I have worked in. Time, frequency, of when you put you phone in Not ready is noted and can be recalled by management. Loging in tends to tell them if your there or not for your shift. A large percentage of staff in call centres, especially telcos are agency staff or casuals.

Current CC we have no "Not ready" time but we have withdrawal codes, like breaks, admin and a personal one for Toliet, phone calls etc (For a CC my current job is great, Love it). We have Availibilty KPIs to meet and withdrawl affect the levels of these. They are easy to obtain. <3 current employer.

Date: 2007-09-25 06:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You'll find that is pretty standard for call centres. All call management software monitors call times in secs. So the not logging out thing is to continually monitor call times etc. Most call centres will allow their employees to go on a toilet break in addition to their paid tea breaks and lunch breaks, but if the toilet breaks become over the top, they will call the employee in.

People will argue that this is acceptable behaviour from an employer. I am not one of them. The continual watching over the shoulder attitude is the reason I gave up being a TL in a call centre, and gave up on phone support all together.

The article may highlight Netspace but all ISP's will have policies relating to breaks, toilet breaks and what their call management software needs to be set to for each break.... it comes with the territory.

Date: 2007-09-26 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Dude, as Neef has stated. If you are feeling like you should complain. Then as one of their customers, raise your complaint to Netspace.

I will not comment on the actual issue as I have not had the opportunity to discuss this with Netspace management, nor am I privy to the company e-mail they have sent out.

From experience, call centre staff are expected to be "available" to take calls during their shifts. They may have scheduled breaks (dependent on their agreements with their employer and how the team is actually run) which can be monitored. Also, the performance of the call centre is monitored via whatever performance monitoring is done.

At Connect, tech support staff were allowed 3 set breaks during the day. They had 2 15 minute tea breaks and a 30 min lunch break. As listed in their contracts. What this means is... the staff were allowed to log out exactly 3 times a day, every other time was either Busy or wrap up. That doesn't mean they're not allowed to go to the toilet, get a drink or what not. But it *was* monitored. And staff were informed that if they were taking longer than 10 mins to resolve a ticket, that they needed to escalate or inform their manager/supervisor that they needed more time to resolve an issue.

Mind you, some people misunderstood the bloody contracts, and instead of getting clarification from their manager/employer, they cracked the shits. :)

I suspect the same thing is happening with Netspace. Employees are misunderstanding the e-mail, and not seeking further clarification.

Date: 2007-10-27 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For the sake of seeing both sides of the story, here's the response from Netspace:

I have to say, though, that I agree with the view of Niels Kjellerup quoted in the article from The Age: call centres should not be run through the use of statistics. I fondly recall the Bart era, where stats were compiled and analysed, but not used as a sole indicator of performance, or to drive better results.


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