CALL CENTER CONFIDENTIAL: Perp Walk: Ray Perry’s Last Minutes at the Call Center

by: Gordon Lawrence

At the Call Center, there is no privacy when it comes to individual worker productivity results.

Our statistics are posted for everyone to see.

There was a time when the report was sorted, best to worst. A horizontal line in the middle separated those making the grade from the “below the line” workers. The poor folks at the bottom usually were the subject of lunch room chatter.

The call center stats are now sorted alphabetically and most of us take a passing glance at our co-worker’s results.

The statistics are always on the bulletin board, updated daily.

And usually the stats are given to us individually with a note from the supervisor.

Usual notations include, “Need more sales,” “Get that AHT (average handle time) down” or “More rebuttals!”

And then there is the dreaded “See me.”

Veteran call center workers, the smart ones, have long stopped being concerned with the public posting of stats.

There is no need to see other people’s stats. They vary tremendously due to no fault of the person (a future column). And there are more important things in life than checking up on your coworkers results.

Which brings us to Ray Perry.

I met Ray in the break room when our team was off-schedule (usual break schedule changed due to a meeting explaining a new procedure) and I learned that Ray had moved from the country.

“I don’t want to work at home, I can’t get a job in town, so I moved to the big city.”

Being new to the call center, Ray was surprised by the availability of public statistics.

As he put it, “I’m new, so I can see why I’m near the bottom, but that doesn’t make it an easier.”

I explained to him that he will get better with experience, that we don’t examine the stats to see who is trailing, that much of the total is due to good luck, and that it it’s not a big deal.

“That’s easy for you to say,” he answered.

Ray was stressed out.

Security is tight at the call center.

As a senior manager once told me, “We want you to see a guard first thing when you come in the door and last thing when you go out the door.”

And the guards include several surly types who, we joked, ate raw meat for lunch and participated in mixed martial arts competition.

When the call center management announced a sales bonus event, Ray Perry made a very bad decision.

Ray saw that cash bonuses, of up to $100, would be awarded for upsell transactions.

The next day his numbers jumped, and continued in the following days.

LaShawn, our team member always looking to make more money, asked a few days later how all of a sudden his numbers rocketed up.

“I Have a Strong Feeling That This Won’t Have a Happy Ending.”

“LaShawn, I have a strong feeling that this won’t have a happy ending,” I told her.

She looked at me intently, leaned forward to ask a question and I held up my index finger to say, “Don’t ask.”

Seventeen days later on Friday afternoon, at 2:45 PM, four security guards formed a circle around Ray Perry.

“Turn off the phone,” one barked.

When Ray Parker failed to move, one of the guards unplugged the headset and yanked it off of Ray’s head, which snapped forward, then backward.

Two guards lifted Ray out of the seat.

“Now you’re going to get your personal belongings out of the desk,” a guard said.

When Ray Parker failed to move quickly enough, a guard moved his face inches from Ray’s and screamed, “Now, right now.”

Ray shook as he removed his few possessions and put them in the box provided by the guards.

Holding his box with two hands, face glowing red, he wondered what would happen next.

It was time for the perp walk.

The guards pulled Ray in a slow, zig-zag pattern through the call center.

Down one aisle, up the next.

Across the front of the department, across the back of the department, through the cafeteria, through each break room, slowing down as they passed meeting rooms for the shocked employees and visitors to take in the show.

Ray must have walked, or been dragged, over one mile.

At one point a guard screamed in Ray’s ear, “How are you enjoying this, cheater.” Ray hung his head.

At the door, as he left the department, as everyone watched, a guard snapped Ray’s security badge from the lanyard around his neck.

With great effect, as if brandishing a sword, the guard raised the badge and announced, “You won’t be needing this.” For good measure, the guards pushed Ray hard from behind; he left the department horizontally, flying through the door sideways and finally landing, hard, on the cement floor.

Finally Ray was deposited in an HR conference room for a 45 second termination meeting. Ray, totally shaken, had no idea of what forms he was signing; he scribbled his signature as the guards hovered over him, pushing him continuously in the back.

Finally, he was lifted by the guards, carried out the back door and thrown head first into the huge trash bin outside the building. The last thing he heard was the guards screaming, “Be sure to tell your friends what happens when you slam customers.”

If he was smart, Ray Perry drove straight to his family farm, resumed his chores and forgot his call center job. However it will be a long time before he, or we, forget his perp walk.


Thank you for visiting Call Center Confidential. Please invite your friends and coworkers to join us.  I welcome your comments.  And I invite you to visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

…….Next Time: The October ICMI Conference in Dallas – Brenda Martin’s Unique Reason to Attend 

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