Posted by: digibirder | July 31, 2010

What a week!

Still no photos, I’m afraid. We simply haven’t been anywhere to take any decent images. We did meet up with Quacky Pete when he was in Yorkshire the other week, but the day was quite a washout weather-wise. It rained all the time we were at Castle Howard and only eased off once we had gone our separate ways. Keith and I called at York on the way home, as we wanted to visit a couple of shops, and we decided to eat at La Vecchia Scuola, a fabulous Italian restaurant in a former girls’ school that we have visited a couple of times before. Nice day but shame about the weather.

The craft fair in Pickering was a bit of a disappointment. I only sold four greeting cards all day. I have another one next weekend and then again in September, so we’ll see how they go. I have worked out that I can still attend these fairs, despite my new job, as I will be working Mon-Fri for a few more weeks following my training period, which might just take me to the September fair, then I will start whatever shift pattern I’m allocated. I still don’t know what team I will be on.

I started my new job last Monday and the week was spent in a classroom with eight other new people (some are going into Customer Services and four of us are Tech Support) to learn about the various options on the broadband and phone products, and how to deal with customers, and a quick look at the software we will be using to log the support calls and tickets. We’ve also had talks from various people on policies and procedures. On Thursday we had a test to see how much we’d remembered, and we all passed that. Then we went onto the call-centre floor to sit with an experienced advisor to see what sort of calls we may be dealing with. I sat with a young guy who had a bit of a goth look going on, but he was very nice. However, we only managed three calls, as the final one I listened in to lasted 40 minutes! Some old fellow didn’t want to be told that the fault was with his line and he kept going round in circles explaining that it had already been tested by his previous broadband supplier and found to be fault-free.

On Friday we had a ‘fun-day’, except I was bored silly by mid-afternoon. We moved from the classroom into one of the board rooms and it was quite an informal day, with a bit of learning thrown in. We had Play-Doh on the table and a box of Lego and we occasionally played a game of Jenga. We also played a game where, in turn, we had to turn our backs while the rest of the group was shown a name. Then you had to ask each person in turn various questions to find out who you were. It was a game to illustrate the difference between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ questions. And so it went on. Then some more team leaders came in to talk about Quality Control, and informed us that we would have regular reviews of our calls and interactions with callers – about 9-10 a month, apparently. This is in addition to the targets we have to achieve. Despite it not being a sales position, we still have to work to certain call targets. This is quite low to begin with but then increases as you progress through the 6-month probation period.  And we have to spend a maximum of two minutes writing the call reports so that we are able to get on to the next call as quickly as possible (but there is talk they are reducing that to one minute). I’m already dreading it!! Anyway, we finished early yesterday and went to the pub.

Next week we are going to be in a more intensive training mode, where we will be in Customer Services responding to tickets. Later in the week I think we will be taking actual calls. Then us Tech Support newbies will be having a further two weeks of training on the more technical parts of our roles. I’ll see how things go following the training. I suppose it’s all very different to what I’ve been used to in previous jobs, but I may end up liking it. The rest of my group (apart from being a lot younger than me) all seem to have had call centre experience before, and are in agreement that the targets and other requirements are a lot better than their previous jobs, and it’s more money and fewer hours than they had before, too, so they are not at all concerned. I keep wondering if they take on large groups such as ours on a regular basis because they have a rapid turnover of people leaving who are not able to cope with the strict regime and targets. Apparently, if you are too long on a call, or too long writing up, the team manager will call across the room to you to get a move on, in front of all your colleagues. This is supposed to encourage you to do better! As I say, I will complete the training and see how my first few weeks go. I might just end up enjoying it, as long as I am able to achieve the targets.

I’m also wondering how I can manage to continue with my photography business, if I’m working odd shift patterns. One possibility is that I will be working a pattern of two early shifts, two late shifts, then two days off. This means that I will only get one weekend in six off, with a couple of weekends where I will be working either just the Saturday or just the Sunday. The alternative, which I’m not sure many people get, is to work four longer shifts on weekdays, and you get one day off in the week and every weekend off. This is not exactly ideal either, as I don’t know if you get the same weekday off, or whether it can be any weekday. This could prevent me from going to camera club, but that’s not too much of a hardship, I suppose, although I do enjoy going.

The reason I am a little concerned about my shifts is that I have just had a photo session booking via my website for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration, which is on a Saturday in September. This is not a problem at the moment, as I think I am only working Mon-Fri up to the date of this session, but I also had an enquiry regarding a photo session to have some formal images taken for job applications. I’m not sure when this person is wanting this session as she hasn’t replied to my message. but as most photographic jobs are likely to be on a Saturday, it is a bit of a problem if I can only accept those that fall on the two Saturdays in six that I will get off if I am assigned to the first shift option. Again, it will be a matter of seeing how the job and the business progress, and whether they can exist side-by-side. I don’t want to keep requesting time off in order to do photographic work as that will not go down too well, I suspect.

We’ve been into Sheffield today to do some shopping and to investigate parking near to work. We do get discounted parking in the car park below the offices, but it’s still £3 per day. We did find some free on-street parking about 10 minutes walk away, but it depends how soon it gets filled up in a morning. Nearby was a car park offering all-day parking for £2, so that would save a little. One bonus is that I don’t have to pay for lunch, as the staff canteen has a free section where you can get bread, sandwich fillings, jacket potatoes, chips and salads, as well as a regular menu at only £2.

Not sure what we’ll do tomorrow, but I would like to get out and about with my camera. I think we need to go somewhere, as we’ve not been out for some time, apart from the meeting with Pete. I need to get some new photos and get some proper exercise and fresh air. The east coast is looking promising, so we may head there for a change.



  1. am I allowed to mention that despite the weather I took lots of photo?

    you’ll cope! and you can still look for something else whilst being paid

  2. I’m sure you’ll do fine Digi… and manage to fit everything in.. Perhaps once you get your feed under the table (in terms of the job) you’ll be able to have more flexibility in your shifts?

    And you never know, the bookings may take off so you can “give up the day job” as it were… 😉

    Hope you managed to get out with the camera; I haven’t been out for days and am feeling very twitchy!!! 😦

  3. Wow, sounds like you’ve been busy! Good luck with the new job!

  4. At least its regular money!

    I still think you are a better photographer than you beleive!

    Try to fit in the photography commissions.

    You will be okay!

    I am rooting for you!

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