Sunday, March 18, 2007

Inside a Comic Relief Call Centre

On Friday night the BBC's annual Comic Relief fundraising event came to its climax, in it's now familiar night of comedy television.

As ever the event made for an excellent night of telly whilst raising money for charities throughout the UK and 3rd World - for those of you who don't know where the money goes or would like to know more you can find out more here

At the time of writing this post Comic Relief 2007, AKA "The Big One" has raised £40,236,142.00 for charity, and the number continues to climb as more people live up to pledges made, late donations come in and money from countrywide events held during the night is added up

If you haven't yet donated and want the warm cuddly feeling you only get from helping your fellow man - warm cuddly feelings are available by donating here

Alternatively if you want something for your charity money you could always buy the official DVD from Amazon (including Tony Blair's comedy sketch) - all Amazon's proceeds go to comic relief (if you buy from the ad on the right as far as I am aware I get no referral money, but if I do you have my word it will be donated to Comic Relief too)

On Friday night ES had the pleasure of working inside a call centre collecting donations from people ringing in. The company I work for and several others around the country had staffed up their 9-5 call centres, and sat ready to take calls coming from all over the UK

After a quick induction on what to say, how to say it, working the very simple web based form, and where to divert callers ringing the donations line for other reasons, we sat down and waited for the calls. If this sounds very informal - remember most of the people were seasoned call centre staff and are used to this type of thing, I spent 5 years working on a technical support line, and apart from the fact that the people ringing weren't hurling abuse, its all very similar (we also had loads of support people behind us ready to help with problems)

Lines opened at 1800

1830 - Still waiting

1845 - First call!

From then on calls came in fairly regularly but it wasn't until 2100 that they started to come in immediately one after the other - the amusing bit for us was the fact that you could tell which bits of the program were most popular by the gaps between calls. There were massive gaps when Tony Blair was on telly (it definitely looked funny but we had the volume down unfortunately)

In the periods where Lenny Henry or the others were doing documentaries the phones went mental - hopefully that just shows you care, or perhaps its because you found these bits boring - who cares? you called!

What always amazes me is the frequency that people ring in donating £100 or more - amounts that I found staggering sometimes. Don't get me wrong - I took loads of calls for £1, £5, £10 etc and every single penny really does help, but you really got the feeling that everyone was donating as much as they could afford rather than the bare minimum

Anyway - thanks to everyone who called in especially those who had a laugh - we didn't get to watch the telly but you provided the entertainment just fine

To the drunk guy who rang in complaining at Tara whosherface winning the Comic Relief celebrity Pop Idol, I couldn't agree more - she was crap and Barry From EastEnders deserved to win way more!

PS - If you spent ages in a call queue waiting to donate, my advice for next year is ring before 2100 - before 1900 if you can, you'll get through straight away and that's it - you can relax for the rest of the evening (oh and have your card ready in your hand - you'd be amazed how many people rang in to donate but then had to go hunting!)