Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Poor Planning on Your Part…

When the Playstation 3 was about to be released, the game retailer I worked for began ramping up its customer service training classes so that we, the phone warriors, would be better equipped to handle the influx of calls for orders. For weeks on end, we would attend the classes in the hopes that we would be able to deal with practically anything.

The night before the release, we had a “briefing” in the call center. Our bosses told us that we were going to be expecting a “reasonably high” call volume and that we were to be on our toes for the remainder of the day. The PS3 would go online at nine o’clock in the morning and we would be steady all day. They were fairly certain that we were
going to be all right.

“You’re aware that this system is highly sought after,” I said to my supervisor in a sidebar. “We’re going to be crushed.”

“We’ll be fine,” he assured me. “There’s more than enough units in the warehouse to cover.”

Everyone was under the impression that we were ready. We weren’t…

As soon as the PS3 went online, the call center exploded. Our entire inventory, however many thousands of units it was, was gone in approximately 45 seconds. For the next four hours, we fielded nothing but calls with the same theme: “I had it in my cart and now it’s gone!”

The call queue was in the hundreds. We couldn’t field them all. After four hours, we shut the queue and the call center down. When the dust settled, five managers lost their jobs, as well as several phone warriors. I was among them.

No one in the marketing department had been following the trends online. We weren’t even close to prepared.