On average, phones in the Human Resources Call Center ring about 20,000 times a year—or seventy-seven times a day—and callers frequently have questions about benefits, retirement, policies, and employment.
Dan Trentham leads the center, and chances are he’ll be the one who answers when you call.
Following are parts of a discussion with Dan to see what it’s like to work in the HR Call Center.
Q: Does having your phone ring an average of seventy-seven times a day drive you crazy?
A: To be honest, it can be maddening some days! An hour can go by without a call and then, all of a sudden, Michelle Whited and I will both be on our lines and each have people on hold. Then, the minute we hang up, the line will ring again! There certainly are days when it’s overwhelming, but we take them one at a time and message for help from the eight on-call HR staff.
Q: How exactly does the system work?
A: It’s a computer-based system that integrates with the phones and funnels incoming calls based on our availability. We log in every morning and update our status when we need to step away. We can see how many calls are coming in, who’s available to help and how many callers are on hold. It’s magic.
Q: You’re able to take care of 84 percent of caller questions on the spot. How can you possibly have answers for everything?
A: Actually, most of the calls are pretty simple. But I’ve worked at UT for thirty-three years. Most of that time has been in HR and specifically, in benefits and retirement. Michelle has been in HR for twenty-five years. There’s no manual, but we do look things up a lot. I never can remember how many days you get for bereavement leave for, say, an uncle.
Q: What’s the funniest thing someone has asked you?
A: Two little old ladies called one day—I pictured the Walton sisters. They were looking for a professor’s address. They had received a package by mistake but only had his name. I searched the online directory. I searched IRIS. I asked about a department. But I couldn’t find him.
The more we talked, I found out they’d opened the package! I really wanted to ask what was in it, but I didn’t. It’s still the funniest thing that’s happened.