One of the things I encounter on almost a daily basis is when I call a customer, and they assume I'm from the call center. They assume I'm sitting in an office somewhere, behind some screen that's telling me who to call and following some sort of prompt as to what to say.
I constantly have people say things like, "Where's the technician? They told me he would be here at "x:yz" time and he's not here yet.", to which I respond by stating that I am the technician and I'm on my way. Some people still don't understand, and I have even been YELLED at by customers over the phone. Sometimes during these calls the customer just zones out. I will state that I'm on my way, and I will still get responses like, "Oh is he here? I don't see him outside." I constantly wonder how these calls get so misconstrued when I've barely spoken more than two sentences to this person. Do they assume they already know what I'm going to say and therefore feel they have no necessity to pay attention?
The best ones are when a customer will start yelling and screaming at me over the phone, because they assume I'm just another call center jockey sitting behind a desk. When I'm finally able to explain to the customer (well not just explain but actually get them to comprehend which is an even bigger challenge) that I, this person they are conversing with AT THIS VERY MOMENT, is the person who will be at their place of residence in less than 30 minutes, you'd be amazed at how quickly their attitude and demeanor changes. People have absolutely NO SHAME about yelling and sometimes even berating people whom they've never met during a phone call. They take their anger out on the person on the other end of the line, because in their minds, it's someone they have never met and will never meet. To them, that call center person is just a faceless voice, no different than if they were to scream at a recording. But when they realize that they are talking to the person who very shortly will be in their presence, and in their HOME, their behavior does a complete 180. Once I'm at their place, they apologize profusely and sometimes they seem to not know how to act around me. I've even had one guy literally say to me, "I'm sorry I yelled at you, I didn't know you were the technician." - as though it would've been okay for him to yell at me if I wasn't? Seriously?!?!
The misconception of the technician being male is so ingrained in our society. It's evident to me on a daily basis simply by these false assumptions made by the customers. I do think gender plays a big part in it. They hear my voice, recognize that I am female, and that connection between "female" and "technician" just doesn't exist in their mind. This is one of the things that really intrigues me the most, because it's really the most challenging of all - how do us females gain ACCEPTANCE in a male dominated industry? Not just with our coworkers, company or industry - but with the customers as well?