Okay, that sounds like a non sequitur, right? We’ve all had those (alleged) customer service calls that are the grist for urban legend mills and comedic routines. The interminable hold; the obnoxious music assaulting the otic nerve; the rep who treats you like (1) an idiot, (2) a deadbeat, (3) an imposition on their nap time, (4) other; and the unresolved issue that requires you to move to the next level of support (where actual competent people may reside) so that you get to repeat the traumatic experiences you have just endured. By the end of one of these bouts of frustration it’s amazing that more of us don’t down a couple of quarts of Jack Daniels and declare open season on call center employees.
But you know what? It’s not always like that. We’ve recently had several encounters with customer service reps actually delivered … well … customer service. And not only do they try their hardest to help resolve the issue, but they do it with humanity and compassion. Not the empty –
CALL CENTER MANUAL, SCRIPT, ANGRY CUSTOMER, LINE 32: Apologize to the customer for the interruption of his/her/their service. (attempt to sound sincere here – we know you’re getting minimum wage with bathroom breaks only before and after your 8 hour shift [which includes two hours of unpaid overtime because you want to keep your job and we have a ready supply of willing cattle to replace you], but hey, these are our customers. We took their money for a crappy product or poor service but we want you to show that we really do care so, sound sincere, okay? We’re watching and listening, so make it good)
kind of apology but real compassion and understanding.
These are the kind of people who should be doing the tough jobs like interacting with the public, providing technical support, and yes – even collecting bills.
My old Polish grandmother used to say that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Know what? The old girl was right. So, what do we do to cultivate more of these kinds of humane and helpful employees and help the rude, obnoxious, horrid ones go the way of the Dodo?
Our answer is positive feedback after your interaction. Not just to the employee; but to their bosses.
Take five minutes out of your day. Well, five more minutes. Ask for their supervisor’s name and a way to contact them. Sometimes they will put the supervisor on the phone but more frequently they can provide you with an email address. So, once you have that (and remember, your day is already interrupted by this issue that someone has courteously and efficiently resolved for you) take the extra few minutes to praise good behavior to ‘the powers that be’.
We like to include the following points in our feedback but you should customize your response to fit your situation and personality.
- How much we appreciated the courteous and caring service
- A brief summary of the issue and any high points of how the rep handled it
- A request that your email or letter be included in the employee’s personnel file (at raise time or promotion time, we want to see this cream rise to the top)
- A request that the letter be read at the next ‘all hands’, team, or section meeting so that workers are incentivized (I hate that word but it seems to fit. Please pardon its use.) to emulate the desired behavior
- How the rep is a credit to the enlightened management style of the organization and the supervisor
- Include a belief that they are more effective than the ‘beat them down and abuse them’ kind of employee
In summation, we’d like to suggest that, when we all find good works, we should praise them. Who knows? Maybe a little kindness and appreciation reflected back can only have a positive effect. As romance writers, we believe in that kind of thing. Try it. Maybe it’ll work for you too.