I’ve been working in a contact center for 3 years in total now. When I was still receiving calls, it is inevitable to encounter an irate caller. Some customers are upset because the product or service of the company that we represent isn’t what they expected or less than what they expected. These irate customers are what we call in a call center lingo as “difficult customers”. It’s really difficult because these are the kind of customers who no matter how much you explain the issue, they refuse to listen, or no matter how good the resolution you are offering, they refuse to accept. How to get out on that situation is never found in product FAQ’s or in the scripts provided to you. Most of the time, it will depend on how you can humanize the situation. That was the time I learned to treat every situation and every customer as unique.
I once worked in a contact center where customer feedback is considered to be a very important metric you as an agent needs to pass. Sometimes, customer will give you a negative feedback just because they stayed on the queue for several minutes. Though it’s not your fault as an agent because on the first place you don’t have control on the call volume and you have no idea how many agents are there to answer those calls, it will still be taken against you. I remember one funny incident where I totally got out from what we call standard. I was receiving calls for a technical account and the customer is very upset because he is not getting the service he subscribed to and he was even more upset because he hates our hold music. According to my customer, our hold music is annoying him even more. Since it was a technical account, I need to put him on hold again to search for more information about his concern and how to resolve it, and the worse part is he needs to listen to the hold music again. I know it will make the customer annoyed even more so I asked him, “sir what’s your favorite song?” I think that customer was already soaked with all his frustration, never bothered why I need to know his favorite song and just provided the information to me. I told him, “I really apologize but I need to put you on hold to research more about your concern. Please stay on the line.” And I started singing his favorite song. The customer in a confused tone ask me what exactly I was doing. I just answered him, “Sir I know your frustrated already and our hold music is making you even more upset. I am singing your favorite song now so at least you don’t have to listen to our hold music anymore. I admit I’m not a good singer but I’m trying really my best. I hope this will still be your favorite song after this call.” I heard the customer laughed really hard on the other line that I think he almost forgot why he was calling. The call ended well, I was able to resolve his concern and he was very happy, keeps on saying that he never encountered a representative as smart as I am before. I wasn’t really smart, I just followed the basic troubleshooting steps but I think he is referring to my unique way of handling the call. I didn’t actually realized what I was doing that time, I just run out of choices. My quality specialist monitored that call and gave me a low score, even warned me to never do it again because it wasn’t a standard procedure. But thankfully my stats are saved because my customer gave me 100% on customer feedback and gave me a kudos.
I’m not saying that we should always do the most taboo things just to please our customers. The point is we need to learn when to engage, know when to go out from the script, and acknowledge the feelings of the people we talk to. Treat each customer as unique and remember that they are not just voices on the other line. That they are human beings who just needs to be treated as one.
Luckily, our contact center recently changed the software we are using to a cloud based software who is a lot more up-to-date than the previous software. It has a user friendly dashboard, gives the real time data of the call flow, who are the agents available to receive calls, and who are the agents who are staying on a long call already. This software improved our data management and allowed our leaders on the floor to closely predict when to delegate more agents based from the call flow history. It also allowed us to closely monitor our agents, especially those who are not passing their metrics, identify the causes, and coached them immediately as soon as the call flow permits. The new cloud based software we are using allowed us to see even the most little things that we are missing before.
As I’ve said before, our service is not perfect, but it doesn’t mean we will quit on trying to be better. After all, your customers would not care how techie you are or what college degree you are holding as soon as they know how much you care and how willing you are to assist them.