The 9 Dreaded Words Of Any Customer Service Director
The 9 dreaded words of any customer service director are “Let me speak with the head of customer service.” A while back I wrote a post titled The 6 Dreaded Words Of Any Contact Center Agent: “Let Me Speak With Your Supervisor.” Little did I know I would have a second part to that post one day. Late last week I was either in the middle of a meeting, pouring over a spreadsheet or perhaps putting the finishing touches on a blog post when I was interrupted by one of our customer service representatives. The dialog went something like this:
CSR: “I have a customer that wants to speak with you.”
Me: “I’m busy. Is one of our fine supervisors available?”
CSR: “They don’t want to speak with a supervisor. They want to speak with the head of customer service….and P.S. this dude is pissed off.”
Me: “Ok give me a second to dust off my phone.”
It might not have gone exactly like that but leave it to a customer to interrupt my perfect routine. Believe it or not, this actually happened twice last week. Let me give you a step by step of how these calls went.
Step 1– Take a really deep breath.
Step 2– Put on my best game face. Note that the game face should include a smile. I have to be at my very best. After all, my team is listening and they know I write a blog about awesome customer service.
Step 3– Nod to the CSR to send the call over.
Step 4– Answer the call with a deep, confident tone of voice. (Inside there’s a little boy saying “Please don’t yell at me.”)
Step 5– Wade through an initial barrage of insults and expletives knowing they are directed at the situation and not at me. Refuse to be offended! Deep breaths and a calm, reassuring tone of voice really help keep the blood pressure down.
Step 6– Show as much empathy as humanly possible for the situation we find ourselves in and work to make logical sense of it all. Seek to find understanding and move toward action items and compensation as needed. The focus is on restoring the relationship with the customer and building a bridge that leads to loyalty.
It was at this point where the calls diverged.
Caller number one proceeded to give me his credentials as a developer and business owner which effectively put my measly 13 years in customer service to shame. The only way he would be happy is if he spoke with someone who signed the paychecks. Rather than fight it, I said I would see what I could do. Fortunately, the people I work for hate losing customers with a passion. Our CTO called him back, had a nice discussion with him and opened ongoing lines of communication.
Caller number two eventually cooled down and on his own admitted where he might have dropped the ball. I didn’t accuse him of anything either! We worked together on a resolution and I made myself available for follow up any time he needed it. The reason he escalated to me in the first place was that he hit our front line support with such an attack that the phone virtually exploded. Sometimes time to simmer down and a supervisor are indeed the best remedy. Oh and I did follow up with a handwritten note of appreciation to this customer.
Here are my take aways from these two escalated calls:
1. No one is too important or too high-ranking in any organization to speak with customers.
2. If you’re going to work in customer service, work for someone who hates losing customers.
3. The moment you let yourself get offended, you lose.
4. In customer service, interruptions are part of the job. Learn to embrace them.
5. If you start a customer service blog, just know that from henceforth you are accountable for everything you write about.