And Then The Phone Rang…

We're sparing you the discomfort of having to look at us for 20 minutes on a Google+  Hangout!

We’re sparing you the discomfort of having to look at us for 20 minutes on a Google+ Hangout!

If you are new to CommunicateBetterBlog, one of our favorite things to do is to write discussion or collaboration posts.  In these posts we dialog back and forth about an issue.  We think anyone in customer service will immediately identify with our post today.  Please enjoy and share your thoughts!  Based on the image above, we think you will be happy you’re reading this post instead of watching us on a hangout.

Jeremy- Ahoy Jenny.  In customer service it’s so easy to start a day with well intentioned plans.  The goal is to be balanced.  One might aim to do support tickets for an hour, call a few customers back, take all of their breaks, write an inspiring blog post, and finally head home exactly 8.5 hours later.  That is until the phone rings with the latest crisis, or you uncover a big bug in the system, or something goes down, or sales closes a HUGE deal and the ball lands in your court to make make it a success.  Does this strike a chord with you?

Jenny- Let me get my guitar and strum some chords for you–yes, yes it does! You really have to work hard at prioritizing what you have on your plate to make sure you can help everyone. I become very flustered when this happens–I manage to get everything done but I feel like a frazzled wreck at the end of the day and I look like I stuck my finger in a light socket (see image above). Do you struggle with this too, Jeremy!

Jeremy- Boy do I ever, Jenny.  I hate that feeling of getting that unexpected phone call and then watching meetings and other obligations fly by as I deal with the current emergency.  I think we could both tell story after story about this.  I have a couple thoughts, and keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who is fairly adaptable.  In customer service, this truly is the nature of the beast.  You are there to be interrupted!  Customer service should be approached with a sense of adventure because people are an adventure.  Also, keep in mind that tomorrow is a new day.  Try your plan all over the next day!  What do you think Jenny?  Is that a sustainable approach?

Jenny- Yeah, it definitely is the nature of the beast–we knew what we signed up for! I do think it is sustainable so long as it is done properly. Obviously, frying your brains isn’t going to help anyone in the long run–yourself included! I’ve learned that you have to be realistic and dropping everything for some situations isn’t always the best action to take. I have to think fast and prioritize. I try to ask myself these three questions:

  1. Is the service 100% out of order?
  2. Is this affecting many people?
  3. Is there anything else that can be done in the meantime to put a band-aid on the situation before you can get to it?

If the answer to 1 is “Yes”, then it’s a drop everything sort of situation. If the answer to 1 is “No” but 2 is “Yes”, then it’s another drop everything sorta situation. If the answer to 3 is “Yes”, then I feel the pressure lifting and know I can help soothe the customer’s frazzled nerves temporarily while I work on other large issues that may be 100% out of service. It’s the days when we get more than one drop everything sort of situation that are the hardest to figure out. Do you have a system in place that you try to run when you’re in this situation?

Jeremy- I hide as long as I possibly can.  Just kidding.  I’m actually pretty quick to get sidetracked when these situations arise and think your system is fantastic, Jenny.  Ultimately, my aim is to stay positive and remember that interruptions are a part of the job.  Furthermore, as customer service leaders, there is no better time than in the emergencies to show our teams that we have their back!

Hey reader, if you identify with this situation, we’d love to hear how you handle the interruptions!

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  • When faced with a crisis or service outage, the first thing I do is NOT PANIC, because I know it will only be temporary. Priority must go to the customer. Have a plan for how to handle each and every customer you possibly can, be empathetic and relatable and respond quickly and honestly.

    IF however you are just dealing with an interruption, it is critical that you stay on task, handle the interruption or problem quickly and without delay get back on task.

    Overall, keep in mind you are dealing with PEOPLE, so be personal, polite and pleasing in your tone and action. Now is NOT the time to be part of the proble. Now is the time to be part of the solution.


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