CXO

Tales from the Desktop: Customer care is a two-way street

Everyone answering the Help desk phone has received a call from a user whom you wouldn't send to your worst enemy. Jeff Dray explains a situation in which he encountered an "interesting" end user, and how he went about solving his problem.


Have you ever noticed how some customers are easier to deal with than others? Although you may not discern any difference in the way you handle them, Caller One can get you wound up and frustrated while Caller Two chats easily and listens to what you say, allowing you to get through the call feeling much happier and with far better results.

Work with me here, people!
I recently had to deal with an annoying, whining person. Despite my best efforts, he argued with every suggestion I made. I found myself getting cross with him. He had made comments like: “I’m an IT consultant so you’d better not try to fob me off!”

As with any support call, I had asked some questions to attempt to find out what the set up was. Each question was countered with: “Why the heck are you asking me this? This has nothing to do with this software!” I would then explain the significance of the question. However, if the guy were really an IT professional, he would have known why I asked such questions, and he would not have called us in the first place.

After several minutes of his badgering, I confronted him. I snapped and said: “If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, why did you bother calling?” He was suitably taken aback and started to bluster about the stress I was causing him and how he would sue the company.

I felt it was time to take a firm hand: “While I am doing my best to support you, I do need some practical input from your side. I can’t see what you are doing, nor do I have time to waste on silly guessing games. I am more than happy to help, but you must cooperate as well. Do I continue or should I hang up and take the next call in the queue?”

He calmed down, listened, followed my instructions, and eventually we resolved the problem.

Time for another call
I was still fuming when the phone rang again. I took a deep breath and answered, wiping the previous caller from my mind. The second caller turned out to be a real treat to deal with. I listened to his problem, and in turn he listened to my solution. He followed my directions, and soon after we solved the problem. While talking with him as his computer re-booted, I found out that he was a trainer, specializing in customer care.

The lesson learned
I don’t claim that my customer care skills are the best, but I don’t believe that they are bad either. Even though they can be maverick on occasions, I get the job done. I like to impress on callers that they are dealing with a real person. Some find this to be a great thing, while others are uncomfortable with the thought. It boils down to this—you only get out of a support line what you are prepared to put into it, and being difficult is a sure way to hinder the process of getting your problem solved.
How do you maintain your composure and professionalism when faced with a user in need who is less than a joy to deal with? How do you defuse this type of situation? We’d like to know. Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox