General discussion


Dealing with upset users

By mmyerspa ·
Do you have a formal method of handling users that are consistently out of control (screaming, demeaning, disrespectful)? Should the technician or help desk analyst politely refuse service until the customer calms down? How do we tactfully avoid dealing with their situations immediately after they become upset (which just makes them continue acting this way)? What kind of formal process should be in place to deal with / report these users?

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Escalate the problem away

by road-dog In reply to Dealing with upset users

If the (L)user is abusive, simply escalate their problem to your supervisor. If they treat your boss in the same way they treat line personnel, then disciplinary action may be in order. Speak with your Manager, and have a plan ready for when it happens again. Perhaps he might arrange to have HR listen in on the line. Internal phone calls within a company do not have the same privacy protections as outside the company. Even then, an announcement "calls may be recorded to assure good customer service" should justify it.

There is no reason why customer service people should have to deal with a**holes in an already stressful position.

Have a plan....

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No simple sollution

by TheChas In reply to Dealing with upset users

You need to attempt to determine why the user is upset before taking a course of action.

Are they working on a deadline, or under preasure from their supervisor.
If so, you are just the person they can take out their frustration on.
Most users in this situation will appolagize later.

Have they called about the same problem numerous times?
If so, they may feel that IT is incompetent, and feel justified in taking out their rage on the poor tech.

The 3rd catagory is the abusive personality who gets mad at everyonme all the time.
There is no good way to work with them.

I suggest some company "training" that introduces the IT staff as "human beings" that need to be treated with respect if you want efficient support.


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Verbal De-Escalation

by admin In reply to Dealing with upset users

Although I don't have a link handy, classes in De-Escalation can do wonders. If you were in the Idaho area, I could probably hook you up with these. Verbal De-Escalation, Active Listening, and training in Re-Direction will get the skills you want ontrack and get customer satisfaction up as a bonus. Your HR department may have resources, or check with local law enforcement and psychiatric hospitals for local speakers\trainers on this. It really works and it's pretty easy to learn the basic principles in a session or two.

It's odd that more tech programs don't make these "soft" skills mandatory training. In most jobs they are much more useful and will get you and your program ahead a lot faster than many of the software specific skills that come and go. I would really suggest you get at least one of your staff to one of these trainings and have them come back with what they learned and teach all of you if you can't afford a speaker coming in.

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More Specifics

by admin In reply to Verbal De-Escalation

OK. This is better in a class, but here's the idea:

Our goal is not to repress or stop emptional feelings in others or ourselves but to accept and listen and help channel and dirrect them to constructive outcomes. To do this we must first learn to seperate the PERSON from the PROBLEM. We also need to then become an seperate ourselves from the PROBLEM and become an ALLY to the PERSON in dealing with the PROBLEM. (There are some good exercises for this.)

Now that the problem (Screaming, disrespect may be the first problems to get past with the PERSON) is identified in the seperation from the person we can learn about a very predictable process all humans go through, the crisis cycle. Here it is:

<see next post>

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The Crisis Cycle 1-2

by admin In reply to More Specifics

1. STIMULATION. Something happened to make the customer feel uncomfortable or distressed. For instance, their printer doesn't work. The best thing is if they call at this stage. They often don't.

2. ESCALATION. Increased discomfort. Yelling. Outbursts. Lack of Respect etc. At this point they have added more than just the fact it's broken, such as: Their report is late, they may get fired. They will go home late and their kid is getting out of school and they have no childcare etc. You need to listen to this, seperate it with them from the printer issue, and let them know you REALLY empathize with them, but that you can really just help with the printer. Hold this boundry, but be helpful and polite. Remember, none of this is a personal attack, even if it sounds like it. Seperate it from the person. Let the person know that it is counterproductive for both of you to work on anything other than the printer problem and that you would be glad to do that or glad to take the call at a later time when they work out childcare, their report deadline etc. if they are fixated on this. Let them make the choice. you are trying here to let tham talk (or yell) until they are finished. Don't interupt. Leave a pause and then they will usually re-gain control and work with you on the printer. Believe it or not, this allows for the SHORTEST call times. Interupting them only will lengthen the call time.

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Crisis Cycle 3-4

by admin In reply to More Specifics

3. CRISIS. This is where they lose control. Their reasoning skills are not working anymore. It is usually obvious because they are obviously not even interested in fixing the printer at this point. Basically, de-escalate yourself if needed, grab your cup of Joe and sit back and think about somting else until they are done. When they are done, in your calmest voice see if they are ready to start: " How can I help you?" ( and don't try to fix or help with anything here, it will only likely restart their Crisis). They will ask for help on their problem when they are ready. You just have to let them calm down and get it all out here, so learn to see it as a little coffee break for you, but be polite. Shortest call times are when you let them get it out. You will be fought with unreasonably if you try to do much else, lengthening the call time if you try to reason with them here.

4. DE-ESCALATION. This is when they stop "Blowing Up" and being unreasonable and their has been a few seconds of silence. Here you want to provide "Structured Cooling Off" DON"T TRY TO SOLVE EVERYTHING HERE! What you want to deal with is emotions here, not fix the printer- yet. Otherwise you risk starting the cycle all over which is a big waste of time. So, be non-judgmental. Do not express displeasure or seek an apology here (You'l'l probably get this later). Simply tell them that you understand and are ready to try and help them fix their printer. Don't use lengthy explainations. Let them regain control. Keep re-directing them to the problem you can help with or asking them "How can I help you?" if you don't know what it is still. Let them be in the drivers seat, but offer them a road to drive down.

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Crisis Cycle 5-6

by admin In reply to More Specifics

STABILIZATION. They are reasonable again.They are usually emotionally somewhat drained and possibly tired. They are usually willing to follow your instructions 100% here and will go through the process rapidly as much as they are able. To them, the fight is now over and they are in a good state to be led. Emotionally, this can actually be a better time to provide step-by step support, because they are usually done fighting rather than having many little fights along the way. If they are trying to pick little fights still, just continue to re-direct them to the solution and keep your boundaries. If they go back into escalation, just listen and let them agin, trying to talk them out of it will only make it worse. Just follow them and act appropriate to where they are in the cycle. It actually can be fun when you are in control.

6. POST CRISIS. For tech support purposes, this is where they got it fixed, or at least got to the next step and are usually drained emotionally and tired. Time for us to read our goodbye script here and let them go rest :) Oftentimes an apology from them comes here, but don't expect it or try to go over how to get it fixed quicker next time by being reasonable. We just want to shorten call time here and get it done. Focus on your goals in your job and grab the next line. After you gain control and understanding practicing this process, you'll actually look forward to these calls as much as a fisherman loves to catch a big fish. :)

Anyway, a classis better, but I've already filled this post way to much. Hope it helps!


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by RDSchaefer In reply to More Specifics

I'm sorry, but I simply can't agree with you on this. It doesn't matter WHAT their day or work or job is like, there is NO justification for that kind of behaviour! I had a standing policy - When someone started acting that way, I quietly but firmly told them that I would be happy to come back to fix their problem when they have calmed down and then WALKED AWAY straight to my manager.


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Disagreement is GOOD!

by admin In reply to B***S***

Thank You! :) We need some healthy disagreement here. I never knew 2 admins to have exactly the same opinion or way of making it work.... :)

It sounds like you had a good boundry (quiet but firm) and did not dismiss their person or their computer problem, just their behavior and then you gave them options (coming back when they calmed down etc.)and the choice was theirs. To me that sounds like a really good way of dealing with it.

I also liked Lord Infidels route, I just put a happy face on it, which seems to be even more infernal at times. Any path that does not reinforce the undesired behavior is good IMO though.

Thanks again! :)

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Formal Process

by admin In reply to Verbal De-Escalation

Tracking all calls.
The amount of time disproportionally spent on a few consistantly angry users that have trouble operating their workstations may show that additional user training from your department would come out ahead in a cost benefit analysis.

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