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  • #2258736

    What do you do to talk a user/customer


    by zlitocook ·

    Down from being irate or distrusting the help desk or you being the live person?
    You get to the user who just spent an hour on the phone with the help desk. They are mad and want to do bad things to the computer or you. So what do you do to get the person in a better mood if it is possible?
    I look at each job/user as a new possibility and try to learn from each one.
    There is always the one person who can not be helped but I still try to make my visit a good one. And hopefully leave a good impression of IT with them.

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  • Author
    • #3215719

      don’t frown, shout or swear – remain calm polite

      by deadly ernest ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      speak clearly and make a point of saying things like “I’m her to help”, “How may I help you” “What can I do” make lots of I and ME statements.

      This helps to disassociate you from their current anger. Once they calm down try to tactfully find out the cause of their anger and see if you can defuse it.

      Above all don’t promise anything that you can not deliver on.

      • #3213652

        First Things First…

        by sloan ·

        In reply to don’t frown, shout or swear – remain calm polite

        Earnest is right — to calm the user down, listen. Not just to the first part of their first sentence, but to everything they are saying. If they go into a tirade about the “crappy” support, let them, then tell them that you are sorry for their experience, and “let’s see if we can find the right solution this time.

        When you listen to just a part of their problem description, and assume a solution, you will only make them more angry/upset. Be sure to give verbal feedback to show that you have listened to all of what they are saying, and understand the problem as they described it. If they correct parts of your description, be sure to acknowlege that too.

        In a former position, I dealt only with the users who were angry. They had already been through levels 1 and 2 of tech support, or had called a regional or district manager after getting the run-around at a store.

        I found that if you defused the source of their anger – usually caused by people not listening to them – you could then move on to solve the problem. It’s important to remember that when you get a call like this, that you now have two problems to solve, and the first one is whatever caused the user’s frustration with the help desk or tech support. Their technical problem comes second. If you do not address the source of their anger, you have no hope of solving their tech problem.

        • #3213481

          Right on Sloan

          by blueknight ·

          In reply to First Things First…

          You hit the nail on the head. In the rush to keep up with problems, many IT workers listen to the first part of a user’s problem description, then assume the rest of the story follows the other 127 similar calls for service — but this one is different.

          When you encounter an irate customer/user, follow the old Proverb: “Agree with thy adversary quickly.” (Even if you don’t believe “your people” were wrong).

          This generally serves to calm the irate person down to the point where they can see you are trying to help them, and they become much more reasonable. Continue with being courteous and polite, and work the problem out.

          I have found that using this approach always brings the irate person back to a rashional attitude, and frequently, they will recognize that they made the error that caused the problem, without my having to say anything other than to ask questions relative to solving their problem. Make suggestions for avoiding the same problem in the future, but NEVER accuse them of causing the problem.

          If your shop operates on a chargeback system like ours, you need those customers, so it’s in your best interest to foster good relations.

        • #3213369

          Try this….. Transactional Analysis

          by ishango ·

          In reply to First Things First…

          Transactional analysis talks about parent,child and adult states of mind and while one side of a conversation is not in the Adult (Information sharing) mode no progress can be made.

          Easiest wqy to take the wind out of their sails is to use a line like….” What have we done this time”

          It means you are not going to play their game i.e. argue, you are hinting that there may be fault on your side of the transaction and you are asking for information. Once they move to the adult state and start giving information then you can work out the problem and answer.

          I’ve used these techniques in many fiercly confrontative face to face situations and it has never failed. Works on the phone too but requires some care with the style of language.

        • #3213082

          Don’t be scared to admit a fault …

          by taramouse01 ·

          In reply to Try this….. Transactional Analysis

          Often my customers just want confirmation that the fault lies with our company/technology/docs rather than telling them they are doing something wrong.

          Often if you say “We may not have documented this clearly enough, but you need to do this…” gets a better response than, “You are doing that wrong, you need to do this…”

          Also be polite, listen and let them have a blast at you, don’t take it personally and try to make them laugh before they leave. If you can’t fix someone, try and find out whats wrong and ring them back.

        • #3231878

          Customer Service/Conflict Resolution

          by intensemind ·

          In reply to First Things First…

          Well put. Everyone will have an opinion or strategy here. The fact remains that every employee is serving someone else at some point in time and every employee should get training in service and resolution. Employee to employee conflicts should be resolved more quickly if you have this training embedded.

          For external customers however the problem can be more tense even abusive. I like to put some structure to things so that I can remember the steps necessary to deal with extreme situations and I just found a nice site that does so in an easy to follow summary. See – this can be a start to remembering what you need to do in these situation; if you never had the training.

          Good job all…


      • #3213796

        Good Advice (but IMO not quite enough)

        by artful ·

        In reply to don’t frown, shout or swear – remain calm polite

        The hardest lesson to learn — I’ve been in the business for 24 years — is that you MUST fire your worst clients.

        Everything you wrote is correct. I have no dispute with any of it. But IME the real world intrudes upon the best laid plans. (If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans.)

        Back to Firing Your Worst Customers: applying the 80-20 rule, 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients, and conversely, 80% of your pointless labour is expended upon the worst 20% of your clients. Fire them! Go canoeing and camping. Remember the spouse you married and the kids you are raising. Waste not another moment on clients who deserve to be fired!

        Clue #1: “Why can’t you just move this over here and that over there? It seems easy enough.” Translation: Do it right now for free.

        Clue #2: “That’s not what I meant when I said Sales by State by Client. I meant that I should be able to choose the State and the Client, and select many states and clients, and the report should correspond. I mean, how hard is that?”

        Clue #3: “You’re a month late with the deliverables. I think we might be a month late with the cheque.”

        There are hundreds of bad clients out there, and the independent consultant who wishes to succeed must learn how to fire them.

        Arthur Fuller

    • #3215625

      Mostly listen

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Active listening includes asking questions of clairifcation and feeding back some of what they tell you to assure clarity. But the most important part is to listen to them without being defensive or judgemental. You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to make an effort to understand them and their perspective.


      • #3215456

        And Add

        by w2ktechman ·

        In reply to Mostly listen

        that you are looking into multiple possibilities and even if this has been asked/tried before, the outcome may not have been recorded properly, and it may be detrimental to solve the issue.

        I have had to use this several times, because I ask a user to try something, they say “I already did that”. Funny thing, 3 of 5 times it works….
        As long as you have their attention, it can help to diffuse. Not always, but the majority of bad callers have felt like the helpdesk wasnt helping, and in some cases, made it worse because they either didnt listen (assumed) or communication was not good in the first place. These people want to be heard, and want you to understand that they have a problem that needs resolution.
        Of course, there are also the spoiled A-holes out there as well, and they are a much different kind to work for/with. These people need to be handled by a manager if you cannot handle them yourself. If not, you can make the situation worse.

    • #3214419

      Pass along information

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      First find out why they are so irate. Some times they should be irate. Then you just agree with them, fix the problem or explain why it is out of your control. If they don’t have a good reason to be irate, then they probably just need a better understanding of how things work. (or why they don’t work)

      There will always be a few people that you can’t do anything with, but most people just need to know they arte not alone in their misery.

      • #3212963

        jdmercha has a good point…

        by vanessaj ·

        In reply to Pass along information

        I find that if people are red in the face and angry beyond reason – which happens sometimes – to “talk them down from the window sill”, agreeing with them works best most of the time. We are the Sys Admins for hundreds of clients – mostly attorneys – and you haven’t seen an angry person until you’ve seen a lawyer that just lost his time and billing information!!

        Reflecting his response in a more professional way works 99 our of 100 times for me. Saying something he said in a very low, calm tone like, “Wow, that really does suck. We’ve got to fix that for you.” always seems to work great. They don’t feel like they have to convince you of the enormity of their situation so they quit screaming AND they feel you are on their side and redirect their anger to the computer situation instead of at you. It seems to help.

        Other times, when someone is a little upset at a simiple issue, mentioning that it is a simple issue to fix and isn’t that bad and you should only take “such” amount of time to fix it, will diffuse a little anger/frustration.

        Good luck.

        Edited for grammer

        • #3213592

          But, what if their data isn’t retrievable ?

          by nacromancer ·

          In reply to jdmercha has a good point…

          Thats all good fine and dandy in the realm of complacency, composure, and carmel coated apples, but what after all that you come to find out they did not do a back up of their data and their data is totally unretrievable? I agree with most who suggest never commit yourself or say you can do something if you are not totally sure you can. ♠I have had IT Help Desk Tech’s who thought they were clever enough to delegate authority over issues and found themselves buried alive in false promises before to the point that legal action was taken against us because of false promises made.
          Bottom line if your going to offer to help, make darn sure you can, before you offer to.
          To handle the totaly irrate customer, pull out the IT weapon of choice and say, “…stand away from the computer…” and then go in and see what can be done. And never forget your most vital weapon against ignorance and bad advice, “…let me consult with one of my colleages who is a specialist in this area…” use the other IT’s minds, suggestions and resources to come to a conclusion before passing down the final judgement. You are not a walking computer, and there may be something even your perfect self has over looked, or not seen in the session. Never take a session personal. It is better to say “I do not know let me ask someone who is a specialist in that area,” than to offer more damaging advice.
          But if the customer is so stupid as to not have backed up their livelihood such as your situation suggests, then guess what….? You should never ever suggest to, or play the role of, being an IT God or Magician who can make it all better before knowing all the facts.
          Course I know you are smarter than that by the simple fact you offer to help lawyers. But you would stop that practice real quick once they have you in front of a Judge falsely accusing you for damage or loss of their vital business data, and your company has no physical way to disprove otherwize. Ignorance is NOT a defense in any court room according to the law. If you don’t know all of the facts, and you offer suggestions that you suspect would cause a remedy, and the client messes things up, it’s on your head. If the person who is calling you is a novice end user, ask to remotely take over their system and fix the issue as best as you can without their input. That way they can see and learn, and you will have less arguements.

        • #3213297

          Danger, Will Robinson!

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to But, what if their data isn’t retrievable ?

          Been there, done that — sometimes you just eat crow (or “Balut”, feathers, bones and goo). It is possible at times to carefully suggest various disaster recovery possibilities and emphasize their probability of success, time to complete, expense (OCR’ing paper documents, spend a fortune to have a disk scanned with a STM). Quite often you will discover that up until that moment in time everyone assumed that your job was to protect them from themselves. When they realize it is not; they wonder why you exist. It scarcely matters how many times you have advised them to back up their data; not many people are mature enough to admit, “You were right; I did not make copies of my information” and eat their own humble pie.

          In a corporate setting, it may be your job to make sure critical information is not lost, no matter whose computer it is on.

          “If the person who is calling you is a novice end user, ask to remotely take over their system and fix the issue as best as you can without their input. That way they can see and learn, and you will have less arguements.”

          Good advice for corporate helpdesk, bad juju in a public or semi-public setting. Real bad if the novice user is your brother/sister/mother/father — in which case, every problem the computer now has or ever will have will be your fault.

        • #3213132

          I agree…lots of good points here

          by tspevak ·

          In reply to But, what if their data isn’t retrievable ?

          Nacromancer brings up some good points.

          Rather than “totally agree” with an angry customer and potentially paint yourself into a technological corner and promise something you can’t deliver; I think you can better diffuse the situation by saying “Let’s get to the bottom of this.” Taking charge of the situation is fairly easy, once you develop the skill.

          1) Diffuse their anger. Not only listen to what they have to say, but then summarize it back to them to make sure you understand their points. Doing this does wonders to get people, well most people, to chill. As mentioned, a few people will push this social envelope, but most will chill.

          2) If they become verbally abusive, tell them that you want to help them but can’t do it if you are being targeted. Tell them you are trying to focus on the problem so you can solve it. If they are specifically targeting you, warn them that you will end the phone call if they continue. Follow through if they don’t comply. If in person, get a manager involved as soon as possible if they continue to target you. You can express some empathetic statements about how rotten it was to experience something like whatever they describe, but you don’t have to be abused because they got a bad deal somewhere else.
          However, there is a difference between standing up for yourself and being sarcastic or insulting. You really do have to watch what you say here.

          3) Break the solution into steps out for the person. First, determining the problem. Second, addressing each issue…..These might be corporately prescribed, or you might just put together something on the fly to give direction to the call. Customers can get the sense that something is being done.

          4) Also as mentioned, don’t promise things you aren’t sure you can deliver and don’t try to wield more authority than you really have. At this point in the customer relationship, you are at a critical point building trust. If something doesn’t unfold the exactly the way as promised; it will probably blow up in your face. If you say you will call someone back, even if you don’t have any new information.

          5) Very important, and previously mentioned, don’t take anything personal. The psychological phenomenon of transference is way too common. The classic example is the boss chews out a worker for doing something, and rather than talk-back to the boss; the worker takes home the pent-up anger and frustration on his family instead. They weren’t the cause of the anger, yet they end up experiecing it. Having worked at a call center for several years, I have seen this play out with people taking customer calls. One bad phone call can taint your whole day, but only if you let it.


    • #3212951

      Don’t forget to breathe

      by tig2 ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I find that when someone is red-faced angry, it is very easy to get equally red-faced angry.

      I generally drop the tone of my normal speaking voice. Yes, it makes me harder to hear, but only marginally. In general, people don’t want to fight with someone who isn’t fighting back. A low tone is subliminally calming.

      In many cases, the source of the anger is fear that (a) you will not HEAR the problem, (b) you will not try to solve the problem, (c) their work will suffer if it continues to be a problem. Make a point of addressing likely fear and you have successfully addressed the anger.

      As James pointed out, active listening- reflecting their points back, asking for clarification, etc- is the best tool. As you are asking questions that speak to the users points (and possibly fears) you are diffusing the anger and re-engaging the ability to think critically.

      The more engaged you are in the conversation, the better your customer feels about the contact.

    • #3212939

      Great Irate User/Customer Breaker

      by peter ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      “You’re not angy with me are you?”

      WOrks about 95% of the time!

    • #3212928

      Take notes, make good use of body language

      by maevinn ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I carry a notepad with me everywhere. Whenever someone starts talking about a problem, I start taking notes. The notes are good for several things–first, they allow me to ID the key bits to the problem, and note possible solutions so I won’t forget them, and they document the problem so I can reference back to them if it happens again. But, more than that, it tends to slow down the angry tirade–they see I’m trying to help, they want to make sure they speak slowly enough that I can write down everything. And–they tend to think twice before being abusive–very few want that written down!

      Paying close attention to my body language is really critical, as well. If your words are saying “You’re right, I’m sorry this happened, I’ll take care of it” and your body language is saying “Shod off, you laxy git”, you’re going to have some problems. So–make eye contact, leave the shoulders relaxed and slightly down, arms at waist level, hands open or clearly doing something constructive (ie, no gestures or cleanched fists, but writing is okay), upright posture.

      And, finally, if this doesn’t work, I really will walk away. Smile politely, say they are clearly too upset to be able to work with me, and walk away. I will NOT tolerate being verbally abused. There’s no excuse for it, and it is unprofessional behavior at it’s worst. I’ve yet to have a boss tell me I should stand there and take it when someone is being a jerk.

    • #3212910

      OK, I’m back.

      by fatglenn ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      A freind of mine was once being chewed out by an irate customer over the phone. My freind held the phone a few inches away from his ear until the guy paused to breath, then he said, “Okay, I’m back.” The guy had gotten it out of his system and was ready to be civil. The rest of the conversation went fine. It was hilarious.

      • #3212734

        you are there to serve – when it is possible!

        by rilauriston ·

        In reply to OK, I’m back.

        I’d like to pass on a service acronym (HEAR) – but I’m not sure exactly what it stands for!
        The first part was to listen – Hear – as many posts have said.
        The second and third part were something like “Empathize” and “Acknowlege” which is what was said “Wow, that really does suck. We’ve got to fix that for you.” always seems to work great.”
        The “R” was the response plan – what’s going to happen going forward.
        Be in the shoes of the caller. Even if they are an A-hole, do what you can to deliver to their expectation. “Well, I could try xyz, (if needed)but I don’t think that will help because of vwx” – but try anyway.
        Sorry I haven’t read all the posts – the thin line for me would be giving away too much info about the inner working of the customer service mechanism. When someone can’t calm down, don’t give them any ammunition!
        From the customer side, it’s a real problem if there is newbie call taker who doesn’t have the necessary knowledge – like when I as the irate customer reported that I thought my problems were related to not being able to ping the ISP nameservers, and the rep asked me to type those IPs into my browser…!?!? Hey, like, nameservers aren’t required to respond to port 80…

    • #3212866

      One more thing

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      There can be a fine line between irate behavior and verbal abuse. If they are being verbally abusive, then just walk away. When they ask you where you are going tell them to call you back when they are ready to calmly dicuss their problems.

      • #3212803

        Verbally or Physically Abusive

        by greg-fullspeed ·

        In reply to One more thing

        I agree with the last comment. If someone is very upset and swearing at you, and threating by phyiscal gestures, the best thing to do is walk away and report them to management (even if you can break them in half with one arm tied behind your back).

        If they are just having a bad day and you are certain of this because of your past dealings, i would suggest talking to them when they haved cooled down.

        IT is meant to provide suport and service, not take abuse unnecessarily. Always keep a calm attitude and be assertive. Aggression and passive behaviour does not have a positive impact and generally leaves a poor impression.

      • #3215075
        Avatar photo

        This depends on the situation

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to One more thing

        If it’s an [b]In House Issue[/b] yes you can walk away and complain to Management, but if it’s an outside customer this is the second worst thing that you can do if you are face to face with them the worst thing that you can possibly do is get them removed from the premise by the Police as this is [b]BAD BUSINESS[/b] plain & simple.

        You should be able to defuse the situation and that is exactly what you are there for not to hide behind some [b]Politically Correct BS.[/b] f you have an irate customer get them out of a public area if possible and talk to them and calm them down you can always reach a mutually agreeable settlement if you are prepared to show a bit of give and not stick to the rules like glue. If you can not calm them down pass them up the chain of command to someone who has the authority to bend enough to make them happy. Hardware is easy to replace and always the preferred option particularly if it’s a relatively new unit but Software related problems are a totally different story which can be very hard to fix if at all but you need to try and help them sort out the problem.

        What it really boils down to is what should happen and what you can to to fix something when something bad happens. Should you be expected to be constantly confronted with Abusive Customers threating you with verbal or physical Violence [b]NO[/b] but by the same token you will always get the occasional person like this and you just have to deal with them so you should be able to manage a situation like this or at the very least be in a position to pass the problem to someone who can. If you are going to rely constantly what should happen you are going to leave a lot of unhappy customers who will bad mouth your company at every opportunity and this is a form of Advertising that you do not need. It’s much better to have them telling everyone just how much you did to help them rather than them telling everyone that they know that you just got the police in to remove them!

        It’s part of the job to keep the company in a good light and if the company isn’t interested in having this happen then you shouldn’t be working there in the first place as it only adversely affects your reputation.


    • #3212762

      Go to their level…

      by ghab ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Most times people are POed they can be “brought down” simply by coming down to their level. Never (and I mean NEVER) talk down to someone. I once saw a tech talking to a client like he was a head master talking to a student. All this succeeded in doing was making the user that much more irate (they felt like an idiot).

      The following steps usually do very well in making the user feel like you are trying to understand the problem and will work to remedy the situation to the best of your ability. (It is important not to skip a single step in this process!)

      1. Before you diagnose the problem, make sure you understand what it is that the user is truly complaining about. Yes, the system might be down, but if the problem is that they need access to their email for a teleconference starting in an hour, you?re much better off getting them to their email via another system and then fixing the problem machine than you are trying to get their machine to work and making them sweat it out until you are done. Use the concept of ?two ears / one mouth? meaning listen twice as much as you talk. Don?t diagnose quite yet, get down to the problem from the user?s perspective.

      2. As silly as it sounds, recognize the problem. This can be as simple as repeating (almost word for word) what the person has just told you. It makes a person feel truly understood. Also, if you didn?t perceive what they said correctly (or they failed to tell you what was truly important to them) they will typically correct you.

      3. Give them reassurance that you will do your best to remedy the problem. If the problem was caused by a person, this would be the right time to apologize. Obviously, if you were the cause a simple, ?I?m sorry that X happened. I will take care of correcting the issue,? can go a long way. If someone else was the cause, a say something like, ?I?m sorry that you are experiencing X. I am going to personally take care of correcting the issue,? works well. In any event take ownership of the issue.

      4. Set realistic expectations for a resolution. Nothing makes a person even more irate than when they are finally talked down only to be let down yet again. If the problem is something that requires time to resolve, I like to pad a little time into my estimate. This is to make sure that I come in ahead of schedule. Also, it buys me a little extra time if I run into unforeseen complications.

      5. Keep your word! Now is not the time to let the ball drop. If you say you are going to do something don?t leave it for someone else to do. This is especially important when dealing with someone who is angry. Remember, you are taking personal ownership of their problem. Your credibility is at stake here.

      6. Communicate with the user after the issue is resolved. Make sure that they agree that you have provided the correct remedy. Also, it doesn?t hurt to drop them a quick call the next day to make sure that everything is still ok.

      The reason most people become irate is because they don?t feel understood. The steps above will make someone feel like you are making every attempt to get a handle on their issue and move the ball in the right direction toward the proper solution.

      By the way, these steps work for technical and non technical issues equally well (family, neighbors, etc)?

      • #3215063

        Absolutely right on – ghab!

        by jcitron ·

        In reply to Go to their level…

        In my company I work in IT, Customer Administration, and Technical Services. I have found that this method works pretty well most of the time. There are exceptions of course, but they get dealt with individually.

        One of the best things, as you mentioned, is to acknowledge the problem, and communicate back no matter how irrate the customer is. I always follow-up with an email, or phone call to find out if everything has worked out okay. That to me is one of the biggest failings in business today. For some reason, many people never acknowledge or thank some one for speaking with them, or offer any kind of follow-up later on. It’s as though the customer is pushed off into a black-hole, and I think the customer sometimes feel that way in the end.

        I have found that sometimes the initial customer communication breaks down, and no matter how hard you try to talk, the customer refuses to listen. If this is a customer or dealer (non-IT), I will have them email me or fax me the details of their problem. For some reason, when they start detailing the problem in writing, the problem goes away, or it is easier for me to find. There are exceptions of course, but 99% of the time this works.

        The toughest part of these jobs, (plural for me) is to know when to let go, and not take these things to heart. If I were to internalize all of the customer’s problems, I would end up in the intensive care unit with a heart attack.

        Anyway, one of the things that the customer love is when you remember who they are if they call back. I make it a point to remember people’s names, and I can recall who I spoke with at what company, and when a week ago even if I need to refer back to the information in my log book.

      • #3213696

        Hit the nail on the head !!

        by tseg72351 ·

        In reply to Go to their level…

        I am not a tech or a or any kind or computer knowledgeable person-Yet I have been learning bit by bit by reading thru forums,actually those pages can be very educational ( when understood).Also by working with and errr.. maybe having destroyed a few computers in my time.
        All that was to say that I have had quite a few experiences with help desks and sweetie can I tell you a story or two.
        Your post hit each and every nail on the head.In my estimation weather or not my issue was taken care of I would have walked away fron the encounter in a calm and civilized manner-Maybe not real happy that my issue was not taken care of but not postal either if I had been treated in such a manner.
        As a help desk user and this may not make evryone very happy with me-Yes,we are upset but it is increable how many people out there are not qualified for the jobs they have,rather lets say, maybe not trained as much as needed.
        Dealing with someone who puts you on hold for a “second” every 5 minutes to consult a manual can lead to madness!
        I too work in an arena where I take calls all day long regarding orders and issues with orders and materials customers have purchased.It is amazing how poorly trained and effective some of my co-workers are.Maybe it would help if more time was taken to train and more effective and comprehensive training were implemented before putting a person in the hot seat. That is just a little something I have noticed, and I do believe it is an industry wide problem in the customer service field,no matter what kind of goods or services you are trying to help a customer with.
        If I had three wishes when I made a call like that it would be # 1 The person speak clear and concise English #2 If you are unable to help ( this they should know within the first 5 to 10 minutes )please pass me to someone who can and #3
        Listen and HEAR exactly what I am telling you.
        Thanks for letting me speak my piece and may God Bless all of us who deal with an irate unhappy public !

      • #3213559

        Great foundation, BUT?!

        by nacromancer ·

        In reply to Go to their level…

        You should never ever forget 2 vital things;
        1. Liability
        2. Resources
        Firstly, you can be held liable under the law if what you offer as a remedy, even when implemented by the end user wrongly, for damages to their system or data.
        And secondly, never forget to use good, reliable, pooled resources before making a Prognosis of a situation. Remember always, if you have to ask, then it means you don’t know. Better to say I do not know and ask to consult another resource, than to offer a false pretense. It doesn’t make you appear incompetent, but it actually shows the client you do not want any further problems to occur to their situation before you proceed.
        Not even a surgeon, getting ready to cut on you, will proceed without asking for a second diagnosis from a reputable specialist when needed. Always check with your resources to make sure you are on the right path yourself before implementing anything. In other words, always question ones own judgement before handing down a final prognosis.

      • #3213235

        Now THIS is why I read these postings!

        by tech.paul9 ·

        In reply to Go to their level…

        Thanks to all of you who wrote such solid advice and good strategies, such as ghab and DE wrote.
        I am so sick of petty Microsoft bashing that I have ALMOST stopped reading at this site.
        Since it is my job to “fix” machines, I am always looking for pointers, techniques, and tools-that-just-work to make my job a little easier and my clients glad they called ME.
        Going the extra mile, listening, commiserating, reassuring, and QUICKLY solving the “first things first” problem go a long way toward satisfied clients.
        When the day comes that I have a boiling kettle of a client, I will remember well ghab’s six points!

    • #3215358

      Hugs are good…

      by ciderick ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I had a trader at one of my clients shouting & screaming about the huge amount of money (upwards of $100000, yeah right!!!)he’d just lost coz a system went down. He was demanding to know what I personally was going to do about it, I looked him square in the eyes & said ‘I can give you a hug’. There was a nanosecond where he looked as if he’d kill me but fortunately his sense of humour kicked in. Now, whenever I get a callout from that client the tech always begins the call with ‘We’ve got a trader needing a hug’…

      • #3215209

        Phone hugs work too…

        by rdk55 ·

        In reply to Hugs are good…

        I had a caller very similar to that this week. After about 5 minutes of listening to her vent all I could say was, “Wow. Not only do you need computer help, but it sounds like you need a hug too.”

        We laughed the rest of the way through getting her problem solved.

      • #3276982

        There is good business and there is bad business…

        by sccmstl ·

        In reply to Hugs are good…

        Unreasonable or abusive Help Desk visitors are bad business. Those who are willing to engage in a working relationship to solve a problem are good business. TRASH the bad business – leave them writhing, cut, and brused in the gutter where they belong and let some other organization waste their time dealing with such folks.

        For every hour you waste with such folks, think about how many other people you could serve.

        Bad business is bad business – no amount of “touchy-feely” will make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    • #3215078
      Avatar photo

      Depends on the situation

      by hal 9000 ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Many years ago I was called into the PC side of the Business as I was the most senior person from management available to deal with a customer who had a complaint and wanted his computer replaced UG.

      When I got there I was greeted with the remains of a 286 computer that had suffered 2 12 gauge Shotgun Blasts and one very irate customer demanding that the unit be replaced UG because the software didn’t work and it drove him to shooting the computer out of sheer frustration.

      Well this clearly wasn’t covered by our Guarantee but by the same token the guy was more than slightly upset and I wasn’t quite sure how he would react to the staff on the PC side of things so my way around the situation was to give him a new computer but only on the condition that he attend classes that I organised for him by one of the top teachers/trainers who would show him exactly what he needed to know.

      The entire deal cost the company about 15K AU and when the manager of the PC side of the business got to hear about what I had done he was slightly upset as this clearly wasn’t an item that should be covered by the Guarantee. He was ranting and raving about just how he was going to report me and all the rest of the things that he was going to do because I had taken so much money out of his budget and because I came from the Mainframe side of the business I didn’t consider PC to be of any importance and all the rest. The louder that he was shouting the quieter I spoke till I was almost whispering and I suggested that as he felt so strongly about the entire thing that he should go to this customers home and either retrieve the unit or hand him a bill for the replacement unit and lessons but he had to do it not one of his staff.

      He then decided that being at the wrong end of a double barrelled 12 gauge probably wasn’t such a great idea and it might hurt him slightly so he let it drop. He did make an official complaint and I had to justify my stance but to Upper Management I just said well if I had not have done what I did I could not be sure that he wouldn’t return and take a few pot shots at the building and I thought that it was a better idea not to endanger the staff or have the place shot up by an irate customer where the staff would need counselling for a long time to come that the company would have had to pay for. I made an economic Decision as to which I thought would be the less expensive and decided to replace the dead computer and give him lessons so that the problem didn’t reoccur.

      When it was put like that in $ & cents this was an acceptable decision to management and really it was only a few K involved I used to write off far more than that every week so it wasn’t as if it was going to hurt at all. But I did point out that I should never have been put in that position as I had no connection with that side of the business.

      As it turned out I did the right thing as the guy was so impressed with my actions that he went around recommending me to everyone and I was constantly getting called into the PC Side of the business to sell PC’s to people who walked in off the street as they wouldn’t talk to anyone else I was the one who had been recommended that they talk to. When I tried to explain to one person that I had a job that I just had to be at which was doing a post install of a mainframe he was surprised that I worked with Mainframes and asked me to come out to his business ASAP to give a estimation on a new unit for them. They where not a previous customer of ours so i had no idea what I was walking into but I spent about 4 hours there gave him my recommendation as to what they needed to replace their ageing unit and within a month I had a 3 Million $ Sale for this company and the word was spread around just what a great service we offered so I think that from that one event of doing something unnecessary we sold 15 Mainframes and countless PC’s.

      In light of what happened after wards I certainly made the right decision and got sales that we most likely would never have got and more importantly got life time customers for the business side of the business.

      But on another occasion where a company had suffered water ingress into their Mainframe room I refused to replace a 3 month old unit UG because we didn’t guarantee against flooding or drowning by rain water. But I did offer to work with his insurance company to arrange a satisfactory outcome for him. Because he didn’t have Flood Insurance he technically wasn’t insured for the damage done by the flooding but was covered from the rain water that entered the building and did the initial damage so I got him a new system cost free to him but he had to pay for the cleaning up of the flood damage that had occurred after the initial water penetration. In that case both sides where happy and I defused a potentially bad situation for all concerned.

      Unfortunately there is no [b]On Size Fits All Answer here.[/b] You have to work each case on it’s merits.


      • #3215041

        No matter what the cost, good customer service always returns a profit

        by deadly ernest ·

        In reply to Depends on the situation

        Back in the late 1970s I worked for a company doing counter sales of automotive spares, equipment and tools. I had the dubious title of ‘Assistant Manager’ and usually coped the weekend management, working most Saturdays and Sundays.

        One Sunday just on closing time off 1 pm, a young fellow dashed in needed some parts and tools to fix his car which had just broken down across the road and down the hill a bit. Got everything he needed and it came to A$180, he had only A$160 on him and no way to get any money until Monday. I reworked the sale to give him a trade discount of and the sale now came to A$150. He left happy, Monday the manager jumped all over me for the discoount when it wasn’t justified. Thursday the guy came in with his brother and they placed an order for A$240,000 of equipment and tools for a brand new major automotive workshop they were setting up – there were two of the company’s stores closer, but they wanted to deal with one that provided customer service – us. I continued in that industry for some years and had many customers that followed me from business to business, they trusted me not the companies.

        edited to correct title – it went too long and cut off early

        • #3214985
          Avatar photo

          Same thing here DE

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to No matter what the cost, good customer service always returns a profit

          I still have customers from the days that I worked Mainframes and while they are all today on PC’s they where some of the first smaller business with servers as I sold them what they needed not what they had been told that they needed.

          I’ve lost customers through bad business dealings on their part, major legal action that crippled the companies but I’ve never lost a single customer through them walking away from my services.

          Of course the down side is when several of them insist on having me there at the same time which makes life a bit hard but we work through the problems and I’ve got most of them to accept my staff know as much as I do and are as flexible as I am when required and if I’m not available they all know that they will get as good a service as if I was there. 🙂

          Just never get me started on Wholesale billing as it was something that I used to do all the time particularly to people who I knew in the trade who where not our dealers which was against company policy but as I knew that the end user was paying the bill no matter what and that these people where going to do a good job of things I always thought it better to sell at Trade rather than retail which was really only going to end up costing our customers more somehow.

          When people know that you are willing to not only help them but actively look after them you tend to keep them for life.


        • #3214938

          That’s because they all saw that old Mortein ad

          by deadly ernest ·

          In reply to Same thing here DE

          When you’re on a good thing stick to it. – so they do.

          editted to fix a typo in the title

        • #3214942

          Good for you!

          by zlitocook ·

          In reply to No matter what the cost, good customer service always returns a profit

          I try to be a person who dose the right thing too. There are not too many people like that or if there is we do not hear about them. Try to help or do some thing nice and most people are not ready for some thing like that. But you always get a smile and one good turn may come back to you as a good thing for you.

        • #3214936

          What is funny is the way many people react when

          by deadly ernest ·

          In reply to Good for you!

          you do the right thing. Pay over a $50 not for a bill of $28 and they mess up and give you $28 change and you just stand there holding your hand out and say “I don’t think that’s right.” They get very flustered because they assume you’re trying to rip them off for more change and then get extremely embarrased when they realise you’re saying they gave you too much change.

        • #3214929
          Avatar photo

          Actually the funniest one that I’ve ever had

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Good for you!

          Was when I was repairing Sewing Machines when I was at Uni. I had a machine brought in where a screw had come loose in an old machine so the son had just grabbed a half inch drill bit and drilled through the base and then the arm of the machine and forced in a self tapping screw and it didn’t matter that he had first pulled out the screw that had somehow got loose he didn’t even try to refit it.

          I was handed the job and I immediately suggested hat it wasn’t an economic repair but the owner wanted it fixed so I did a quote and when I got the go ahead I ordered the parts. Now these where strange parts to order so I was asked by the AU Service Manager why I wanted them so I related the story about what had happened and he said that they would have to order the parts from Switzerland or I could have for free some paint damaged parts that they had, had in stock forever. They also had a part of a complete sub assembly which was all that I required and I was offered this also so I rang the owner and asked if it would be OK to use these parts and she would only be paying for the labour involved in doing the repair. As this saved her close to 1K AU she was happy and what made it even better is that I could have it ready within a week and there would be no 6 month + waiting period for the parts to come in so she was happy. I gave here a Guesstimate on the labour involved and added a bit extra just in case and told her that it wouldn’t cost more than this amount and possibly less.

          The parts arrived and I got stuck in and repaired the unit and it took far less time that what I had estimated and in an attempt to save her some more money I fitted some bits that had been damaged during Dealer Training which while 100% safe we couldn’t sell and I got the entire job done for under $150.00 AU. I rang her up and she seemed pleased that I had got the job done so quickly and it was even better being cheaper than the quote.

          She came in picked up the machine and the next day she was on the phone to the QLD Sales Manager complaining about poor workmanship and just how poorly the machine had been repaired. At this point in time she had not even taken it out of the case but was complaining none the less.

          In an attempt to solve the problem I asked her to come in and show me what was going wrong which she did and the machine worked perfectly but this wasn’t good enough for her because I hadn’t charged enough so I can not have done the job properly.

          It’s the only time I’ve ever been hauled over the coals because a job was too cheap. She was happy with the parts fitted without cost as they only had minor paint damage and the mechanical stuff worked perfectly but she had got it into her head that she just had not paid enough for the repair so it can not have been done properly. :^0

          We settled the matter by me accepting another $300.00 For the job and invoicing out the extra charges as Labour.

          But I really felt guilt about that one as I was actually robbing her blind at her request or more properly her Demand.

          Some people are never happy no matter how much you go out of your way to help them. :0


        • #3214921

          Some people believe – you only get what you pay for

          by deadly ernest ·

          In reply to Actually the funniest one that I’ve ever had

          a little too much.

          More probably she had a big piece of her son for messing things up and was making him pay the bill and really wanted to force the message home.

        • #3214834
          Avatar photo

          Actually it was quite funny because

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Some people believe – you only get what you pay for

          I didn’t realise what she was complaining about till I had been on the phone to her for about 15 minutes and I couldn’t get my head around the fact that she was complaining that it was [b]Too Cheap.[/b]

          The funny thing is that it was working but there where cracks developing that would have eventually caused the end of the Free Arm to break off so it had to be changed. He had managed to drill straight through some strengthening struts on in inner casing and take out a vital reinforcing point.

          But it’s the only time that it’s ever happened I’ve had lots of people insist that I’m not charging enough mostly for jobs UG in IT but I’ve never ever run into something like that again. I thought that I had [b]Screwed Up[/b] or something and the thing wasn’t working properly which had me confused as I knew that it was working properly when I took it off my work bench. 😀


    • #3214979

      Quote Gandhi

      by phildavibang ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Dear Sir Gandhi said “Customer is God” and its very difficult to please God! I’m a mere mortal I’ll do my very best!

    • #3214933

      Like most people are saying….

      by geekchic ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      You just have to listen first. I usually just try to put myself in their shoes and remember that not everyone that uses a computer knows what I know.

      But, I have really been lucky and the 8 years that I have been doing this have only had one person that was truly rude to me. I told my boss about it and he told her boss and he told her to apoligize to me or else….and she did. And then her boss called and apoligized to me for her attitude.

      With some people you just have to ignore their attitudes and if you can….transfer them to someone else!!! LOL!

    • #3214782

      Why Waste Your Time?

      by sccmstl ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      If after an hour of sucking up your time (assuming you have been professional and understanding of the person’s plight), why would you want to waste more time with this cretin? Let the SOB stew in their own juices. The emphasis on giving everyone a “warm and fuzzy feeling about IT” is nonsense. If someone is still fuming after an hour on the phone, then they need to have their medication adjusted, or they are maintaining an “attitude” just for the fun of it. Such folks are usually abusers of one substance or another, and often have histories of beating wives or abusing their children. Time to move on to someone who will appreciate your efforts.

      • #3213681

        Cause you want to keep your job

        by deadly ernest ·

        In reply to Why Waste Your Time?

        If you make no effort to calm the client down and keep them as a client, then you a likely to lose your job after the client goes elsewhere or the business shuts down for lack of business. I’ve seen it happen.

      • #3213590
        Avatar photo

        Well speaking from the other side

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to Why Waste Your Time?

        If you just walk away you are showing a [b]Total Lack of Professionalism![/b]

        I’ve spent hours on the phone to MS Support when I’ve had problems and you go through a set procedure that would drive the average person totally insane. In the last case where I had to speak to MS Support back when SP1 became available for XP just installing SP 1 resulted in corrupted MBR’s on every HDD in the machine. After telling the guy at the first tier support that I had performed [b]Clean Installs on Blank HDD’s several times[/b] the first suggestion was to try a reinstall! [b] Now why should I bother asking for help and giving these people the answers that they need to find a solution when they totally ignore what I have to say?[/b]

        Then there can be the long waiting periods involved just to get to speak to someone from support. You are going to have one very unhappy camper if they have been waiting on hold for over 1 hour to be told to just reinstall the OS after they have already done this 3 times and told you so. Just the wait will drive most people nuts and the poor person that gets them after that long wait is going to cop it and they have to attempt to solve the problem that their own company has created in the wait before they can even attempt to cure a technical problem.

        Your approach reminds me of that joke that was doing the rounds a few years ago where some one rings up Tech Support telling them that their computer isn’t working and then tells them that they can not see if everything is plugged in properly because there is a power outage. The Support guy tells them to pack it up and return the entire system to the place of purchase and tell them that I need a [b]Refund because I’m too F###en Stupid to Own a Computer.[/b] This just isn’t acceptable practise no matter [b]WHAT![/b]

        Look at it from another view point would you be happy if this was to happen to you? First you wait for ages at the original purchase point only to be told that they are unable to help you then they pass you onto a different place and give you the wrong phone number so that’s another wait only to be told that you are at the wrong place and this phone number will be able to help you and then anything up to 3 hours latter when you finally get someone on the line are you going to apologise because you’ve gone to 2 wrong places?

        I don’t know of many that would most would be wanting to tear into someone by that stage and quite rightly so, there fore you have to cool them down and get to the real problem before you can even start on their technical problem once you have got there you can then start to try to fix the technical problem and Heaven help you if all that is required is a 3 mouse button click sequence. If you where to tell someone just how simple that was you are implying that they are stupid and are asking for problems.

        Customer Service is [b]Exactly That[/b] a service to the Customer who after all is said and done allows you to have your current job as without customers there would be no need for you to be there would there?

        Once you get away from the idea that IT is a [b]Service Industry[/b] you are on a very steep greasy slop into unemployment.


    • #3214779

      Stay calm

      by roger_bj ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      When people are angry there is usually a good reason. Stay calm, let them unload their anger without interruption and assure them that you will resolve their issue as quickly as possible. If you can, give them a time scale. If you can’t resolve it there and then, call them regularly to explain progress.

    • #3213723

      Ask them to repeat it!

      by greytech ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I have found on the few occasions it has happened in the last 30 years, that if someone is being abusive, stop them by saying something like “Hold it! I’m not sure I heard you correctly, would you mind repeating that.” It has worked every time so far. Then you can open up with asking them to describe what is really bothering them.

      • #3213947

        Asking to repeat gets interesting results

        by jimmie.kepler ·

        In reply to Ask them to repeat it!

        I have been doing IT support for more than a decade. I have used the technique of asking the unhappy customer to repeat their @#$%^&*. I have had them start laughing, apologize, and explain the issue in human terms. I have had them also elevate their hostility to another level, though this has been the exception. What I try doing most of the time is “Nice them to death”. What I mean by this is the meaner they get the nicer and kinder I get. It works almost all the time.

    • #3213687

      Let them vent

      by timandlizh ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I have always found that no matter why customers are irate (and I mean IRATE!!!), if you let them vent first, then it is possible to open communication between you and the customer. Otherwise, fuggetaboutit! After that, I have always found that the best thing to do is to make sure you provide the customer with A solution, which sometimes does not involve fixing their machine. I fixed copiers for 8 years, mostly in print shops (pay-per-print), and that was great customer service practice for me—you wanna talk about crucial time crunches?!?! I am now in IT, and it seems like a breeze compared to when I fixed copiers.

    • #3213625

      I usually use my inside voice…..

      by tryskadec ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I stay calm and confident and tell them step by step in baby words what I’m doing, what I can see is going on, and how I can help.

      I’m also not afraid to let someone know they are being abusive, if they are being abusive. This usually serves as an attitude check.

      I remember way back when there was this British guy who was tech support for his area, who use to call the helpdesk at a company I worked for. he was always foul-tempered, and abusive with the techs. He became my speciality. I used to jsut keep calm, and cofident, and I would walk him through the same script any other phone tech would have walked him through.

      I couched it in “this is standard troubleshooting and we do need to take it step by step, because soemtimes it’s the little things we miss” and then he’d happily go along with it, and 9 times out of 10, we’d find it was one of those little things, like a bad authentication password, etc.

    • #3213623

      My job is to fix their problem

      by cweb ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Not to fight with them or try to win something. I tell them up front I am there to help fix that PC problem. And ask them how I can help do that. If they want to vent about someone else or that they don’t like how they were treated. I remind them I am here to help them fix their Computer problems. I leave it at that I don’t tell them the previous person isn’t good or anything like that. I don’t argue with them I just wait. They normally calm down and we work through their problem.

    • #3213604

      Security, isolation, debriefing

      by kj7gs ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I would suggest a decision as to whether the person is going dangerous, then isolating the disturbance from other customers. IOW, “Sir/ma’am, is this going to be a security issue where I should I contact the authorities, or would you like to step into my office where we can discuss this reasonably?” From there, some “crisis management” debriefings might help — allow the person to “vent” in private, empathize (“What happened?…I don’t blame you for feeling the way you did”), re-frame (how can we make sure this never happens again) & set goals, work on an action plan together (written if possible), execute and follow up.

    • #3213594

      Give them what they really want.

      by todd murray ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I have found that most people just want to be heard. So you listen to their complaint in a fair and empathetic manner. Let them know that you understand their frustration and give them a chance to get it out. So long as they don’t resort to personal attacks spend a few minutes just to let them calm down. Let them know it?s ok if they vent a bit so long as they don’t make it personal.

      Then once they have voiced their anger use closed questions to probe the issue and do your best to fix it while showing them that you won’t ignore them.

      In the long run they will see the patience and consideration you’ve shown and work with you accordingly.

    • #3213584

      Concentrate on the problems

      by blarman ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      And sometimes, these are technical in nature. Having done help-desk support for over 8 years, I find that many of my most irate calls are from people where a technical problem isn’t the underlying cause of their frustration, but rather something else. This can be the stress of trying to get a project completed on time, too many hours at work, and many other things.

      Most of the time, it helps calm the person down just to state the obvious, but empathetic statement: “That must make it difficult to get your objectives achieved.” Mean it when you say it, but it works miracles for me. Many times people just want a shoulder to cry on (figuratively) or someone to gripe to, and they want your sympathy BEFORE they want you to fix the problem. It only takes an extra 30 seconds, and a few words to that effect get them on your side.

      The next key is to make sure that they know that you can and will solve the problem (assuming it is within your expertise, doesn’t compromise policies, etc.). When they know that you are committed to their success (make sure you deliver), they’ll be happy to work with you.

    • #3213566

      (almost) always works…

      by Anonymous ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      There are always those rare people that are truly just plain mean, and you won’t be able to do much except ride it out, but for the rest.

      1. Stay calm
      2. Listen to their rant (really, actively, sympathetically listen)
      3. Be sympathetic
      4. Most of the time the frustration is that they don’t feel like they are being listend to and (even more importantly) treated with respect).
      5. Confidently assure them that you are going to listen, and help them with their problem.
      6. Work the problem. If it can’t be fixed immediately, make sure you give regular follup communication.
      7. A little humor can help as well, but be careful with this one. (I have had pretty good succes with a lighthearted threat to take a bigger hammer to their computer, as they are often thinking that already, but make sure you feel them out first, now if defenitely not the time to have your joke tank).

      The most important keys are to demonstrate that you really care, and that you are not going to ‘leave them’ until the probem is solved.

    • #3213539


      by hobbes06 ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Start out with an apology. You don’t have to apologize for their problem, but you can apologize for them not feeling that they have resolution to the issue. After that, listen to what their issue is and respond with an honest answer as to why or why not you can help them. If you can’t help them, try to provide them another option to get what they need accomplished or let them know when it will be available. If you can fix their issue, schedule it, and meet the schedule or followup with the assigned person and the customer.

      Communication up front probably caused your issue and communication afterwards can help bail you out.

    • #3213482

      “Customer Is Difficult” on the work order

      by too old for it ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      Had a customer who had a fistfull of these, from every repair place in town. Slapped them on the desk and said “you may as well start with that”. I told him I didn’t have the time, and we talked for about an hour.

      Turns out he had the typical problem of an un-managed environment: PC’s from all over, network with 3 peoples hands in it (the ISP, the slaeman who only came in once a week, and of course the IT-guy-of-the-moment).

      Set that right, got his accounting program correctly licensed for network use so he could get support from the vendor, he was satisfied.

      I think he would have been happy if we could have gotten his remote PC to dial in any faster that 26.4, but we have our limits.

    • #3213447

      My Solution

      by techdude60 ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I’d politely ask the customer to calm down and explain the problem in a civil manner. If that can’t be done I hand them my business card while explaining I don’t work under such hostile conditions and to call me back if he/she so desires. I have about a 90% success rate.

    • #3213443

      What do you do to talk a user/customer

      by justpassinthru ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      When you are limited to 5-12 minutes per customer, it is no wonder they become irate, as they have to call back on the average of 3-4 times. After the first call being dropped due to time they are angry and frustrated. We are supposed to be helping them even though we are limited by time.

    • #3213414

      Users are scared of me

      by gnx ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      As a former Navy SEAL, most users will tell me nicely that their PC / printer is not working and will not go into a tirade about it. We usually show up at the desk when there is a problem. If they do go into a tirade I just walk awy from them. The management says this is ok as I do not have time for this.

      • #3213305

        Sounds like I used be

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to Users are scared of me

        I was always a big boy, not alot of fat but its going that way now.:) I was a weight lifter and played football, I took martial arts for eight years from 12 to 20 years old.
        So when you see a big guy come running to you to fix your problem it seems to have some effect. But once they know me I am sunk because I would not hurt any thing even if I wanted too.

    • #3213320

      It takes a lot of discipline, but can be done

      by julee.denton9 ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      First, just let go of the idea that you can “talk” someone out of being irate. If you are on a help desk, chances are that by the time your customer gets to you they have been through a maze of telephone routing options-which only makes an irate person angrier.
      During the course of my career I have found that listening is the best initial response. A user who has a tendency to allow their emotions to control them in the workplace usually wants to vent. Being quiet, but carefully listening to them allows them the space they need to get past the anger. An added benefit is that your lack of response makes them stop and evaluate their behavior. Eventually, they will have nothing left to say and begin wondering why you are not arguing with them.
      When they are sufficiently confused and start to calm down, now you step in with your customer service skills. Never take anything they say as a personal attack. It is not personal. Make sure you keep your emotions in check; they would say the same thing and act in the same manner no matter who happened to pick up the telephone. Unless, of course, if it was their boss.
      In a calm voice, try and get to the root of the problem. If they were saying anything meaningful during the initial phase of the phone call, taking notes is helpful. Get the basics and reassure them that you are going to make sure their problem is addressed. If you are able to resolve the problem right then, great. If not, let them know that even though you are unable fix their problem immediately you will make sure that the issue is given to the person who can. Tell them that you will follow through and make sure it is done.
      Finally, you have to be true to your word. Make sure you do exactly what you say you will, and always keep the user informed. Treat every customer as though he was the CEO, and you will soon earn a reputation as the caring, intelligent person you are!

    • #3213308

      Dealing with irate users or customers

      by confusionreigns ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      As a former sales representative, I’ve always found that the best way to get an irate user or customer to calm down enough to find out what is really bugging them (this might be different to what they are telling you during their ranting) and then to be able to really help them, is to first agree with everything they say. Yep, just agree. “Yes sir/ma’am, you are perfectly right to complain. You have every right to be upset. If it happened to me, I would be upset too” (and so, on until they calm down – this might take a few minutes, but it’s worth the effort from your part). Once you’ve got them calm (and they will also then be willing to listen to you, because they can see that you’ve been listening to them), they will then tell you calmly what the real problem is, and then when you try to help them (even if you eventually can’t) they will be very happy with your service (and you will have made a good promoter of your service for the future). Believe me, this really works!

      • #3214004

        That’s not agreeing with everything they’re saying though!

        by maevinn ·

        In reply to Dealing with irate users or customers

        A key point. ‘You’re right to be upset’ is not the same thing as ‘You’re right’. Agreeing with everything someone says can cause problems, and agreeing that they are perfectly within their rights to be unhappy, while different, tends to be remembered as ‘You’re right’. So, the next time the user has a problem and freaks out in the same fashion, are they still right? And I still say that there are certain behaviors which are not acceptable in the work place. Tolerating them just encourages them.

        • #3213818

          Sorry, Bu you’ve got it a little wrong

          by confusionreigns ·

          In reply to That’s not agreeing with everything they’re saying though!

          My point was that at the outset of a rant, the person doing the ranting is more often than not just venting frustration without really telling you what the real problem is. If you jump in then and start trying immediately to solve the problem, you will probably spend a lot of wasted time trying to solve the wrong problem. What you need to do is first acknowledge that the person’s feelings are justified (whether you agree with them or not). You’re not promising anything at this time (at least you shouldn’t be). In fact, you’re actually saying very little. You are just being an empathetic listener. Later, when the person has calmed down and is more amenable to listening to you, you can then quietly and carefully move their thinking around to the real issue and, once you know what the real problem is, (and it may have very little to do with the technology, in which case your tech solution will also be very little, but your willingness to listen will have meant a lot to them). Remember, the person on the other end of the phone is not just ‘a user’, but the reason you have a job. Without users, helpdesks aren’t needed. Cheers

    • #3213285

      I don’t believe it

      by not_it_john ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      I can’t believe how many replies I’ve read here that say, essentially, “listen to everything the user has to say.” I thought it was IT norm to catch the first few words of a report and then spit out a generic reply! I’m not kidding, and I’m not being facetious, when I say, I thought that was standard operating procedure, and that you only actually paid attention to the whole report if it was a repeat report! Sad to day, that seems to be the general state of IT support today.

      • #3213776
        Avatar photo

        That depends on the company

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to I don’t believe it

        And the workers. Most first tier Help Desk people don’t know how to listen to a problem and just give you the first thing that they can think of.

        It’s when you start to hit the people who have been there longer and higher up where you start to get the [b]Good Oil![/b] But honestly the First Tier really is only good for questions like My computer will not start what should I do? The answer to this should be to check the the power plug is actually plugged in and switched on.

        Personally I find First Tier Help Desk people next to useless. If I wanted a simple answer that I had not already tried to fix a problem I would ring them but to me contacting and Help Desk is a [b]Last Resort[/b] when everything else that I can think of has failed.

        Unfortunately for me what I get these problems I generally find that there is no known answer and I have to work it out myself and then phone back with a solution/workaround or whatever.


    • #3213206

      I am looking at it from the other end

      by maartje ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      As I find that help desk employees are often ignorant on anything except for the most standard problems that occur in whatever their field is – problems for which I would not call in the first place- or , worse, are arrogant, condescending, boorish, impatient,timeclock-bound, AND, on top of that, ignorant.
      Prime example: Sunrocket (VOIP) tech employees. I went through all the million hoops they wanted me to jump a million times, protesting I had done this a million times already, and still my phone did not work properly.
      What topped it was when an employee told me “you really need to get a better phone connection while we try and fix the phone.” I told him I wholeheartedly agreed, and that I would do so, so that he would not be inconvenienced anymore with my bad phone quality- and I switched to another VOIP company. Problem solved.

    • #3230070

      Listen, never interrupt

      by timbstoke ·

      In reply to What do you do to talk a user/customer

      If the user/customer is upset about something, they’ll generally feel a lot better if you just let them talk. Once it’s out of their system, then you can get on and fix the issue at hand.

      Also, keep lots of communication and feedback going with the customer – remember that this is a customer problem, not just a computer problem. You may also identify some issues with the service that do need to be addressed.

      One example that comes to mind was a customer that called in a few weeks ago having problems. He called in just after midnight, when we only had one tech working, providing both onsite and phone support. The tech was under the impression that it was urgent, but the problem was complicated, plus the tech had to keep attending to other jobs or do research on the customer’s problem. The tech always called right back, but it was around 2am by the time he finally gave up. By this time, the customer was very irate. The tech researched the issue throughout the night, and by the time I arrived the next day, he had a solution ready to be delivered. I called the customer back, and thanks to the first tech’s research, I had the problem fixed within 5 minutes.

      The customer’s main complaints were firstly, that a phone extension was in the bedroom where his wife was sleeping – the tech continuously calling back was a problem. On one hand, this wasn’t communicated to the tech. On the other, the tech never clarified whether the problem needed solving now, or if it would wait until morning.

      Secondly, the customer was under the impression that the tech was seeking advice from a senior tech between calls, and feels that his issue would have been resolved more quickly had he just been able to speak directly to the senior tech. There was no senior tech – the tech either had other time-sensitive jobs to do (such as changing backup tapes, where we have only a 30 minute window between one day’s backup finishing and the next starting), or was researching the problem on the internet.

      This was capped off by the fact that the customer spent 2 hours on the phone to the first tech for a fix that took me 5 minutes. After I finished listening to the customer, I explained the situation from our side of things. This improved the customer’s perception of both the first tech and the department as a whole no end, and although he still felt there was room for improvement, when asked for specifics I felt he had a point on all the remaining issues.

      We agreed on issues that our department needed to address, and escalated these to management for changes to policy – the main ones being that out of hours calls from home based customers are now handled with a view to ascertaining the urgency from the customer’s point of view, and we now have two night shift tech’s to prevent calls from being interrupted.

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