When Customer Service Works

Still on the whack thing.  It wasn’t quite enough (but it did help) that I spent the morning talking to a very nice tech support agent in India, using my best corporate voice, while wearing bunny slippers and sporting bed-hair.

Agent: Welcome to XYZ company technical support,  you are speaking to Sandrita, how may I help you with our product today?

I’ve learned to say the problem and the outcome I want in the first volley.  Almost always gets me to the person who can fix it.  Usually a supervisor.  I actively keep my tone of voice in “I know you can  help me” mode.

Jane: Here’s my problem.  The technical installation wasn’t performed properly yesterday, causing my client to lose an entire day’s work.  It’s okay, we understand glitches happen.  This is what I want:  I would like you to send a technician over to my client to correct the mistake, review all operations related to the installation, and test the server in-house and remotely to ensure it is working well.  I’m happy to speak to a supervisor if that’s where we need to start.

Sandrita:  Yes.  Thank you for telling us of your problem.  We will be solving this within the hour, please do not worry.  What, exactly, is the problem Ma’am?  Do you mind if I am asking you this?

(okay, gotta simplify.  I wiggle the bunny ears with my toes.)

Jane: No, I don’t mind at all.  It doesn’t work.

Sandrita: I see, thank you for telling me this.  Now, if I understand you correctly, you are saying it is not working?  Please do not worry.  We will be solving this within the hour.

I immediately like Sandrita.  Her tone of voice is one of talking to a best friend who needs to be talked gently down off the ledge.  Cheerful, confident, friendly and committed desire to help.  I’m starting to enjoy this.

Jane: Nope.  Not working.  Not even a megabyte an hour. (Score one for Jane! Tech joke.)

Sandrita: (laughing)  Ah!  I see.  The server has no connection, yes?  Please do not worry, we will be having this solved within the hour.

Poor woman is trapped.  Stuck on the phone with legions of angry people waiting in line, and a scripted promise she must make but has no ability to deliver.  As a mom, I SO identify.

How do I help her? Do I answer “yes” I have no connection or “no” I have no connection? I make it simple.

Jane: There is no connection.  It’s a hardware issue.

Sandrita:  I know!  This is what we will do.  I will stay on the line and we will walk through re-installing the software together.  Do not worry.  We will be having this solved within the hour.

Jane: The software is fine, there is no….(what would get this across?)…traffic on the line you installed.  No megabytes go out, no megabytes come in.  (We both laugh again.)

Sandrita: Oh!  I see.  It is not working!  It’s okay, I will help you…

I interrupt her cheerfully

Jane: …Wait!  I won’t worry, because….(she laughs knowing where I’m going: we finish the sentence together)…we will be having this solved within the hour!

She is struggling not to lose it. I am choking. ACK, I don’t want her to get fired! I stifle myself and we giggle quietly.  I think we made each other’s day.

I asked to speak to her supervisor when we were done.  She guardedly came on the line, cold and defensive.

Supervisor: Yes, this is she.  How may I help you?

Jane: I want to compliment you.  The agent I just spoke with is excellent.  She helped me resolve problems I did not know I had.  I’d steal her from you in a heartbeat.  Would you please note the compliment in her file for me?

Supervisor:  (Joyful)  Yes yes!  I will be doing that for you!  It is kind of you to take your time and tell me of this.  We hope to please all our customers!

The situation did get resolved 5 hours later after I get a tech in the US to drive over to the location and fix it.

I hope that compliment was enough to help get Sandrita a raise on her next review.  I have a warm fuzzy feeling for a woman in India I will never meet, or speak to again.  She might not be a friend, but she was a little star in my universe, and definitely a friend in that moment.

The thing that got fixed on the phone?  My whack went in, just a little, from sharing the humor in a ridiculous, but common, human dilemma. That it was with someone across the world from me made it even sweeter.

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10 thoughts on “When Customer Service Works

  1. lizgoldsmith

    Hmmm . . . I had a similar discussion with three separate support people and two supervisors at Adobe. I’m not sure how many countries my problem visited but four months later my software still doesn’t work properly! Maybe I need you to call them for me!

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      I will share my big secret. Okay, it’s just common sense, but since I lack healthy doses of it, common sense feels like an exciting secret.

      My personal rules (which I’m sure you already do!)

      Rule #1 : I try to get us on the same side before I go into the problem. “I SO need your help. I know you can help me with this, and I’m glad to have gotten through to you. I’m sorry, what was your name again?” Usually people are so happy to be talked to cheerfully instead of yelled at, they will do anything to help. My ISP customer service tech once spent 45 minutes helping me solve a problem that had nothing to do with my connection. It was evening, so I got their address and had two giant pizza’s delivered. They must have made a note in my file. It’s been 7 years, and they still say, “Oh you’re the pizza woman! How can I help you??”.

      Rule #2: Never ask for a supervisor in anger. A supervisor is usually an agent who was promoted, they have tons of info, and can really help. Ask way before you even get irritated. Explain you know it’s difficult for everyone on the floor to have the depth of knowledge (true) that a supervisor has, and you’re hoping they will be able to help you. Thank them for taking your call.

      Rule #3: The dreaded transfer. When the call center agent wants to transfer you, thank them, ask for the number they are transferring you to, in case you are disconnected, and ask for their personal direct line; they’ve helped you so much! You just know they can get you to the right place if the new call fails, and that way no one has to start over again.

      Tip: Voice tree purgatory: endless looping of options that don’t help, no choice for live person. Most voice trees have an emergency opt out key word that will get you to a person. Hit 0 2x (some are repeatedly), or say keywords like Agent, Representative, and Operator.

      Not that I spend a lot of time on customer service lines or anything….(sigh)

      Reply
  2. eventer79

    Aw, ok, see, that’s just a nice story! And you are a nice person. Kudos to you for having patience with people, it’s something I seriously lack.

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Oh I don’t always have patience, believe me, but something about this woman, who was trying so hard, and really did want to fix it…I could identify with the fact she was being thrown to the wolves (put out on the floor without backup support or information), told exactly what she must say to keep her job, knowing it will likely anger the person on the other end.

      I identified with having to stick to a script I could only make good on half the time, if that. I tell our kid: don’t worry, eventually it will be okay that your best friend turned on you and is now telling vicious lies to the entire school. It’s not really going to ever be okay. She will remember it for the rest of her life. I can’t fix it. I can hold her and rock her and say (basically) don’t worry, we will be having this fixed within the hour.

      Then I can go beat the crap out of that little two-faced twit. *sigh* Wouldn’t it be nice?

      Oops. You can see my whack is out. 😦

      Reply
  3. billie

    I love this. How wonderful that you turned what for many of us would be infuriating into such a delightful exchange. 🙂

    (I also have to say that somehow I missed all those Shetland videos until this week and oh my gosh! were they fabulous! thank you!)

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      I love those videos! I do want a whole herd of shetlands. 😉 I didn’t consciously try to change the exchange, it just kinda went there. The whack back in moments are where we find them?

      Reply

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