Friday, November 09, 2007

Call Center Rep

Most of us have at least one horrible customer service representative experience. It usually begins with some moron reading from a script like an automaton and fully tuning out our desperate pleas for help. Horror stories abound.

For the first time in many years, I fell prey to a tempting promotional offer which would shave $30 a month from my high speed internet and phone bill for twelve months. The call center ordeal extracted much more than that in a few hours. I would be writing this long rant about my nightmarish encounter with twenty different reps in the course of a few hours but for Leslie.

My nerves were completely frayed when Leslie answered the phone. Even before she could complete her greeting, I demanded a credit to my account since my services were non-existent and the imbeciles at the call center had no idea how to fix the problem. I had been bounced through different levels of tech support each as incompetent as the other. I was furious and my decibel levels were high enough to make J cower in one corner of the couch.

Even in the middle of my incoherent ranting, I was able to sense the "realness" about Leslie. She was not the typical call center worker who switches to autopilot to deal with customers having a meltdown. She was not dispensing scripted platitudes like "I do apologize for your poor customer experience" every opportunity she got. In a firm but polite voice she asked me if she could run some diagnostics on my system and proceed from there.

I could tell, this girl knew her job from her confident demeanor. We worked together for the next hour and a half, as she tried everything possible to resolve the problem remotely. At some point, my anger had given way to friendliness. I found myself joking about my experience with her company's call center. She laughed and empathized as a real person might but with her professionalism uncompromised.

So complete and undivided was her attention to solving my problem that it seemed for the duration of the call, I was at the center of her universe and the only thing in that mattered was to see my services restored. She seemed to have silenced the normal din of my humdrum existence with her focus on her job that also involved my participation. From being irate and largely out of control, I had calmed down and was happy to have a conversation with a customer service rep. I knew fully well it may still take a technician to come home to fix the problem.

At the end of the call, I told Leslie how much I appreciated her efforts to help me and would love to provide her supervisor some great feedback on her wonderful work and attitude. It was a great feeling to tell her manager that Leslie was a stellar rep who had gone above and beyond to help me. Her manager thanked me for taking the time to share that and promised a kudos for Leslie maybe even a gift.

I could tell that a call like mine was not something he took everyday. He was clearly a little overwhelmed but in a positive way. Leslie made me think about what made her such an exemplary customer service rep. She understood the technology really well and must have learned what she had out of interest. She could talk at length about how the technology of her company differed from that of the competition and that is not part of her job description.

She has a passion for technology, problem solving and for doing the best she can to help a customer which is much more than just doing a job. Leslie is the kind of person who works at a call center because she loves doing what the job entails. She strives to make each call a positive experience for the caller. If my own example was any indication, she must make a lot of disgruntled people happy all that time and she probably finds that very gratifying.

Finally and possibly the most important is her ability to feel like a human being dealing with another. She is able to transcend the script and bring her high emotional quotient to play. Dealing with an irate customer is not very unlike a doctor or nurse dealing with a very sick and cantankerous patient. A good bedside manner is key to success. Leslie was able to diffuse the tension very quickly just as a good healthcare provide is able to calm a patient down.


ggop said...

Was "Lesline" a pseudonym? Some jobs are thankless. You never hear praise, when things break s**t hits the fan.

When some of my previous company's IT moved to Mumbai, it was bit annoying to most employees.

My limited interaction with them was positive. They took care of something and rerouted the ticket to Colorado which then got routed back to California.

The sysadmin who fixed the problem was two aisles down :-)

Anonymous said...

HC, Even with good bedside manner you do have disappointments to be encountered....Facing sad patients ever noticed is the nurse always seen smiling even when you have to give the good hope for a cancer patient going to live for a limited time...the bond between a nurse and patient is more than any business...have no word to describe