Monday, 19 September 2011

Bullying phone calls?

I posted a call recording of a sales call from Sky a while ago. What was interesting was the responses on this blog - with many people praising me but also quite a few accusing me of bullying. I am not saying I will change my ways, but the comments were interesting, and in my defence he called me and had some brain dead policy he was trying to follow. But still, interesting.

Now last week I had to tackle this from the other side! Someone calling my staff and bullying them. Seen from another viewpoint things always look a tad different. Obviously, on this occasion I can't post the recordings.

The plan is to try and work out better ways to handle such calls. Generally the staff are damn good at keeping their head, and clearly they were caught off guard this time.

The problem is people with "complaints for the sake of it" where they don't actually have any outcome in mind or any idea what they want - they just want to complain!

In this case, someone put on hold for several minutes while we tried to get an answer to his question. He wanted to complain about it. Well, I assume the only way to handle that is "Sorry you were on hold, your complaint is noted, anything else I can help you with?". That is what we'll try next time. Is that right?

The problem is when someone is saying "I was on hold for more than 3 minutes - do you really consider that an acceptable time to be on hold? Well do you?" and so on. Then demanding to know who was asking who what, and who is who's boss and so on. And then wanting to complain about the way his complaint was being handled. What is weird is he refused to actual explain his original query! If he had then that could have been answered right away by the manager he was talking to.

Somehow we need to have ways to defuse the issue I guess.

As for being on hold I suspect we just need expectation management, such as "It may take several minutes to find an answer for you - are you happy to hold or shall I call you back?"...

It was probably just as well he did not get though to me though as I do not handle such callers well :-)

If any of our customers do have issues like this - do just drop us a [polite] email. If many people complain about the same thing then it will have to be taken a lot more seriously than a ranting phone call. I have several IT firms we deal with where the MD will give me a ring to say when they hear issues from our mutual customers, though thankfully they also call when someone says what a wonder job has been done. They don't rant, they call as a courtesy so I know there are issues.

Hmm - maybe this is one of "RevK's rants" that is saying "Don't rant"... Oh dear!


  1. 3 minutes? I've been on hold for 30 minutes with some ISPs...

    What we generally do is if the query can't be answered immediately, take the number and call back when it can. In some cases we email responses too (not everyone can conveniently be called back).

  2. As they say a coin always has two sides.

    Employees are generally good, they generally want and try to do a good job and this is based on the tools they have to hand, training they have had and information given (both by supplier and customer).

    Customers are generally good and it's based on a similar criteria but also strongly on their perspective of the situation and the people's intentions/competence they are dealing with.

    So to look at a recent experience with your favourite telco - what is most likely misinformation/error was assumed to be intentional fraud and lots of fun was had with the armchair lawyer debate, especially when the word ethics came into play. Had the coin been on the other side and your employee had said the wrong date through misinformation would the reaction have been the same?

    From your customer perspective, what was his mood for the day, his expectations? How had the fault reflected on him to his customer...or was it just someone trying to feedback what they saw as a "taste of your own medicine"

  3. Expectation management, yes.

    But you're right that some customers just want to complain. I used to find in a rather different (and face-to-face) customer service environment that sometimes the worst thing you can do, from their perspective, is to solve the problem - because then they have nothing to complain *about*...

  4. That's why it's always good to record your conversations.
    call recording

  5. I don't normally moderate posts except for the occasional duplicate, but keep putting your call recording link on comments and they will stop appearing :-)

  6. This is an example of where call recording is really worth while