I have led a couple of large customer service call centers in my career. I love the passion and energy that the staff bring to the job every day. Leading call center teams has been one of my highlights as a leader.
Every day, team members sit at their desks and handle hundreds of calls from customers that have a need or some sort of problem. The job can be incredibly stressful at times with unhappy customers that are frustrated with the mother company, the service they were promised or the product’s benefits. The last line of defense is the customer call center.
Sometimes customers are downright pissed off, frustrated or emotionally fed-up. Through no fault of their own, a customer service representative will answer the phone and… Wham! The customer lets them have it!
The very best call center agents in the world don’t take it personally. In fact, they are amazing at defusing the situation and rescuing the poor customer and their situation. It takes a special person, lots of training and lots of experience.
Barring recruiting and hiring these special people from scratch, one of the best things you can do is teach your team members a magical question that I discovered years ago. This question is so simple yet incredibly powerful in putting a pissed off customer at ease and getting to a solution quickly and inexpensively.
You don’t have to be in a customer call center to experience the benefits of using this question. You can be in retail, any service industry, a professional firm … really any business that is customer facing.
The question is simple and requires little training.
Imagine, you are face-to-face with an exasperated customer or client. They are letting you have it. It would be easy to get into a debate and rebut their points. It might not even be your fault. But instead, you patiently listen to what they have to say. You may ask some questions to get a better understanding of the situation. Then, when the customer pauses to take a breath, you calmly say to them:
“I understand how frustrating this must be for you. Can you tell me what good looks like to you for a solution?”
That’s it. The magic question. “What does good look like?” I have found hundreds upon hundreds of times in my life that this simple question instantly puts people at ease and changes their focus from problem to solution. And most of the time, the solution that they begin to tell you about, is usually a great idea, inexpensive and easy to implement.
Try it at home, in the office with colleagues, any place where people want to be heard and helped.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.Call Center, Communication, Customer, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, It's Already Inside, Robert Murray, Robert S. Murray