Bertha at Charter Communications – the cable company – missed a chance today to give me a good feeling about their company. I was returning Monty’s computer router. Whe she asked why I was returning it, I said that he had died. That was the moment where she could have reached out for some genuine human contact – just a sincere “I’m sorry.” I like to think that I do that consistently, even if someone is referring to their loved one passing a long time ago. It pretty much always seems to create that human touch. But Bertha stayed buried in her computer screen, typing away.
I have heard a lot of criticisms of Charter. This was a chance for Bertha, in this one instance, to soften that impression. Now why did Bertha not respond with human touch, in a situation where that would be so natural and appropriate – and where there was no apparent time pressure (no one behind me)?
- She may actually be under some time pressure – lots of these computers can time a call – or, I’m sure, a face-to-face encounter. I had a job as a call center operator where my supervisor consistently said, “You’re great with the customers – tops – but you’ve got to speed up your calls.”
- She may have recently been told by a supervisor that she’s too chatty with customers, that she should keep it more to business. This also happened to me on another job.
- She may be having a migraine that is making it hard for her to even stand up.
- She may have lost a loved one lately – or is on the verge of losing one – and my mention of a deceased loved one really triggered her.
I could go on and on – there are so many reasons that a customer server could be unresponsive to us. And so many ways this could be helped. It’s a truism that customer support people tend to treat customers as they themselves are treated. Give them respect and compassion and they tend to give it to their customers. That’s not the whole story – there are some bad apples out there – but it’s a good place to start. Helping your managers and supervisors treat others with more respect and compassion has got to be a win all around.