Monday, 14 February 2011

Report - Scoop Reports on Telephone Technical Support


It was 2 days before Christmas, bloody cold and Scoop's central heating had broken down!

Initial investigations indicated that the source of the problem was a fault with the remote "Digistat Thermostat".  A frustrating search for a user manual proved fruitless so it was with a sense of resignation that Scoop headed for Google to see what help was available.

No web site could be located but after searching a wide range of forums (some very odd) a helpful post provided a phone number for technical support.  Scoop was cautiously optimistic when seeing the 0845 number but was not holding out much hope when his chilled fingers dialled the number at 8.55am.

The call was answered by a blunt sounding recorded message which did not seem to provide the name of the organisation but did inform him he was next in the queue, Scoop was becoming sceptical!   Suddenly the call was answered - by a human - a man - who spoke English!  Things were looking up!

Scoop did his best to explain the problem but no matter how hard he tried it always seemed to sound confusing.  At this point the operator offered an unexpected lifeline:
"Don't worry, I think I can understand your problem and I am sure I will be able to help, let me ask a couple of questions..."
It was still freezing but Scoop was beginning to feel a warm glow!

Judging by the questions he was asking the operator seemed to know what he was talking about:
"Can you see a red light on the control panel?"
- Yes replied Scoop enthusiastically!
"Looks like it needs to be reset, it's a simple procedure and I can talk you through this."

The operator proceeded to guide Scoop through the minefield of resetting a digital thermostat with ease and at the end, hey presto the boiler sprang into life!  This guy is bloody good thought Scoop.  All was well in the world.

Not quite!   Within an instant the red light re-appeared, the boiler went out again.  Scoop explained this to his new best mate who once again replied with reassurance:
"Ok, it could be a couple of issues, I will need to transfer you to my colleague in Technical but they will be able to sort this out for you."

Scoop waited patiently on hold (no music) but by now had confidence that these guys were genuinely trying to help.  He was in for a surprise  The technical expert answered bluntly and the conversation was as follows:

TECHNICAL!
- Oh hello, I have just been speaking to one of your colleagues about my thermostat problem.
YEAH.
- Has he explained my problem to you?
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.
- Well I have been speaking to your colleague who was very helpful.  I was hoping he had passed on the details to you rather than having to go over them all again.
THERE IS NO NEED TO GET STROPPY WITH ME!
- I am not getting stroppy I simply have a problem with my digital thermostat,  your colleague managed to get this working but the warning light has re-appeared so he has passed me on to you.
I KNOW KNOTHING ABOUT THIS SIR, I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT THERMOSTAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT

The exchange continued on this theme for a short time with Scoop eventually hanging up in frustration (and still cold).

Scoop dialled the number again, the call was answered by another member of staff who was as helpful as the first and who gave some excellent advice on how best to rectify the problem.  The solution worked and the problem was solved within a maximum of 2mins.


Observations:
What strikes you most about this example is how two people working for the same organisation can have such differences in their desire to help the customer. 

It is important to note that the first member of staff did not solve the problem but seemed to have a genuine willingness to do so.  We can learn something from this man, the importance of providing reassurance at the start of the call:
"Don't worry, I think I can understand your problem and I am sure I will be able to help..."
Remember this is a customer who was cold, frustrated, sceptical and who also gained a negative impression from the automated message at the outset.  Yet this simple, reassuring response completely changed the customer's negative mindset.

Organisations quite rightly focus on speed of answer and good call greetings but this example demonstrates the power of our response to a customer's request.  This response is in fact far more important than the way we answer a call, something which is often overlooked within many telephone centres.

As for the technical guy, he was arrogant and rude but this kind of bluntness is in my experience not uncommon within the technical environment.  There appears to be an assumption that the customer is a nuisance or is looking for an argument. 

These guys may have technical expertise but they often misjudge a customer. They fail to understand that it is their responsibility to lead the customer to a solution, not to cross examine them.

Would training help this individual?  I doubt it.  I am fairly sure he knows what he should be doing, he simply chooses not to do it.  Training will not change him but the recession might!


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