A Different Take on Difficult Customers

Call centre helper A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be in London for a few days with my wife, and I met up briefly with Jonty Pearce who edits Call Centre Helper magazine in the UK. Jonty and I enjoyed a follow up conversation over the phone. If you're unfamiliar with his on-line magazine, it's worth bookmarking and making frequent visits.

I loved their current article on how we respond to difficult customers. After writing a few posts of my own on some practical ideas to use with difficult customers, I appreciated Christine Knott's psycho analytical take on the subject. I believe we can learn a lot from looking at the same subject from different perspectives and disciplines.

Christine shares that, when faced with a difficult customer, we often unconsciously revert to one of three "ego states":

Parent ego state: represents the occasions when during conversations we respond in a manner that copies the behaviours and actions of parental or influential figures from our lifetime. Can you recall instances when you’ve heard yourself thinking ‘I sound just like my mother/father/teacher’? You are reflecting and copying their behaviour.

For example, during a conversation a person may display anger by shouting at someone because they learnt from an early age that when the parent shouts the child takes notice.

Adult ego state: represents the occasions when during conversations we draw on our lifetime of experiences as an adult to guide us objectively to a positive outcome. When we are in our Adult state we see, hear and respond to people as they really are, and have an understanding of why they are reacting as they do, rather than accepting at face value the way they choose to communicate.

For example, if during a telephone call our organisation is criticised we would respond with a calm, logical response which aimed at reducing or removing the emotion from the discussion in order to resolve issues in a logical and factual manner. We would adopt this state having learnt throughout our lifetime that shouting, sulking, answering back or other emotional states will detract from our ability to reach a solution, and extend the time needed to reach it.

Child ego state: represents the occasions when during conversations we revert to behaving, feeling and thinking similarly to how we did in childhood.

For example, during a conversation a person who receives criticism may react as they did in their childhood when they were reprimanded. This reaction may take on an emotional form, crying, sulking, answering back or perhaps feeling ashamed or angry.

I'm reflecting on conversations I had yesterday, and I can identify all three ego states in my reactions to different people.

How about you?

QAQnA Named Among Best Call Center Sites!

Call_centre_helper I just received word today that QAQnA was named in the Top 10 Call Center sites by Call Centre Helper magazine in the U.K. I sent a quick note to the editor, Jonty Pearce, to let him know that we’re humbled by the honor.

A big thank you to all of our readers and subscribers! As we close in on our 2nd Blogaversary, we are commited to continue providing quality content and stimulating conversation about Customer Service, Quality Assessment and Call Center issues.


Liz Strauss @ Panera!

I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of meeting up with Liz Strauss yesterday at a Panera in downtown Chicago. It was then that  Liz confided in me that it was her first time in a Panera! The Blogga Nostra would be shocked and amazed by this revelation – but I was pleased to provide Liz with her first experience at our favorite blogger meeting place, and get a picture to document the occasion!

I don’t think anyone in the blogosphere needs an introduction to Liz (all you have to do is Google "liz" and you’ll find her at number four or five out of 46 million hits), whose open mic nights have introduced me to and allowed me to connect with many wonderful persons/bloggers like Christine Kane and Chris Cree, just to name a few of my favorites. Liz’s reputation as "the nice one" was fully realized in our time together – and I learned that I could add – "the intelligent one", "the astute one", "the curious one", "the intriguing one", and "the gracious one" to her list of descriptive tag-lines. How amazing that getting to know someone on-line can translate into immediate hugs in person and hours of intense, inspiring conversation.

One of the great things I’ve learned about the blogosphere is that you have the opportunity to connect with incredible people whom you might otherwise never cross paths.

Thanks to Liz, who continues to lead the way for everyone in the blogosphere!

Follow the Experiences of an Outsource CSR

There’s been some lively discussion around here about outsourcing, both positive and negative. In a moment of synchronicity, I came across a new blog, Call Center Hijinks written anonymously by a CSR who is starting a job at a 3rd party call center that takes customer service calls for 6 different companies. Readers in the call center industry might find it interesting following his posts. I hope he keeps posting and begins to allow comments from those of us outside of Blogger.

So far:

  • The call center provided 6 weeks training
  • Training consisted of phone and classroom
  • Everyone passed the test, no matter the score and results were destroyed
  • There was a week "nesting" with trainer, taking about 4 calls a day and coaching on each one
  • "Quality" scores are completely driven by metrics

QAQnA Mug Club Winner: C.B. Whittemore

The first time I read C.B. Whittemore’s blog, I knew:

  • she is a warm, intelligent person
  • she is a great writer
  • she is a passionate service provider
  • she is a creative spirit
  • she needs a coffee mug.

So, C.B. has been awarded the newest member of the QAQnA Mug Club! If you haven’t read Christine’s blog, run – don’t walk – to your feed reader and subscribe.

C.B. joins the ranks with others Mug Clubbers like:
Terry Starbucker
Phil Gerbyshak
Liz Strauss
Maria Palma
Mike Sansone

Blog Tipping – Genuine Curiosity

Blogtipping_2It’s the first of the month. That means it’s time to sneak out into the blogosphere’s pasture and do a little blogtipping!

I’ve been a lurking subscriber at Dwayne Melancon‘s blog, Genuine Curiosity because, well – I was genuinely curious about what he had to say. I’ve been regularly rewarded with a good read. Three things I like about Dwayne’s blog:

  1. There’s a great mix of those little lessons in life. Dwayne pays attention to the details – whether it’s things to do in the middle seat on the airplane to directing people’s attention to the etiquette of figuring out how to turn off the ringer on your cell phone.
  2. Dwayne has a wonderful sense of humor that comes out in his post titles and his writing. I read a lot of blogs that have great content, but they’re a bit – can I be honest about this? – boring in writing style. Dwayne regularly makes me chuckle while giving me good content. I appreciate that.
  3. This is totally a personal preference, but I like the way Dwayne adds visual touches with photography. It’s the way I like to do my own blog and I know that it takes some time, effort and thought to find just the right photo or graphic to compliment the post. I know a lot of readers probably don’t care – but Dwayne, I for one appreciate the extra-mile effort.

One suggestion I would make:

  1. What can I say? I want more! I talk to other bloggers about the optimum frequency of posts and I know there are different thoughts based on the realities of time and life circumstances. Dwayne seems to average a post or two a week. He’s a great writer and I think it would be a good challenge for him, and a welcome addition for his readers, to try to write 2-3 posts per week.

Thanks for writing a great blog, Dwayne!

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Open Mic Night @ Successful Blog

If you’ve not been to open mic night at Liz Strauss’ blog, you’ve got to check it out. Every Tuesday the conversation runs rampant and you’re guaranteed to meet some new and interesting people, like Chris Cree who was propogating ads.

Thanks for the fun opportunity, Liz! See you there next Tuesday as the open mic moves to Tuscany!

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Mug Club Winner – Starbucker!

Blogtip_mugIn a death-defying blogging exercise, we’re going to blog-tip and announce the newest member of the QAQnA Mug Club in one post. Starbucker has become a regular around here and his blog Ramblings from a Glass Half-full is one of my favorites.

Three reasons Starbucker is a winner, and why I love his blog:

  1. Attitude. You gotta love an optimist, and Starbucker often gives me a lift on my cloudy days.
  2. Consistency. I’m always amazed at his steady stream of quality posts and the voracity with which he reads and comments on other blogs. I’ve been preaching that “slow and steady wins the race” in the blogosphere and Starbucker is a pacesetter for me.
  3. Authenticity. I like to get to know the person behind the posts, and one of the things I’ve enjoyed about “The Glass-Half Full” is the way Starbucker mixes in both the business and the personal. I think his “Sunday Paper Edition” is a stroke of genius.

One tip I would have for the blog is to hear more (what can I say? I’m insatiable!) I’d like to hear more about what makes you an optimist, or maybe what past experiences made you an optimist. I’d also like to hear more of how optimism frames your life and business in practical ways.

When reading Starbucker’s blog, you’ll get great content, quality links to other blogs he’s reading and all of it written with his indomitable spirit!

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It’s Blogtipping Day!

Blogtipping_1This month I’d like to blog-tip Steve Rucinski at Small Business CEO. I stumbled upon Steve’s blog over a month ago and I’ve enjoyed lurking and reading his posts ever since.

Three things I like about Small Business CEO:

  1. His content is "on target". As a small business owner, I appreciate the range of material he brings to the table that is both interesting and beneficial.
  2. I appreciate the resources, especially the small business related podcast links and a veritable plethora of quality business links on his blog roll.
  3. He’s focused. It’s funny because I tend to appreciate bloggers who have a bit more personal touch with their blogs and share on a wide range of material. The problem with that is I’m sometimes not sure from post to post if it will be relevant to me. I’ve found that there’s a comfort in checking out Steve’s posts and always knowing what I’m going to get.

The one tip I would have for Small Business CEO is what appears to be some kind of technical glitch. Whenever I pull up the blog in Explorer the posts are all blurry – almost like it’s a jpeg of a bad fax. It doesn’t do this with Firefox, but I’m usually surfing in Explorer (I know, I know, give me 50 lashes with a Cat 5 cable).

Kudos to Steve on his longevity! Happy Blogtipping Day!

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