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Be Nice to Your CSR

Just by the nature of the job of a Customer Service Representative, problems and complaints come their way everyday, all day. That's what their job is - to solve peoples' problems. And very often by the time a customer gets to speak with a CSR, he's already what I call "on tilt" meaning that he's either mad at the company he's contacting or at the automated phone system that has asked so many questions, many of which are not relevant to his problem or situation. And then, by the time the CSR comes on the line, the customer is livid. After enough customers have had this same experience, as often as not, the CSR is going to get an earful from a lot of very angry and frustrated customers. The CSR is there to provide assistance, but by this time the customer is out of control. And the CSR is dealing with this kind of hysteria all day long.

I went to a Miami Heat game a few years ago with a friend who had excellent tickets. He had held these seats for many years which, among other things, meant that he had spent thousands and thousands of dollars. And on account of this situation, he felt privileged, and perhaps more important that he actually was. On this one trip to the arena we were having trouble getting in, and had to be directed to the Customer Service Window. And my friend was on full tilt. He walked up to the window, red faced and looking for a fight. The problem stemmed from a situation where my friend's brother had gone online to the Heat office earlier and printed out the tickets, which meant that in the Heat system the tickets were already being used. But the CSR figured this out early and was trying to explain why there was this hang-up. And BTW, he was ready to rectify the problem and allow us into the game. But my friend never let up, berating and bullying the CSR. I didn't let him get away with it. I told him several times to settle down and that the gentleman was just trying to help. There was no reason to get loud, or nasty. I explained that the CSR was there to help and that he would help, and that my friend was being a bully because the CSR could not fight back. He had to take my friend's crap and try to get through the moment. I never forgot that experience It made me feel less accepting of my friend, and I actually thought less of him on account of it.

I hate it when I see someone in a store bullying a clerk because that clerk cannot fight back. I've actually called people on that kind of behavior several times. The clerk needs that job, and might have a family he is supporting, and has to suck it up. It's degrading and humiliating. And to be sure, these customers are bullies, only picking on people who cannot fight back. But I can fight back and I don't mind sticking up for anyone who is being victimized by bullies.

And now to my point. Having witnessed this bullying behavior so many times, even conversations where people have told me how pissed off they were and how they let the clerk have it, I never pass up an opportunity to tell them what jackasses they are. That shuts them up when they learn that I'm so negatively impressed with that behavior.

I always take that lesson to the next level when I am dealing with CSRs. I may have been put through the mill on a telephone romp before speaking with someone, or I may have a problem with a product or situation that I take as serious. But, having learned the lessons of other peoples' experiences, I stay as calm as humanly possible when I finally get the opportunity to speak with a live person. The professional CSR will usually ask how I am, and I'll answer politely, that I'm fine, and ask them how they are. I clearly state why I'm calling, how I'd like to be helped, and ask if there's something they can do to help. It's as friendly a conversation as I can make it, and since the CSR has probably already dealt with some nasty people this day, my friendly and appreciative attitude is a breath of fresh air for them. Often in dealing with tech people, they might ask where I'm calling from, and I'll tell them, and ask where they are. That often throws them a little because people so seldom take an interest in that person, and a friendly, if a little personal conversation is nice for them.

And at the end of the day, I cannot remember a time when that little bit of courtesy and friendliness hasn't paid off with a little extra effort to help me out and a great appreciation for conducting a civilized conversation. And BTW, I always feel better on account of it as well.

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