I Swore on the Phone With Rogers

December 28, 2010

I just spoke to a Rogers Internet rep (+30 minute wait), and after going through all the options, details and his complete inability to do anything beyond what his computer screen allows him to, I pointed out that: a few years ago I paid for high speed internet and only the internet seed. But now (we all) pay for the speed + bandwidth + overage fees + the modem rental + cancellation fees + downgrade fees + setup fees. Fees for everything, including a damned paper invoice. (oops I swore!)

His reply: “I’m sorry that you feel like that, but that’s how business is done now.
I asked, “How is THAT good customer service?” I mean really, is that the best reply the company has to that? I don’t like it, so sad. Deal with it. I AM A ROBOT; NA NOO NA NOO.

Him: “I’m sorry you don’t like the business changes.
I casually said, “Wow, you guys would never get my as a fu**in customer again.” Totally dissatisfied with their care and concern for the customer. He is just a rep for a company that wants to take all your money so I wasn’t upset with him. His computer doesn’t have a CARE or a THINK INDEPENDENTLY  button on it.

He immediately said, “Sir don’t talk like that!” Wow, he just raised his voice at me and told me what to do!
I sternly replied, “Excuse me, You don’t tell me what to do. You’re NOT my mother.” Actually, my mother doesn’t even tell me what to do. She is nice and asks.

Him: “If you can’t keep it professional then I will not be able to help you. You called ME for help, right?” Fair enough, and good point. I DID call him but I also was not swearing AT him either.

Me: “Yes but you can’t tell people what to do.” Let’s be realistic. That was a poor judgement call for both of us – my swear and his reaction to is.

Him: “If you can’t be professional then I will have to talk to the account holder only.” Fine, obviously this will never arrive an eye-to-eye conclusion.

Me: “It’s not professional to tell people what to do. Here Harold, he doesn’t want to talk to me because I am a dick.” This is me giving the phone to the account holder, letting (him) know that I don’t think we are not going to resolve our little cat fight while acknowledging that I was not being professional. Childish use of the dick work on my part.

HIS POINT: Don’t swear at him; be professional in a professional call.
MY POINT: Don’t tell me what to do. If you don’t like my language then say that. The appropriate response for my use of the F word would be something like:

Sir, I understand you were not swearing AT me, but I still need to ask if you could avoid that word for the rest of this call.

Sir, I would appreciate it if we could continue this conversation without use of that word.

He went through training on how to deal with pushy jerks like me and I can only assume they’re taught things that I consider less effective. The most effective way to diffuse an angry customer is to take blame away and empathize with them. Not battle, boss, dictate or otherwise inflame the situation. Empathy doesn’t mean tolerating verbal abuse or giving things that aren’t possible to give. It just means that you redirect their anger away from YOU and into the thing that upset them, such as poor pricing. “I’m sorry you are not happy with the pricing. Unfortunately I don’t have control over pricing and so my hands are tied on that matter.

Also, in that training, as well as his own life experiences, has he not learned to recognize when someone is not swearing at him? I randomly dropped an f-bomb into a sentence. I did not say hey, F-you or F-Rogers. The F word is an expression used to intensify the subject matter. I should have said “Wow, you guys would never get me as a customer again.” without the f-bomb and I recognize my poor choice of words.

Being professional is a two way street – the company rep needs to be professional enough to not take the ranting customer personally. If someone is attacking you on the phone and cussing their face off, you have to be able to recognize that person is just venting. He doesn’t know who you are and he poses no threat. When someone is venting there is no logical reasoning with them, and anything you say to them while they’re into it will not be as effective as it would if you just waited for them to stop or slow down.

When the angry customer demands you to respond to their raging commentary you have to respond properly or it will turn into an endless cycle. “Sir/Ma’am, it’s obvious you’re very upset and I can understand that. I know you’re not mad at ME personally and I want to be able to help you out. To do that it would make me feel a lot better if we were not using angry voices with each other. Would you like to take a break from this call and try again later, or do you want to stay on the line?” This statement covers many of the bases and removes them from the blame of the call getting out of control – even if it IS their fault. It points out that you’re willing to help and that you understand their anger is not offending you, which makes you agreeable. You’re also letting them know that the angry voices are not effective for this call. Then you let them off the hook by offering them a chance to call back when they’re sane, or choosing to calm down now and continue.

These are my thoughts on this (for now). I could go on and on but there are so many scenarios to script for, but the bottom line is that as a call centre rep you need to consider the customer’s emotions before you consider the company’s policies. People make emotional choices all the time. If we were logical all the time the world would be very different.

1 Comment
December 29, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

Rogers probably has the worst customer service in the business. They have absolutely have no standards when it comes to hiring customer service reps. I wonder if any training exists for these reps once hired by Rogers.

Some thoughts on the (obvious) importance of customer service.

Four to five years ago, when you had a distasteful customer service experience, you told a few friends and maybe some of your co-workers and maybe a few more people in your circle. Your bad experience story didn’t have the vehicle to travel too far and thus could’t really have such a terrible effect on the reputation of the company behind the costumer service department. Things have changed drastically!

These days, if you have a bad customer service experience, you don’t call a friend, or email your cousin, you go right to Facebook (at least me and thousands of others do) and share it with whoever you’re connected to. This usually starts a discussion between your Facebook friends and causes friends, and friends of friends to comment on your story, and raises awareness about the company which you had the bad experience with. Awareness is great, but not this kind of awareness. Within a few days, hundreds or evan thousands of people will be exposed to your bad customer service story. Weeks go by and you realize that hundreds or thousands of people totally side with you and your story, so you take it to the next level…. YouTube. You create a video of yourself sharing your horrible experience with this particular company, waring people not to do business or deal with this company. The video goes viral. The company in question has a major problem on their hands now.

We used to have to write a letter and wait months for a response that sounded like this: We apologize for your inconvenience and work hard to satisfy all our customers…. blah blah blah. Those days are gone. CEO’s, business owners and managers have to respond instantly to issues like these, or their reputation can be ruined for quite a while or even forever.

Customer service is the new marketing in this connected age, and Rogers totally doesn’t get that.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: