I worked for awhile at a call center taking payments for apartment rentals.
I answered a call to a very loud, very rude customer just screaming at me because of a payment issue.
He talked over me, interrupted and just generally seemed to want to yell without actually fixing the problem.
I had three pieces of information I needed to confirm in order to make sure I was altering the correct Joe Smith’s account. He kept screaming at every request – saying that he didn’t need to give me the information. That I should be able to look it up for myself.
Which, yes. I could. I actually had used his phone number to pull up his account and had found the problem. Not that he was letting me speak to tell him so.
Finally I cut him off and firmly but politely said;
“Sir? I am being very respectful and I would appreciate the same in return. I see the problem and I can fix it. However I just need to confirm one piece of identifying info so I make sure I’m correcting your account. I would hate to be working on the wrong account because you wouldn’t fully identify yourself and force you to call back again.”
As I say these lines the VP walked by and stopped at my desk. She was known for finding problems with everything and everyone. I did my best to ignore her over my shoulder and finish, but I was sweating now!
He forcefully and loudly stated the information I needed.
“Thank you. Your account is fixed and the late fee removed. Is there…..” ** click ** ……he ended the call.
I took off my headset and looked at the VP, fully expecting “we need to have a conversation with your supervisor. NOW.”
Instead, she looked at my department, who had all stopped working and was watching us, and told the room that “This. This is how we should be handling calls with difficult customers. Thank you, graceinthesouth. I’m going to work this into our training scripts.”
She turned and left leaving us with our jaws on the ground. I was never so relieved that asking a customer for respect gained me the respect of a VP.