I was reminded of this story reading about firing the customer. I was part of a team that handled repeat callers; basically, if a customer had to call us twice within 2 weeks about the same issue, the call would get routed to our team first. We had some advantages like slightly higher pay, more actual options to help the customer, direct line to HQ if we needed to escalate, etc. The only downside was that the shitty customers that kept calling would primarily end up talking to members of our team. It was a team of about 12 people and some customers were known by all of us.
The customer in question was an insufferable elderly man. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a medical issue that made him as insufferable as he was and we did genuinely feel kind of bad for him, but if you were the one to take his call, your day was pretty much ruined.
It began with him calling customer service with vague complaints about the quality of service, in particular his landline. The sound quality would often be bad when he used it and according to him his internet connection also dropped frequently. Customer service couldn’t find anything wrong with the connection, but he kept calling in to complain and ended up at our department.
He went through the regular troubleshooting flows, we had mechanics sent round to replace his hardware and lay new cables, yet his problems persisted. We were pretty much at our wit’s end, since every call this customer would state his issue and then just keep rambling about unrelated things, from what job he used to have to the music that we used when he was put on hold, he would talk about anything and everything without stopping. Troubleshooting his issues was probably about 80% trying to interrupt him to keep him on topic and every conversation one of us had with him would on average take about an hour. Interrupting him also wasn’t easy, because more often than not he’d just talk over you.
When the obvious solutions we could try without much help from him didn’t work, it became impossible. We’d need to compile a dossier of his complaints with specific times his service malfunctioned. We kept trying to get him to collect these examples and failing. He’d always call back without any new information, each time more obviously agitated that his problems weren’t addressed. It was at this point that he also started to get more rude; never anything over the top, but just stating that we were too dumb to fix his issue or that we didn’t care.
After this had gone on a couple of months, several members of the team (myself included) had become so frustrated with the man that whenever he called, we’d interrupt and talk over him, trying to get him to cooperate. This would then quite quickly turn into an argument, both of us talking over each other until one of both parties would hang up. Eventually, a coworker took about 90 minutes out of his day to convince this man to end his subscription with us (without the penalty for a breach of contract) and cancelled his connection within five days (deliberately that quickly, because then he has no option to reverse the cancellation).
We pretty much all cheered after the coworker finished the call, praising him and just generally being thankful we wouldn’t have to talk to this customer again. Of course, the joke was on us; the guy kept calling, about his final invoice, about returning the hardware and simply because he’d forget we weren’t his ISP anymore. It took about another month for him to stop calling. I do hope the guy has better luck with his new ISP.