Thriving Under Fire Blog

Computers can't do customer service...

Posted by John Faisandier on Jun 21, 2015 10:04:24 PM

smashing laptop Computers just don't get it!

A newspaper recently reported that an Auckland company has spent the last two years developing a programme that could predict why a Contact Centre caller is angry and what the employee might do or say in response. The computer analysed thousands of calls and has generated a huge number of possible responses. The Call Centre person just has to put the caller on hold and consult the computer for an answer. There are two major flaws to this process.

  1. Putting someone on hold when they are angry will only make them angrier. What anyone wants on the end of a phone is a real person, a human being who is present to them, who can hear them and their distress, however they might express it. Putting them on hold will only increase the time they have already waited to reach a human being and lead to greater frustration, which the smart computer may or may not pick up.
  2.  When someone is upset; stop and listen to them. You don’t have to come up with a solution to their problem immediately, you just have to listen and acknowledge what they are feeling. The solution can come later when they have calmed down and are able to work through things rationally with you.

Difficulties arise because very few people get adequate training in how to make an appropriate response to angry customers. When someone is angry you are affected by them. You might be tempted to argue with them (fight) or go quiet and - inside at least - withdraw (flight). Neither of these reactions is helpful. This is called the fight/flight response.

The most useful thing to do is calm yourself down and acknowledge their distress, their emotion. You could say something like: “this is very distressing for you” or “I’m sorry that it has taken you a long time to get through.” This needs to be said in a genuine way, really mean it.

A computer can’t show empathy. Even if it comes up with the right words, upset human beings need another human being to acknowledge them, see their distress and express some words or sounds that indicate they have been seen.

The most useful thing to do is calm yourself down and acknowledge their distress, their emotion. You could say something like: “this is very distressing for you” or “I’m sorry that it has taken you a long time to get through.” This needs to be said in a genuine way, really mean it.

A computer can’t show empathy. Even if it comes up with the right words, upset human beings need another human being to acknowledge them, see their distress and express some words or sounds that indicate they have been seen.

Topics: customer service, Acknowledge Feelings, Emotion, Physical Reactions, Upset People, Difficult customers, Emotions, Listening

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