Learn about common help desk situations and strategies for how to handle them.
- Often, while we are trying to lead our customers, they dwell on the pain of the current issue. What can happen in these situations is they get caught up in their emotions and the story of the situation that it can distract us from our main purpose, resolving the issue. So, we may have to redirect their focus back to what the technical issue is and keep leading them to resolution. We want to acknowledge and listen to their thoughts and feelings, but we have to keep the contact moving. So, now we have a situation where we not only need to lead the customer, we also need to redirect them.
Let's look at a common example of an interaction with a customer who needs to be redirected. In this example, listen for what technician could have done better. - I always have to call about this issue. Why can't you just fix this? It's such a waste of time. - Really? In our system, I don't see any recent contacts from you. Are you sure? - Great. You guys didn't take notes for any of the times I've called. Typical. - Well, it gets really busy, so that sometimes happens. - Maybe this time you could actually fix the problem and note the call. - In this example, the technician got caught up in the customer's frustration and lost the goal of the interaction.
Trying to defend the service desk and correct the customer wastes time and energy, and it makes the service desk look unprofessional. Let's look at an example using the redirect technique to handle this type of interaction more effectively. - I always have to call about this issue. Why can't you just fix this? It's such a waste of time. - I do apologize for the inconvenience. Let's see what I can do. - Well, it ticks me off that I always have to call. I mean, seriously. The software was already messed up, and now it won't load the print menu. I mean, it's pretty useless if I can't print.
- I certainly understand your frustration. It sounds like you're really busy with a lot going on. Let's get you back up and running as quickly as possible. - Did you hear the difference? I sure hope so. The technician wasn't defending the service desk or correcting the customer. She empathized with the emotion and then immediately focused on trying to help the customer get back up and running as quickly as possible. Now, redirecting may not work the first time, or the second time. But you can eventually bring your customer back around to focus on the issue.
- So, every time I try to run this stupid report, I get an error. What the heck is wrong with you guys? It's like you have to change or install something every day. - So, you're trying to print a report and there's an error message, correct? - What did you guys change today? Last week it was the database update that screwed up my reports, this week it's not printing. I swear, I can't even keep up. I mean, do you guys even send out update notices? - I apologize there have been some issues lately. Let's see what we can do to get the report to run properly first, then I can check any other issues, too. What was the error message, again? - Yeah, I need this report yesterday. The error is P101 error.
- Did you hear the difference? This technique does take some practice and fine-tuning to master. The lead can be customized when it's appropriate to use the customer's name and to personalize the contact, and gain their attention. For example, "Brian, it sounds like you're really busy and need to get this report out. I heard you mention an error message saying the page won't print. Is that correct?" In other situations, it might be more appropriate to use an acknowledgement, rather than the customer's name.
Maybe their name is hard to pronounce, or you know the customer and that feels awkward. Then it could sound something more like this, "Wow, you're really busy, and the printer won't work. Is that correct?" The redirecting technique is your friend. Practice it. Use it. Refine it. You'll learn to make it work for you, and use it in a variety of situations. Eventually, with practice, it just becomes part of your toolkit and you use it without even thinking about it. Redirect away.
First, Fancy provides guidance on how to use the right types of questions to gather information about an issue. Then, she explains how to professionally handle common customer service tasks, like escalating and transferring calls. Then, she shows how to hone interactions with customers by refining communications—acknowledging how tone and word choice can diffuse tension. She wraps up by covering common customer behavior scenarios in which the tools, techniques, and strategies from the course can be applied.
- Greeting and validating contacts
- Asking investigative and diagnostic questions
- Confirming and validating responses
- Reaching resolution and closure
- Using mute or hold on a call
- Escalating or transferring a call
- Building rapport over the phone, in writing, and face-to-face
- Refining word choice, style, and tone
- Managing conflict effectively
- Recovering unsatisfied customers
- Redirecting customers
- Identifying customer behavior