You don’t want to hear those words when you’re taking your very first driver’s test. You don’t want to hear them when you’re presenting your thesis, getting a smog check or awaiting blood test results. And you sure as heck don’t want to hear them after calling a customer support line and requesting help.

However, that’s basically what one man was told when he contacted customer service after losing his credit card. His article, posted on the American Civil Liberties Union website, reveals how a simple and straightforward customer service call devolved when the caller’s response to a computer-generated survey failed to please the CPU gods, even though the answer was listed as a valid response.

Unfortunately, the answer not only halted the computer process that would help the customer support rep issue a new credit card to the customer, but it flustered the rep, who then uttered the words, “you failed the test.”

Insert Buzzer Sound Here

Life would be much easier if we had a rewind button for all of our mistakes, but much to our dismay, no inventor has yet been able to DVR the drama that is our lives – though that hasn’t stopped FuseDesk from trying!  And contrary to popular belief, it’s a little harder for most of us to actually insert our feet into our mouths than previously thought.

So in the words of Jack Black in School of Rock, you’ve got to “use your brain, your head, and your mind too.”  Y’know, think before you speak.  Whether or not a computer is functioning properly or there’s a pop-up message full of exclamation points and error messages on your screen, you’ve got to imagine what it’s like to be on the other side of the call.  Rather than making a customer out to be an invalid by insinuating failure, apologize for the delay, ask if the customer can quickly be put on hold and rectify the situation as soon as possible.

Many customers are average people just like you who would like to move on with their days, not sit with phone to ear waiting for you to fix a problem that is not their fault.  If you run into a similar situation with a frozen computer or halted process, offer to call the customer right back once the computer is up and running again – or once you speak to your supervisor about how to proceed.  And make sure to follow through so the customer doesn’t have to start from scratch by calling in again and speaking to another rep.

Plan Ahead

Like a good scout leader, a plan of action is necessary for all sorts of situations that can occur in your call center.  For instance, what should your customer support reps do if they get disconnected with a customer?  What if they have a bad phone connection with a customer using a cell phone?  What if their computer freezes in the middle of an order?

If your team doesn’t have a dedicated set of plans for situations that could potentially arise in the workplace, they’ll be left to their own devices.  And while some are able to calmly think on their feet, always placing the customer first, many will falter on their own without a plan.

Discuss which kind of circumstances are necessary for escalating calls, placing customers on hold and making outgoing follow-up calls.  And remind your reps that failure is not an option – at least not where talking to your customers is concerned!