It used to be a regular occurrence, my phone would buzz an internal call and the receptionist would ask me if I could take a call from a customer who was distressed. The caller needed someone else who wasn’t available, or had not been able to explain what was needed so the call was routed to me.
Unless I was due in a meeting, I would always take the call. Even when I knew that I would not be able to immediately resolve the caller’s direct issue. I could act in the service of this Spanish phrase, calor humano, and thereby begin to relieve the caller’s distress.
First, I could listen and ask gentle probing questions to underscore to the caller that – as recorded voices in corporate voicemail loops like to assure us all – ‘their call was important to me’ in a truly meaningful manner. Distressed people want to get the sense that their concerns are being listened to, and with these questions I could do so. Together, the caller and I could clearly define their issue as well as the expectations for resolution – these acts didn’t require specific knowledge of the customer on my part to start on the path to resolution.
All that was really required on my part was an ability to convey empathic listening and identification of distress. Plus a repetition of my understanding of the issue and enumeration of a follow up plan, or the next steps.
In all these types of calls in the years that I took them, I only had one person who was offended that I was not the right person to immediately resolve her issue. Every single other person got off the call breathing more calmly and expectant of eventual positive results. Because I offered human warmth specific to their moment of need.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations