We all know what it is like to be on the phone, talking to a customer service representative. Chances are, you’re already frustrated because something went wrong, and now you need to have the problem fixed. That’s why you are calling. Unfortunately, sometimes the experience with the customer service representative feels less than stellar.
Adam Toporek, author of “Be Your Customer’s Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines,” has created a great infographic on this topic. 
Here are some of the things that are known to drive customers up a wall
- Being ignored
- Being abandoned (broken connection)
- Being hassled
- Incompetence (Perceived or real)
- Being shuffled from one department to the next
- Being powerless when trying to talk with a large organization
- Being disrespected
Customer Service Representative, Jessie Gutzwiller, Shares Her Thoughts
Jessie has been working in the customer service industry for the past 30 years. She has also been a customer. Having experience on both sides of the phone line has made her the ideal CSR (Customer Service Representative) for Iceberg Web Design as well as the perfect person to ask about Customer Service “Triggers.”
This happens a lot more in person than on the phone. For example, if you are at a restaurant and the wait staff seems to breeze by without a word. You probably feel ignored. Likewise, if you are in a store and need assistance, but no one seems to notice you. You wonder if anyone knows you’re there. This can be frustrating.
Customers need to feel heard. As a CSR, even if you are busy, it’s imperative that you acknowledge the customer. If you are in person, rather than over the phone, look them in the eyes so that they know you see them. Tell them, “I’m running a bit behind, but I will be right there.”
The telephone equivalent is when you are sitting on hold for an eternity. Again, let the customer know why they are on hold and how long they can expect to wait. It is much easier to be patient when you see the end is in sight.
Being abandoned can happen when a phone connection gets dropped after you’ve just waited on hold for a long time. It can also occur when you expect a follow-up email from CSR, but it never arrives.
Being abandoned can also happen in person. Examples of this include asking someone if an item is in stock. They disappear for 20 minutes, leaving you to wonder if they have forgotten about you. We can again look at the example of a waitress. This time, they seem to forget that you are waiting for refills or even the check.
A good CSR will read back the email and a phone number you have given them to ensure they have the right one. This way, if you get disconnected, they can get ahold of you, and you don’t have to go through the often arduous process of dialing back in. They will also reply to each message or email you leave to assure you that they are looking into the issue. If you are in-person, a good CSR will check back if they are gone for a while.
When you talk to a customer service representative, whether in person or over the phone, you want to be heard. Even if they can’t do anything about the problem, the last thing you want is to have things turned around on you. No one wants that. That is “being hassled.” Anytime a customer is treated like they are the problem, it is being hassled.
A good CSR will let the customer vent their frustrations and listen with understanding. The customer is never wrong. That’s an important axiom to remember in customer service. Jessie Gutzwiller, the CSR at Iceberg, told me that people would rather have the best waitress and bad food than the best food and a bad waitress.
Incompetence (Perceived or real)
Another customer trigger is incompetence. It doesn’t even have to be real incompetence, but if a customer believes that you don’t know how to do your job, they will be disappointed and perhaps even irate. It’s okay not to have the solution to the problem or the answer to their question, but at least try to find it.
Customers will often perceive that a CSR is incompetent not because they are, but because they are lazy, unmotivated, or even hung-over. You need to be on the customer’s side and try to find a solution to their problem as if the problem was your own.
Being shuffled from one department to the next
Sometimes this can’t be helped. They may have called the wrong store or the wrong department. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t help. Maybe they have a general question that you can answer without pushing them off onto someone else. If you must transfer them, apologize and explain why you need to transfer their call.
Like in the second customer trigger, “Being Abandoned,” you will want to give them a direct number to the person they should talk to if their call gets dropped. Offer a choice between being transferred or getting a return call. By being patient and willing to help, you will show your customers that you are more than competent.
Being powerless when trying to talk with a large organization
Large organizations became successful for a reason, so they must have something going well for them. It’s essential that you avoid ever telling a customer what you can’t do for them. Instead, let them know what you can do.
One example is when someone calls asking for help with their Wix site. We only work with WordPress, so what is our CSR to do? She can ask around for someone who works with Wix and get back to them. This is going the extra mile, considering they aren’t a customer of ours. But it’s important to treat everyone who calls with the same blue-ribbon service.
This final customer service trigger may be the most important one. Everyone you encounter deserves respect. It can be difficult, though, when they are rude and disrespectful to you. When that happens, it is time to put up clear boundaries.
For example, if you have a customer who is swearing at you over the phone, the temptation will be to either dish it back to them or hanging up. Instead, muster all your self-control and say, “I need you to stop swear at me, or I will have to hang up.” At that point, the ball is in the customer’s corner. They can calm down, or they can continue their tirade. You have told them the consequences, so you are now obligated to follow through.
The Joy of Customer Service
Thankfully, most customers are great. They share stories with us that make us laugh, and they are usually very appreciative of the efforts we make to help them out. We would love to help you out with all of your business needs. Our customer service representative, Jessie, handles our support and maintenance plans and customers love her. If you aren’t already a customer and would like to experience the Iceberg difference, contact us today! Read more about customer’s experiences!
 Toporek, Adam. “Customer Service Infographic: What Are the 7 Service Triggers?” Adam Toporek Keynote Speaker of Customers That Stick®, 14 June 2019, customersthatstick.com/blog/customer-service-infographic-what-are-the-7-service-triggers/.