Got Tough IT Complaints? Get Results with a Proven Two-Pronged Approach
by Jean Marie Johnson
- “Hey, this is Jake Peters down in Orlando. I'm glad I finally reached you guys. I've got this presentation in an hour. My laptop just froze up; I can't get to anything, and I've got to print some stuff! What do I do now?”
- “Tammy, this is Rose at the Beagletown office. My e-mail still isn't working. I keep losing my connection, I have to close down, start it up again… It's a mess. Why can't we just go back to the program we used to have?”
If you are a Technical Support Rep, or manage a team of technical specialists, these customer comments may fall under the heading of “All in a day's work.” However, for some who find themselves “manning the Help Desk,” these frantic complaints aren't exactly what they bargained for. And they are not alone. The late, great magnate, Henry Ford is known to have lamented “Why is it that every time I hire a pair of hands, I get a human being?” Indeed.
So are these technical problems or human situations? They're both.
The classic examples above poignantly illustrate that there are two dimensions to the problem the Rep is being called upon to address. On the one hand, she has her toolbox of quick and complex fixes with which to remedy the frozen laptop, the errant e-mail. On the other, there's the human who is anxious, frustrated, impatient and wishing for the good old days. And that requires an utterly different “fix.”
If the Rep chooses to do a work-around, a by-pass that avoids the human's experience of the technical problem, guess what? She gets THE HUMAN and then some….. Why is this so? Because you can't disengage the parts; they don't come in a convenient box like auto parts. Sorry Mr. Ford! (The mechanics of a car and the feelings of the human are miles apart.) You get the whole enchilada with the human being. And that means the customer's head, heart, hands, feelings and interpretation of what is going on and what it means to him.
Technical reps are saviors to the many of us who work in a fast-paced, virtual whirlwind of deliverables and deadlines. And when they get what we're going through as we muddle our way through the esoteric of technology, they are invaluable to us. The magic in MAGIC is that it recognizes the human first, providing the skills to connect with that unique combination of head, heart and hands. MAGIC happens when someone delivers a lot of ‘human' common sense in a short period of time. As they said at PepsiCo years ago, “MAGIC is common sense with attitude” Consider the attitude of these head and heart responses:
- “Hey, Jake…this is Tammy…it sounds like the timing couldn't be worse for you. I'm going to workto get you up and going, and get those docs printed out in time for your appointment. I'd like to walk you through a few steps right now. You ready?”
- “Hi, Rose. I know, it's pretty frustrating at times, and this is one of them! I can see why you'd be pretty upset about this happening again. I want to get to the bottom of it for you, Rose. Do you have some time now so that we can do some serious troubleshooting?”
So just how is it that these qualify as head and heart responses, or, common sense with attitude? Here's a rundown of the powerful combination used:
- Establish the tone of the conversation as an interaction, not a transaction by using the caller's name at the first opportunity. Nothing removes the faceless anonymity of the telephone like the use of a person's name.
- Connect with the human experience, the feelings or significance of the problem or issue, by using empathic words expressed with a sincere “I get it!” tone. Reflect what you understand the caller is experiencing while matching your level of urgency with hers.
- Provide a sense of security by offering a clear, direct statement of help. In other words, induce the sigh of relief that comes when a qualified professional says “I'm going to help you with that right now.”
Technical problems wrapped in human situations…responses that begin with the human connection and then proceed to the toolbox.
Alas, Mr. Ford, some things never change. And, shouldn't.
Jean Marie Johnson is a Communico facilitator and has helped clients with their MAGIC initiatives. And for 20 years she has specialized in cultivating the customer experience as a key competitive advantage.