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July 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 2
Ask the Experts

Love, Call Center Style

By Tim Passios,
Director of Product Management, Interactive Intelligence

One of the most reliable ways we gain knowledge is by learning through others' experience. Since the launch of the Outrageous Interactions promotion, I have been flooded with zany stories. I've been in the call center industry for some time now and have encountered my fair share of absurdity. Even so, I did not predict some of the interactions that have been described. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you one of the recent submissions. This is an experience we can all benefit from.

I'm a manager for a help desk. One day my agent received a call from a customer who had some concerns with her phone. However, he was unable to provide a resolution. So, the agent confirmed the caller's contact details and redirected the issue to me. Not knowing the specific issue she was having with her phone, I called the customer back. I have a feeling I should have waited.

When she answered the phone, she was completely bouncing of the walls. I was having some trouble calming her down. I hadn't even given her the reason I was calling or my name, but that didn't matter since she already had several names picked out for me. After about five minutes of listening to her tirade, I was about to lose it. I raised my voice telling her to calm down or I would have to hang up. All of the sudden, she said "who is this?"

There was a good minute of silence on her end as I explained that I was the representative calling back about her phone issue. It was so quiet in fact that I had to ask, "Are you still there?" She sheepishly replied "Yes." She proceeded to apologize profusely for her behavior and explained that she had been having the worst day.

Her dog was sick, she stubbed her toe, she had locked her keys in the car, and to top things off when she tried to call the locksmith her telephone started acting up. I kind of wanted to laugh, but thought better of it. Seems all she really needed was an outlet and I provided that by just listening.

Soon she was calm and I was able to assist her with her telephone issue. In no time flat, I had the problem resolved and she was another satisfied customer sent on her way… or so I thought.

A few weeks later an agent transfers a call to me. It was her! Unbeknownst to me, she had saved my number on her caller ID. She called to thank me for my patience and kindness during our call a few weeks back. Of course, I responded with "That's my job and I'm always happy to help." Then she asked me out for coffee!

Well, one crazy phone call, a few cups of coffee, and three years later she's my wife.

What's Your Story?

No matter how much we try to prepare ourselves for the wacky, the weird, the unexpected, we don't always achieve it. However, it's those outrageous moments that become some of our best stories.

Everybody has a story to tell. Tell us yours!

The Interactive Intelligence "Outrageous Interactions" promotion invites agents and managers alike to submit stories of your most memorable customer phone call, voice mail, e-mail, letter, or web chat. If our panel of judges selects your story as the most outrageous, you'll win a 5-day/4-night trip to Hawaii. Seriously. (Or win $500 if you submit the winning "referral" story of another agent of manager.)

For entry information and Official Rules, visit http://www.outrageousinteractions.com. Enter through August 31, 2008; the winning entrant will be announced on or about September 30. Some of the stories may even be published in this space in the coming months, so happy writing.

Tim Passios is Director of Solutions Marketing for Interactive Intelligence Inc. and has more than 17 years experience in the contact center industry. Interactive Intelligence is a leading provider of IP business communications software and services for the contact center and the enterprise, with more than 3,000 installations in nearly 70 countries. For more information, contact Interactive Intelligence at mailto:[email protected] or (317) 872-3000.

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