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August 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 3
Ask the Experts

Outrageous Interactions in the Contact Center

By Tim Passios,
Director of Product Management, Interactive Intelligence

In the 18 years I’ve been in the contact center industry, I’ve heard my share of strange stories and even had a few of my own to share. However, the Outrageous Interactions promotion has opened my eyes to a new generation of oddity. It’s true that everyone has a story. Good, bad, or ugly, we all have one.

Throughout this promo, I’ve asked you to send me your most outlandish tales. And though many of them take me back to conversations I remember having as an agent, some of them are just plain scary. It’s amazing what agents are subjected to. I’ve had submissions from people telling me about being asked out for dates, tales of the unfaithful, and the occasional pub crawl. Our last article shared a submission where a contact center agent found “happily ever after” as a result of a customer call (talk about great service!). This story, however, takes us back to the land of oddity where we find double meanings rule the world of technology.

As a technical support agent for an Internet service provider I receive some pretty absurd phone calls from customers needing help. In fact, most of the calls I deal with are probably more astonishing than absurd. However, several weeks ago I received a call that I won’t soon forget.

“I’m having some issues with my Internet connection,” the caller said. “I admit it I have an infatuation with the tabloid Web sites. I love to read about all the celebrities, what they’re doing, who’s breaking up with whom, and who’s in a downhill spiral. Guilty as charged. But for some reason today, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get those Web pages to show! What do I need to do?”

Trying to think through the issue with her, I asked her if she had already cleared her cache. At first there was a pause and then she replied in a very upset tone, “When I signed up for service with your company, I was told technical support was free! Why and how can you get away with asking me for all of my cash?”

Although, it took everything I had to keep from laughing, I calmly explained to the caller what cache was and why I was asking her to clear it. Once her cache was cleared we attempted to open the pages again, but still without success. It seemed that no matter what site we tried, we couldn’t get connected.

After a few other ill-fated attempts to get her up and running, I decided to have her shut down her machine completely and reboot. So I asked her to go ahead and close all of her windows before restarting her machine. Suddenly, it sounded like the phone had dropped to the floor and the other end became awfully silent. Before long, I heard a commotion in the background. There was a lot of stomping around and slamming. Not knowing what else to do, I held on for the several minutes it took for her to return to the phone!

She was out of breath when she said, “All of my windows are closed, upstairs and down. What’s next?” Of course I was completely choked up over this and I’m sure my voice went a pitch higher as I explained that we were closing down the windows on her computer and not the windows in her house!

Get us your story!

It’s not too late to submit your story. Our next few articles will be showcasing some of the best or at least some of the wackiest submissions.

The Interactive Intelligence “Outrageous Interactions” promotion invites agents and managers alike to submit stories of your most memorable customer phone call, voice mail, email, 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 the end of August 2008; the winning entrant will be announced in September. 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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