Friday, August 15, 2008

Unprofessional Support-Fu, Let's Talk about It

Check this out. A 22-minute call from an angry customer to the Astro customer service. Most people would say that the customer was being unreasonable and having unbalanced hormones. But I have a different opinion -- that's very bad customer service by Astro.

I am a nasty and very-nice customer, it all depends on the issue am having and how the personnel speaks to me (of course, the same to most people too). I always dial the hotlines whenever I have something to complain or to inquire or I feel that I need to talk a bit with someone on a good afternoon. Always, really. To the extent that my colleagues questioned me a few times if I was simply too free.

At the same time, for the past 2 years, I worked on two support projects, providing technical support to customers around the globe. I was trained and I was also responsible to train new guys to come into this field.

My experiences with TM and Astro were usually bad. And what would I say for this case? Terribly handled. This case could be resolved in 2 to 3 minutes and it was ridiculous to drag it 'til more than 22 minutes 31 seconds.

To handle this emotional customer, Jeeva should:
  1. Apologize for the misunderstanding ("that's your problem, I can't..")
  2. Not question / argue with the customer, there's no rationality at another end dude. Be polite and say "I'm sorry" to calm her down, and bring her back to the point. What do the customers need? Solution.
  3. Not keep quiet to dilly-dally the call.
  4. Escalate! Or maybe not, because it would have been settled if Jeeva had better support-fu.

I always like the Atlassian's core value #3 - "Don't fuck the customer." Seriously don't. If you ever want to do it, do it in the nice way.

- yc, bloody hell.


Unknown said...

What a tense moment there! I think the CSR guy should've asked someone with authority to jump into the conversation before things started to turn butt ugly.

Most of the time, the third person can easily lessen the tension to a state where both parties are willing to compromise/listen.

The CSR, saying "That's your problem" isn't smart at all, although I do feel sorry for him that he has to put up with such a rude and unreasonable customer.

Anonymous said...

YC,here's our 2cents on the situation. I let my wife( listen to that call, and she's had good experience handling difficult customers in her previous job as a customer service manager.
All the steps you mentioned are valid and correct. Always listen to the customer, sympathize(to make them feel that you're on their side), offer a solution and ensure customer that it would not happen again. Keeping quiet will only provoke the angry customer more. On the other side, how the customer reacted was totally unnecessary. 'Amma' was right and more diplomatic. Resolve the problem and not pick a fight.

Anonymous said...


And I agree that the customer was simply there to be nasty, rude, and for a fight.


Anonymous said...

The 2nd customer was outright condescending. No one was interested in fixing the issues at hand, but interested in shouting and raving over language, "proper procedures" and "you didn't apologize".

That's the cancer that's killing world.

Jaui said...

OK, sorry, but did you not listen to the start of the conversation.

(1) The customer was already confrontational once he picked up the phone
(2) The customer snapped at the CSR once he told her that it was a "technical problem" and she misheard it that he said it was "her problem"

NO blame can be put on this guy. He was patient and tolerant of these 2 crazy women. The conversation would have ended in most other countries when the second woman started to be condescending and rude.

I can't believe Astro fired the guy even after listening to the recorded playback. It was really the woman's problem once she hit the 20min mark and spent 15 mins asking to speak to a supervisor. SHE was not willing to make any sort of resolution and they both didn't let him explain. It was just attack after attack after attack.

Totally not fair. In places like Australia or England, Siva could totally sue Astro for constructive dismissal.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jaui,

I'm not sure if Astro fired this guy, but from a customer support's perspective, he did not do a good job.

By the way, yes, that lady was way too condescending, but she had a point. In my experience, I had never answered my customers the way the Astro guy did, it had to go polite with the right tone.

You think he's patient? I think he's screwed up. He raised his voice, he provoked the customer, he did not know how to calm her down. If he was in my team, he would get some hard lecture from me too.

We are speaking about customer service: Customer with Service Front-line, not Stranger with Stranger on the street.


Shuuji said...

Even if the guy was partly at fault for not executing his job properly, i feel his dismissal was unfair and he could sue both ASTRO and the customer for the mental distress caused.

CSR guys are humans too.

Anonymous said...'s your bloody problem not to apologise and saying 'that's your problem' to that bi*tch.:P
BUT...I respect you as you could actually keep your head cool for 22 long mins!and that lady should give herself a check of her attitude before she want to complain about other's. what's wrong with her anyway?period?or not having enough....u know what..and work in this field, learn how not to deal with this kind of customer, but fired?not suppose to happened!give him a chance at least!
and to that rude do have a bloody big problem with your ego, attitude, and of course your birdbrain!im not supporting you at all!F*** you!(but i rather not. I ll vomit instantly!)

Anonymous said...

did jeeva really got fired from the job?
pity him
mebbe little miss nasty was pms-in on the particular day

Anonymous said...

for me personally la, this is a culture that i don't really agreed on which would be, as long as you are in a dept called customer service, then everyone has a liberty to assume you as punching bags. Furthermore, the court of law says that you can't threat other people. Is this the kind of quality that we want our children to be in future? Well, we can see it now right? It's becoming more serious nowadays cause people don't really mind their sons and daughters being very 'kurang ajar'. What kind of society are we building up? Kurang ajar society? What happen to the good old values that we used to have years before where people respect each other? If small petty things like you cannot watch ASTRO for few hours or maybe few days becoming so big deal where you can simply cursed and bashed other people until you are satisfied, then what if you faced a bigger problem example like your house burned down cause being striked by lightning or you suddenly got cancer or very chronic disease, would you cursed and bashed GOD also cause GOD did not provide a good service to you? Come on la, we are not barbaric anymore as we should be more matured and wiser as time goes by. hmmmmm.....

Anonymous said...

one word.... IDIOT and brainless customer... I wonder what her children will become 1 day... GANGSTER??? RACIST???
really feel like want to give a slap to both of them... !

Anonymous said...

He should keep it short and clear.
If the customer starts with the personal attacks, he should escalate the issue and record it down, then try just to give what ever the customer wants.

p/s: i should have counted how many times she mentioned the word "supervisor"