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Don’t Deviate from the Script

Earlier this morning I was on the phone with a customer support individual from a consumer electronics company.  For the last several days I’ve had some issues installing a piece of consumer electronics gear that connects to the data network.  In the past I’ve had two other products from this particular company and have not encountered as much frustration as I’ve had setting up the latest product.  I’ve engaged several of my network administrators and have combed through access logs to diagnosis what the problem could be.

Finally I called the company’s customer support line and after several option trees was routed to a customer support individual.  The conversation took less than five minutes, and right off the bat I could tell that the customer service representative wasn’t listening to me.  I attempted to clarify that my installation wasn’t the “norm” because I was attaching this device to a corporate network as oppose to a home network.  As soon as I mentioned the word “corporate network”, the support representative simply stated that the device wouldn’t work on a corporate network.

Now I’ve been working in the area of networking for corporate IT for over ten years, and so I’m pretty confident that this blanket statement by the support representative was inaccurate.  It just reinforces my bias that too often the support representative doesn’t know how to deviate from their script.  While the script may address the most common and large majority of the calls the support folks receive, the inability to listen and think beyond the script results in poor service for a segment of the population.

As an IT professional, I often encounter nuances and situations that aren’t readily scripted.  To this end I have to do more testing, apply some deductive reasoning, and evaluate broader possibilities.  Even if a solution isn’t obvious, going through some extra steps and spending a couple more minutes with a customer as you consider the problem, communicates that you value the customer.  My experience with this support representative communicated that I wasn’t valued by this consumer electronics company.  The lesson I’m applying from this experience, is  that it’s okay to deviate from the script.  I need to take the opportunity to listen carefully to the customer, and take some extra time to consider additional options that may result in resolving the problem the customer faces.  Regardless if I’m able to resolve the problem, listening to the customer and spending more time addressing the situation is better than simply dismissing the customer because their issues doesn’t match your script.

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