I was enjoying some down time with my beautiful bride last night, just hanging in front of the TV watching one of our favorite shows when my cell phone rang.
“Hello. This is Darren Ford.”
On the other end was a nice woman who asked for Edward Somebody-or-other.
“I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number,” I replied.
(Here is example #1 of this agent not thinking critically.)
After adjusting her headset and speaking up a bit, this customer service rep said, “So, this isn’t Edward So-n-So?”
Hmmmm. Let me think. Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I really am Ed. After a quick reflection, I concluded that I was still Darren.
“No, this isn’t. You have a wrong number.”
The agent, fumbling for her next statement, said, “I’m sorry. Thank you.”
(Here comes example #2 of non-thinking.)
Just as I started to hit the “End” button on my iPhone, the agent says matter-of-factly, “If you ever have any questions for us, please call us at 1-800-I-stopped-listening.”
Really? I don’t do business with your company (I would name the organization but since I really wasn’t paying attention, I’d hate to falsely accuse someone) and don’t have any plans to do so. So why would I have any questions for you?
Two examples of a call center professional fumbling an outside-the-call-script scenario. First, she was not prepared nor could she think quickly enough to give a proper response to my wrong number reply. Second, she was so tied to the script, she had to get that closing line in before hanging up.
Yes, that last statement might be required but couldn’t she adjust just a bit based on the situation? “I’m sorry for bothering you this evening and realize you are not our customer. But if you ever consider satellite radio, we hope you will think of us.” Now that would have been a nice way to end this call.
Many contact center professionals rely on a call script. That’s understandable. Complying with legal issues and hitting business objectives are two among many reasons why scripts are important.
If, however, organizations want to improve and offer the best customer experience, teaching critical thinking skills to call center professionals must be a priority. Critical thinking allows employees to deal with ambiguity, overcome adversity, and reach individual goals. Teams and entire call centers that think critically will find business success that other call centers will miss.
Just thinking is easy. Thinking critically is a different story. It doesn’t just happen. Thinking critically is a complicated process that must be addressed and practiced:
- Living a healthy lifestyle is important. Proper sleep, eating well, and exercising
all contribute to critical thinking.
- The ability to focus, ignoring all of the “noise” around us, also helps the critical
thinking process. This is especially hard given today’s always-connected lifestyle.
- Choosing a positive attitude has a positive effect on your thinking ability.
- Technology – blogging, tweeting, etc. -- has allowed anyone to become an “expert.”
Applying logic in today’s Age of Spin is a valuable skill and helps us think well.
- Looking ahead and being prepared for new, ambiguous circumstances is also part
of the critical thinking process.
Organizations that help their employees practice and develop critical thinking skills will find business success in today’s complex and rapidly changing world. Those organizations that do not value critical thinking may someday (soon?) find themselves wondering how they ended up so far behind the competition.
Does your organization develop critical thinkers? How?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.