My daughter and I were driving home from church Sunday afternoon. We were in the left hand turn lane behind another car. We had the green arrow, yet the car in front of me hadn’t started to accelerate. The driver behind me laid on the horn something terrible. I actually turned around to look at her. She let up for a second and then honked again. “Ridiculous,” I said to my daughter. In the rearview mirror I saw the lady was giving me the middle finger, all because she assumed I was the holdup at the light.
About the time I got flipped off, the driver in front of me turned left and I followed. The honking profane driver quickly accelerated and then drove side -by-side me. What? Then she literally drove into my lane, nearly hitting me!
I found myself getting heated and frankly, I wanted to cuss. But my daughter was in the car and I had to ensure her safety, as well as my own. So, I had to de-escalate the situation. In my peripheral I could see the lady gesturing at me still. I avoided eye contact, didn’t return the bird gesture and I didn’t even utter words that the driver wouldn’t hear anyway. I slowed down just a bit so that she had to pass me. And then, it was over.
My mistake in this situation was physically turning around and looking at the driver. That enticed the driver to continue and become more aggressive. Fortunately, I’m skilled in de-escalation because I teach de-escalation in my Verbal Aikido training sessions. The moment I realized my error, I moved into de-escalation. My de-escalation tactic in this situation was to avoid eye contact, so not to appear threatening or aggressive, and to choose silence as opposed to profanity. I let it go and the out of control driver was defused, or at least, the situation for me and my daughter was calm.
De-escalation is a strategic tool that your employees can use when they find themselves in a ridiculous situation with an agitated, angry or out of control customer. Not unlike what I experienced in traffic 2 days ago.
Examples of de-escalation include:
I’m sitting at my desk, sipping my dark Italian roast latte and doing a run-through of tomorrow’s web training, “Coaching & Monitoring” and boy, am I excited! This is such an important training because it addresses head-on the 4 biggest challenges supervisors and managers face with monitoring and coaching customer service employee:
- How to design the most effective monitoring form
- How to address problem performance in the most diplomatic way
- How to deal with whining and complaining employees
- How to hold employees accountable for making improvement
So often I find that supervisors don’t monitor and coach consistently and if they are consistent with recording calls, they aren’t always strong and confident in giving constructive feedback. Without feedback, there really is no value in recording calls.
When my daughter was 13, we re-did her bedroom to give her a teenage look. She picked out modern furniture from Ikea, lovely bedding and fun art that perfectly matched her style. It’s now 3 years later and my son is almost 14. The other day he came to me and said, “You guys owe me a new room. Sissy got a new room when she was 13 and I’m almost 14 with the same room I had when I was little.”
My son felt we were being unfair to him by not redoing his room at exactly the same age as we did his sister’s. So, on Saturday night we went out and picked out his new room. We haven’t made the purchases yet, but the process is started! I didn’t think of the timing as being unfair, but that is certainly my son’s perception.
You, no doubt, have employees who notice the little (or big) things just like my son. This means you must take care to be fair and to be perceived as fair, particularly when it comes to performance feedback.
I remember managing a contact center and having an employee say to me, “Tammy does the exact same thing, yet the supervisor doesn’t take off points for her. I may not have the bubbly tone like Tammy, but I’m good with customers.” The employee was referring to the point distribution on her quality monitoring form versus Tammy’s points. Employees often came into my office to have discussions that were in one way or another just like this one. The problem was my people didn’t feel the supervisors were being fair. That was a problem.
It took me a short while, but I did eventually nip the unfairness dilemma in the bud. What I did is I began meeting weekly with my supervisors to calibrate. Calibration is simply: Continue reading
The goal was to motivate customer service employees to deliver a better customer experience by monitoring calls and giving feedback on calls. The manager carefully crafted a monitoring form, which would be used to measure everything from listening skills to friendliness, to empathy. Each dimension on the score sheet was rated on a 5-point scale after supervisors listened to a random sample of calls between employees and customers.
Two months into the new quality monitoring plan, employees were complaining about the “fairness” of scores, supervisors were stressed as they struggled to find time to listen to calls, coach employees and record all the data.
Just 5 months after introducing the new quality plan, management acknowledged that the plan was thrown together without proper research or knowledge, it was too difficult to manage, and employees perceived the program as unfair. The entire plan was benched.
This, friends, is a really good example of how not to do a quality monitoring plan. Quality monitoring programs must motivate employees to perform at optimal levels, be easy to manage, and certainly they must be fair. Today I will explore with you 3 ways to Get Quality Monitoring Right.
One. Let Employees Listen to Their Own Calls
“When I needed soft skills and call controls eLearning modules for our Walmart.com customer care agents, it quickly became apparent that Myra’s materials were the gold standard.”
Betty Doyle, Sr. Learning Designer, Customer Care, Walmart eCommerce
Watch this short overview video to learn more about Myra’s customer service eLearning
Learn more or try for free.
Customer Service eLearning to Help Your Employees Speak with Friendliness and Empathy, and to Handle Difficult Customers with More Ease – with Progress Reports, Quizzes and SCORM option.
- Walmart called Myra’s eLearning the “the gold standard” and John Hancock said, “The first thing that struck us was how engaging each module was….you are asked to actively participate in each module and there are action items you take away.
- Myra has gathered up all of the best training content and activities from her live, full-day customer service workshops…the ones she delivers to companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Frito-Lay and Vera Bradley – and neatly packaged it in a comprehensive, affordable and extremely effective new customer service eLearning package that’s a fraction of the cost of classroom training.
- This eLearning is super easy! Choose an Administrator at your company and that person can add users to your account, assign courses and run progress reports with a couple clicks of the mouse!
Learn more or try for free.
One of the things I’m working on this year is giving you tools to help you coach your employees and hold them accountable, so that they are positioned to deliver the best possible customer experience.
The way YOU do that is, you go into discussions with your employees with a plan, and with confidence. I’m going to give you a 3-step method for how to talk to your employees about a problem, be that problem attitude, attendance, the way they interact with customers, anything.
Use what I call KFD
Live Guided Webinars with Myra Golden
People generally perform better when they get feedback. And here’s a perfect example of how helpful feedback is. Continue reading