Does your contact center have a Butcher of Hope?

I recently watched a comedy called “The Neighbors” (see ABC.com) which is about a family that moves into a suburban community where the other residents are all aliens from another planet.

In this episode, the alien leader, Larry, went to a PTA meeting with his human neighbor. When a heated debate between two PTA members started, the Larry leaned over to his neighbor and asked, “Where is your ‘Butcher of Hope?”  He went on to explain that the Butcher attends all meetings, conceals eternal sorrow and puts an end to all debates. Larry later add, “”Where we’re from, we wage warfare through psychological destruction”.

I couldn’t help thinking about the Butcher of Hope that often takes up residence in our contact centers.

Our call center Butcher of Hope (BOH) is the person who brings down the attitude of everyone on the team with just a few sharp comments or complaints.  They suck all the happiness, joy and enthusiasm out of every room they enter.  If the BOH is in a leadership role in our center, Agents are afraid to make suggestions or give feedback.

The BOH uses these same negative approaches with customers.  Here’s an example:

The customer calls and is cheerful, interested in getting some questions answered and friendly to the agent.  They seem eager for help.

BOH (flat tone): “This is Mary.  How may I help you?”

Customer (enthusiastically):  “Hi Mary! I’m considering your (product).  It looks really great.”

BOH: “Uh, huh”

Customer (still excited):  “How easy is the (product) for me to install? You provide free support on this same number, right?

BOH:  “Yes.” (cricket, cricket, cricket…dead air)

Customer (no longer excited and eager to get of the call):  “Well…I guess that’s all I needed”

BOH: (flatly reading script): “OK… Thank you for calling. Goodbye”.

In just a few minutes, the BOH agent quickly manages to take a customer, who is happy and enthusiastic about a new product purchase, into the dead zone of apathy.  If the purchase hasn’t been made yet, the prospective customer is probably shopping for a different product and company to deal with after they hang up.

Agents who respond positively and mirror a customer’s enthusiasm and positive tone tell me that they often receive compliments from customers at the end of the call.  These same agents also say that they feel in better control of the call.

If you have a BOH, coaching time should be spent talking with them about how they feel about the customers, their role in service and play for them examples of their missed opportunities to respond positively and show interest in callers.  Work with them to improve these negative behaviors with customers and to be more positive with their team members as well.

 

About the author

Since 1983, Melissa has partnered with Contact Centers and Retail Teams to help them develop strategies, operational processes and skills to successfully blend People, Process and Technology for Customer Experience success.

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