Sunday, August 7, 2011

City shares good ideas (mine)

Sitting at an old metal desk, you shift uncomfortably in the tired orange chair with frayed threads. You glance sporadically at the clock anxious for the sweep of the hands to signal break time. Finally, the slim points of metal click into place. Ir's time. With joyful glee you push away, land your feet firmly on the floor, and ready to dash to the door to meet friends and fill your lungs with fresh air.

The phone rings.

You squeeze your eyes shut and hang in the limbo between should I or should I not. You sigh, grab the hefty receiver and give your best 'happy to talk to you, but make it snappy' greeting.

It's not someone you know. It's not someone you ever want to know. It's a customer who's been transferred three times too many and they are p.o'ed.

The customer is also stuck in repeat mode. As soon as they dump their load of gripe, they back it up and take another run at it, three or four times.

The coffee break with your buddies is a distant dream. If you can get off the phone in 20 minutes you'll be lucky. If you are able to replace the phone in it's cradle without slamming it will be a sign of extreme self-control.

But you have to be nice.

It's your job.

How do you handle the situation? 360 Convos wrote about how one employee handled a difficult phone call in the post, When the customer can't be consoled, console the employee. The City of Gresham picked up the post and shared it on their intranet site. The paragraph below is what they posted.

If you've been in public service long enough you've probably spoken to a resident or two. If you've spoken to a resident or two you've probably been on the receiving end of a difficult phone call or two. You know, the call where no matter what you say nothing seems to help the situation or satisfy the resident. Check out this great blog post from 360 Convos about how to handle a challenging customer phone call.
It's pretty cool when a business scouts for good ideas. It's even motivating to know a government entity looks for ways to give better service.

Kudos, City of Gresham and Laura Bridges!

Screenshot of city's intranet post that links to 360 Convos.