I woke up in a bit of a grump this morning.

But my problem started after dinner last night. I had been working on some things on line last night when my Gorgeous Wife came into my study to let me know dinner was ready. Food is always a good motivator to get me to stop working so I took a break to have some quality time with Gorgeous before my phone meeting at 7 PM.

When I came back into the study at about quarter of to finish a couple things before my meeting my computer couldn’t find the internet. No web browser. No email. No IM. Nothing.

That made for an abbreviated meeting. And when I was finished I called BellSouth to see about getting my DSL service back up and running.

Call Center Experience

Then I waited.

And waited.

I waited on hold for over 45 minutes. It wasn’t so bad, I guess. I had the head set on the portable phone while I watched a movie with Gorgeous and listened to the muzak in my ear interspersed with announcements informing me of how important my call was to BellSouth and that despite the high call volume my call would be taken shortly, in the order that it was received.

Eventually I was connected to a nice guy named Dave. Dave and I went through the various trouble shooting items on BellSouth’s matrix. And we chatted during the various times when we had to wait for things to re-boot. The call center Dave was working at was in Costa Rica.

When it was all said and done he determined that yes, my problem was indeed outside my house and that the BellSouth DSL service did in fact appear to be down. Go figure.

It took somewhat over an hour for him to understand what I knew before I called him. But at least BellSouth was now officially aware of my service issue.

Dave assured me that my service should be restored within “a couple of hours”. Since I understand the ambiguities of utility repair time make the actually time of restoration of service completely impossible to for anyone to predict with any accuracy, I decided that I now had a perfect excuse to go to bed at a decent hour for once!

I’d get my work done in the morning.

Well, the alarm went off at oh-dark-thirty, as is my custom, I came into the study, fired up the computer… and… nothing. Still no internet access. I was very tempted to go back to sleep for a couple more hours. I even shut the computer back down.

But I knew there were things that Gorgeous and I really had to get done this morning. I needed to try to get our service restored. So I called BellSouth back.

Back to the Call Center

This time I was connected rather quickly to a nice lady named Jenny, whom I later found out was working at a call center in the Philippines. Jenny had her work cut out for her.

Let’s just say that first thing in the morning is not my best time of day. It takes me a bit of time to wake up. Gorgeous doesn’t even like being around me when I first wake up. Apparently I’m not much fun to be around even on a good morning. When things are going right.

And things were decidedly not going right when I was connected to Jenny. And it didn’t help her cause that my “service ticket had been closed out” which apparently meant that as far as BellSouth was concerned my DSL was good to go. Only it wasn’t really.

That meant Jenny really wanted to go back through all the same trouble shooting items that I had gone through with Dave last night. Now I already “knew” that my problem was outside my house so we were piling frustration on top of grump.

Fortunately for my situation Jenny is truly a call center professional. I don’t know if she likes her job or not, but she is incredibly good at it. And I’m not even talking about the technical aspects of making computer services work. What I’m talking about is the much more difficult part that requires personal skills to keep the customer as calm and contented as possible while working through what is for them a frustrating problem.

Jenny stayed calm, professional, and incredibly nice throughout our conversation. She managed to diffuse my grump so quickly I didn’t even notice it leaving. And she got me to go through her steps even though I knew they wouldn’t work.

Only this time they did.

Apparently when BellSouth got their equipment back up and running outside my house it somehow caused my DSL modem to lose my login information. When we re-entered the login info I was back in business. Literally.

My Lesson For Today

So what is my takeaway from this experience?

First Jenny was a living demonstration of the proverb that says

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.

She stayed calm right from the beginning of our conversation. I could hear her smiling on the other end of the phone. And not some snide condecending smile either. But a warm, genuine smile that says “I’m here to help and we’re going to get through this.”

Even thought I had a bad attitude when I got Jenny on the phone, she wasn’t fazed by it. She knew the reality behind my actions.

The reality was that I didn’t care so much that my internet didn’t work. I really just wanted it to start working. If she could get to the end of the conversation with my service working then I would be a happy satisfied customer.

Because she knew this she wasn’t ruffled by my initial grumpiness. She didn’t try to “make” me ungrumpy. Instead she just chose to ignore my gruffness and work through her procedures as pleasantly as possible.

Imagine if she had answered my grumpiness in kind. Or what if she’d decided to escalate? “Look Bub. The computer says the service has been restored. So the problem is obviously on your end. Why don’t you get a clue and get your hardware configured right. Stop wasting my time.”

That seems like a ridiculous response under the circumstances, doesn’t it?

But how often do we treat people around us that very same way?

How often do we match the attitude and actions of those around us?

Responding in kind doesn’t help our cause. We should take a lesson from Jenny and instead respond in kindness.

Doing so will help us defuse the situation and make it possible for all parties involved to walk away with a positive experience.


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