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So they can detect angry callers now. Therefore, some people's workplaces are thinking about using this to route audibly angry callers to upper tiers or supervisors. This struck them (and me) as a bad plan.

Yes, from a management perspective, it is really great to have angry people being handled by the people who are screened to deal with them and have the most latitude to either help them or tell them to go jump in a lake (with sharks with lasers).

From a tech/customer service perspective, there's already enough urban legend with an element of truth floating around about voice telephone mazes and how saying certain things and sounding angry and mean on the phone is possibly going to get you through to a human faster. It's great to help genuinely upset people, but encouraging abusive customers is going to get techs so mad so fast.

I had a few ideas about how it could be used without falling into the old "The Jackass Is Always Right" trap:

Flag the call when it comes in, to alert the poor tech who's going to deal with it that there's a cranky one on the line and to brace for it. But some techs like to play with pissed-off customers. Their supervisor should know, to make sure that the tech isn't playing, and whoever's monitoring the calls, particularly if they do real-time monitoring.

A pissed-off customer is likely to genuinely need a supervisor anyway, so it's good to alert the supervisors that they too may have incoming, so they can check on what's going on with that customer and not have to spend post-"I want to talk to your supervisor" time doing research. Even if the customer doesn't need a live supervisor on the line, the tech may need a hand in general.

If I were supervising, I'd occasionally like the ability to sort my agents by their soft skills, and route the angriest customers at techs who could handle it better for whatever reason (more tact, the ability to tell actual jerks where to get off but handle righteous anger, a disinclination to cave) but who were the same Official Tier as the rest -- but I wouldn't want to leave an agent in that queue for long, ow.

It's also wise to not have your phone system do things to further piss them off, even if you can't or shouldn't route them to a supervisor to start with, or get them to a human faster.
  • Turn off advertisements in their hold soundtrack. If I am mad and getting madder, I do not need to be enjoined to buy something from this company. I don't know what the stats are on people coming through and buying things they heard about while steaming at the ears, but I would imagine I would be less receptive, and in the short term, it is likely to make me more angry, and more likely to start talking back to the advertisement.
  • Switch from telling them how important their call is (likely to come off as artificial and not actual caring when you're mad) and give a factual message (ideally recorded by a human and not a soothing robot) about calls being answered in the order they're received.
  • Even before figuring out whether they're cranky, give them a choice about hold music (off or on).
  • Telling me that I can do X on the website, when I have found myself unable to do X on the website, is another thing guaranteed to get me from irritable to boiling in about fifteen seconds flat.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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