Are you interacting with support in a helpful way?

are you interacting with support in a helpful way?

I fly a lot

And I don't know if you've noticed this, but some of the most ridiculous customer support dynamics are out on display in airports.

What I mean by that is that if a person were to come to the planet from another, and only got to see how we lived by looking in airports, they would go away with a radically incomplete and yet almost hilarious (if it wasn't so maddening) perspective on how we live and survive as a species.

People I don't understand

Before I get into support, let me tell you about two groups I really don't understand. I may make you mad by admitting this, but give me a second to explain. They feel like the very same kind of people. But hear me out.

  • People who stand outside, with a huge sign, and yell at everyone within earshot that they're destined for hell.
  • People who participate in civil war reenactments on the Confederate side.

They may feel like really different groups to you. But here's why I lump them into the same group and why I don't understand them.

Neither one wakes up thinking that today is the day that things are going to be awesome. Both know that in the end, they're going to burn up a whole day and see very little (or no) fruit to their efforts.

The sign and yelling won't convert. (And no, I'm not picking on Christians. I am one. I'm picking on the method.)

The confederate side won't end up winning. (After all, it's a replication of events already passed with a clear result.)

So why do people do it?

Honestly, I don't know.

When was the last time you were in an airport? Did you see people yelling, loudly, at customer service reps, thinking that it would intimidate them and “show them who is boss”?

It won't work. It won't convert. It won'd end up winning.

So why do people do it?

Honestly, I don't know.

So yes, now I have three groups of people I don't understand.

  • The angry evangelists
  • Confederate reenactors
  • Demanding people dealing with customer support

Let's talk about ways to interact that are helpful

No matter what – stay calm. There has never been a situation where people ended the interaction and said, “this would have been easier if we had escalated this faster and louder.”

If you choose to stay calm and keep things professional, you have a better chance of working with your support agent as a partner rather than an adversary.

Create context. Sometimes the same exact issue (or bug) can have a really different sense of urgency – depending on the context surrounding the issue.

Here's the thing- a customer support agent doesn't know if this is a regular issue or you have the CEO of a major company about to quit you. They can't guess. So share context with them. Bring them on board to be your partner in solving an issue.

Everything – and I mean everything – is a negotiation. You may not realize it when you contact support, but you're stepping into a give and take. This isn't all give on their part and take on yours. Or the other way around.

I've seen support folks simply refund money and ask you to go away – which is their right. I also know folks who've been mistreated by support folks and bought promoted tweets at a conference – creating massive pain for a conference hotel who couldn't get their act right.

In the end, you should step into every interaction with support aware that you can both work together to create something better (a better situation, a better brand experience, a better service, a better product), or you can work at cross-purposes to hurt one another.

Which brings me to my question: are you interacting with support in a helpful way?

If someone else were acting like you're acting – would you look upon the situation and say to yourself, “there's someone who knows how to get things done, which it comes to interacting with support”?

Or are you like me and look upon the situation and put them into the list of people you don't understand?

I hope, for all our sakes, that you're interacting with support in a helpful way.