Disproportianate Consequences

I imagine it has happened to us all.  You know when you seat yourself at a table and drive your knee into a table leg.  It hurts; a lot.  And the amount of pain seems to be a lot larger than the size of the mistake you just made.  It happened to me last Sunday as we were hit with a little snowstorm right as meetings were about to begin.  I shoveled snow at my church early in the morning, and then rushed home to run the snowblower  for myself and some elderly neighbors.  It kept snowing, so I hurried back to the church to touch up before meetings, and then back home to take care of little Jeffrey whose nose was too runny to go out.  I had left he snowblower in the carport and I started it up to finish the back driveway and put it away.  I pulled the starter cord and ran my elbow into the post of the carport with such force that I imagined a sniper had shot me in the arm.  Two days later and it still aches; a classic example of disproportionate consequences.

Contact Centers experience a lot of this.  Some customers are already “in the red” when they call in: 

  • They may have already been trying to resolve their concern on their own for a frustrating length of time
  • Their expectations may have been set unreasonably or simply incorrectly
  • This may not be the first call to Customer Service, and they are frustrated with the support they've received previously

And there are myriad other scenarios that could cause a caller to be in the "critical zone" even before being connected to an agent.  This means that agents must tread a thin line  when dealing with customers.  There is a hightened risk that the wrong word or any other miscommunication could result in sending the customer over the edge; the wrong word and the agent is dealing with disproportionate consuequences.

We can't fix callers.  The way they show up in the contact center is beyond the scope of what we do.