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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

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Sometimes, people find it difficult to end conversations gracefully. Even normal, routine conversations can sometimes feel awkward to end. Then, there’s the time when you’re trying to help someone, perhaps an end user, who rambles on and on and won’t stop talking long enough for you even ask a question. Maybe a co-worker has stopped by and just wants to visit. You’ve got other work to do, other calls to take, or a server to configure, but you’re having difficulty ending the call or visit gracefully. You don’t want to be offensive to the other person and you want them to feel good about their interaction with you and your department. So, what can you do? How can you handle situations like this? Some people may choose to act like Guilfoyle on the television series Silicon Valley in a rude, off-putting manner. While that would certainly end the call or visit, it would most likely also be a career limiting move. A better option is to find a way to finesse the termination of the call or visit in such a way that the other person feels good about the experience and you’re able to get on with your work.

Once you’ve taken care of whatever issue you’re working on in the support call, ask if the issue is resolved or the problem is solved. If they say yes, thank them, perhaps ask if there’s anything else you can do to help, and then say, “I need to get to work on some other tickets for now. Please call whenever we can be of assistance.” They may say “Okay” and you can simply say, “See you soon.” or words to that effect.

When Dealing with a Support Call Customer Who Rambles

If the customer in the support call rambles on and on about unrelated issues, it’s okay to gently interrupt them and say, “I’m sorry to interrupt and I’d like to continue this discussion later. For right now, I’ve got a lot of tickets piling up which I need to deal with. May I catch up with you later?” Then, ask if the issue is resolved, thank them, and move on.

Pass the Blame Up to Your Boss

When I was a manager of a workgroup, I told my employees that they could always blame me when they had to do something that a customer didn’t like. Check with your boss to see if it’s okay to say something like this: “I’d like to stay and visit, but my boss wants me to finish a project by tonight, so I really need to get going.”

You Don’t Always Have to Give a Reason

Remember, also, that you don’t necessarily have to give specific reasons for ending the support call or conversation. It’s perfectly okay to say things like, “I’ve gotta run. Good talking with you. Let us know whenever we can help.” You can also say, “I’ll let you get back to work. Call whenever we can help.”

If you feel like you need reasons, things like upcoming meetings, phone calls, or even a trip to the bathroom can ease the end of the interaction.

Summarize the Support Call, Then Move On

You can also make a statement to summarize the support call, then say something to move on. For example, “Yeah, the new policy is more restrictive, but it’s understandable when you consider everything that’s been going on. Well, I gotta run. See you soon.”

When it’s time to end a conversation, a warm, genuine smile and well-chosen words can make the difference between a graceful close or an awkward exit. Obviously, you should tailor these comments to your conversational style. The key is to remember to be kind and respectful, both to the other person and to yourself.

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

Bring my IT customer service training seminar onsite to your location for your group, small or large. Click here for the course description and outline.

Customer service book for IT staffPick up a copy of my IT customer service book The Compassionate Geek: How Engineers, IT Pros, and Other Tech Specialists Can Master Human Relations Skills to Deliver Outstanding Customer Service, available through Amazon and other resellers.

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