People react to the same situations very differently. As I hear how the service reps dealt with customers on the telephone and under pressure, it is easy to spot the two extremes. The first is the ideal. S/he never buckles under pressure. They seem to have a calmness about them that transcends the situation and maybe even life itself. Nothing seems to get to them. Adversity does not connect with frustration. Technology failures are simply part of the landscape. Even verbal abuse, internal and external, comes and goes without apparent impact.
The other extreme is familiar. A classic exchange between a young, inexperienced, and limited banking vocabulary rep tried to respond to an angry client. The connection, in hindsight, went wrong from the first exchange – primarily because the client was talking about a specific banking product and the rep did not recognize the words.
If one were not a banker with expertise in the particular product line, it would be easy to fall into the trap. When a client asks if we are going to pick up his bill, and English is not your first language, you might assume s/he meant deliver his bill. The response of “we not ready yet” takes on a very different meaning when you are used to having a courier pick up documents every day. “Bill” can mean many different things!
I find myself sitting in either shoe, laughing and angry at the same time. It is an honest mistake. Nobody should be in trouble here. Both sides could defend themselves with the words, “they should be the ones standing trial here, not me!” (Acts 26.7) There are honest reasons for the mix-up and yet the hide a far more simple question.
Did anyone ask the other if they understood? Both sides assumed the words were easy to understand. The meaning was and is clear. The angst is appropriately genuine for each party. Yet, looking back, there were questions sitting, begging to be asked. “Are we talking about the same thing?” As tensions rose, “did I understand your words?”