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I got some feedback to day which I'm very confused about.

I used to have two clients. Two weeks ago, I was told that I was to no longer support Client A and that they had been given an alternative (my boss).

A couple of days ago, someone called me from Client A, and I said 'Have you been told I'm not supporting you anymore and you need to call my boss?'. She said no, and I said, well, it'll only take me a second to look up what you need, so I'll tell you now, but in future you need to go to my boss.'

My bosses peer came to me today, saying that the person from Client A said I had been rude, and gave a completely different take on the conversation. I said, that's not what I said, and my bosses peer said, I know, but you know how they manipulate everything.

He followed it up with.. but Anon1, you need to be careful about how you speak to the customers, they are not your friends.

Well, I know that, but since a) I don't see what's wrong with what I said and b) they manipulate everything anyway so what does it matter, I don't know where to go from here.

Am I missing something that makes this make sense?

Anon

jhack's picture

What's missing is a description of your behavior. What you were told was an impression and a conclusion.

"Rude" is an interpretation. "You were loud, you interrupted twice, and you did not answer her question" would be a description of behavior that could be interpreted as rude.

You cannot do much at this point. Going forward, you should press for specifics. There is a very good podcast here on "how to recieve feedback" that will provide specfic guidance on how you can get that specficity from someone who gives feedback.

John

cwatine's picture

Is there any possibility for you to call the customer back and appologize ?
"I was just calling back to appologize. It was not my intention to hurt you. It would also help me for the future if you could give me an advice about how I should have proceeded ?"

It would be a way :
- to get his direct feedback
- to correct the impression he has from you (and your company)
- to learn something and improve (at no cost !)

Of course, if you do it you must fight against the temptation of trying to explain or justify or correct HIS perception of YOUR behaviour.

Just finish with : "Hey thank you for taking the time to tell me. It is an opportunity for me to get better. Have a good day."

US41's picture

"Can you tell me what I did specifically that they found to be rude?"

That will invert the feedback model and work backward toward the behavior of your own that you need to improve yourself...

... or it will expose the criticism for what it possibly is: hollow, without substance, and unqualified.

Sometimes when I use that technique I am told specific behaviors. Other times they bail out on me and say, "I'm not going to spend time walking you through it." When they say that, I say, "OK. Let's forget about it."

If they can't name a behavior, and they look stumped, I usually follow up with, "So, you don't really know what I did? They just called me a name? I can't stop them from calling me names. Please find out what it was I did so that I can do something about it and improve myself. Otherwise, I'm at a loss."

"You know what you did!" = "No, truly I am at a loss. I did lots of things, and I never intended any of my behavior as rude. Please find out what they took offense at."

I would not call a customer and ask them to qualify it for you. They told on you, and therefore they probably do not want to hear from you on the subject.

cwatine's picture

[quote="US41"]I would not call a customer and ask them to qualify it for you. They told on you, and therefore they probably do not want to hear from you on the subject.[/quote]

I understand your point and I am not sure to agree.

Of course there are circumpstances that can lead to different actions. But in a general way, I feel that if a customer feels he has been hurt, he needs appologizes.
On a personnal point of view I would also need feedback on my behaviour which has been interpreted as "rude". And on this I need direct feed back. Not an interpretation from a person who did not see it.

I agree this is not an easy phone call to pass but in my mind saying "they probably do not want to hear for you on the subject" is too much guessing and not a good way to learn how to improve.

Of course, this phone call has to be authorised by the boss.

mjpeterson's picture

Anon,
Are you a High D by chance? What you said was true, however the way you phrased it makes it come across as very abrupt rude.

You said "Have you been told I'm not supporting you anymore and you need to call my boss?" and they heard "Don't you know what's going on? This is the last time I'll help you. Next time, call my boss and don't bother me."

Unless your tone was super sweet, you probably did come off as rude. Would you feel any different if you had been rebuffed by someone in customer support this way, even if what they said was true.

itilimp's picture

[quote="anon1"]He followed it up with.. but Anon1, you need to be careful about how you speak to the customers, they are not your friends. [/quote]

Perhaps there is more than this statement you quoted that has upset the customer. The quotation above suggests to me that if anything they may be complaining about over-familiarity. Just a thought...

thaGUma's picture

[quote]I would not call a customer and ask them to qualify it for you. They told on you, and therefore they probably do not want to hear from you on the subject.[/quote]
Absolutely. And as your boss, I would monitor your calls to determine whether the complaint was valid. Result a) "you are doing fine". b) "you are rude - and this is why". There is no escape from customers, we need them so I cannot afford to lose them.

Why not record yourself and listen to your won behaviours? Perhaps with your spouse. Sometimes the cold light of day exposes a behaviour that needs adjustment.

Chris

cwatine's picture

It may also be interesting to find out why they switched this customer from you to your boss.
Maybe there has been a problem before and you got no feedback about it from your boss ?

Anonymous's picture

Thank you everyone for your thoughts. If nothing else, I know I'm not the only one confused!

Yes, I am a high D, and high I, so too abrupt and over-familiar could have been issues. I'll watch what happens in future.

Ced, Client B is paying for all my time. They found out that I was also supporting Client A (they asked me a direct question and I refused to lie, even though my boss told me to) and so Client A had to have different support immediately. My boss has supposed to be finding a new member of the team since February and hasn't, so she had to take the work herself.

Thanks again, everyone.

Anon