Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
  Polite Intimidation

I have never been very intimidating. I might be able to muster a little physical intimidation, but it's kind of a stretch, and generally comes off not very believable. I was raised to be terminally polite and pleasant. I always hated it when people bullied me, or made me do things I did not want to do.

Now, I'm not going to go on and cry like some freakin' after school special, where I learn a special lesson that ends with hugs all around. Nope, I want to tell you how I learned a little about intimidating people myself. It was in a little book I picked up at a thriftshop one day called Winning Through Intimidation. The subject of the book appears to be how the author learned to make money selling real estate, but It's a book about much much more than that.

This book teaches you about such things as:
-keeping records of conversations.
-mailing copies of agreements and conversations.
-repeating people's statements and conversations to them in order to make them do what they agreed to.
-using things like registered mail, and other records to be ready for the future.

Essentially, it teaches you to verbally maneuver people into conversations and agreements that they can't weasel out of . It teaches you how to keep people from lying to you.

What this book taught me is how to make conversations like a chess game. Good chess is about always removing any space for your opponent to retreat. It is about keeping your opponent on the defensive until he cannot make a move you did not want him to make.

The ways it helps me is when I am dealing with customers or billing requests. Whenever I deal with the customer, I make sure I repeat back to them what they wanted and how they wanted it done, I make sure to get them to repeat their first and last name, and I make sure that if there is a chance what I am doing will not work or may be affected negatively by the market, or other forces, they acknowledge risk and agree to let me try it anyway. Then I make sure that data is recorded accurately. So when billing problems come up later, I've already got the upper hand.

I've shared some of these ideas in a previous post entitled "You are Under my Control". But this book really goes a step further.

This doesn't mean I am trying to bend all of my callers to my will. Nah, I'm not that ambitious, nor am I that weaselly-I told you I hate selling things. But I am interested in keeping my ass covered and not getting in trouble because I let someone intimidate me into losing my company's resources.

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Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.

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