Avoid Customer Service Pitfalls By Training for the Unexpected

How do you avoid unexpected customer service pitfalls? By making sure your reps have the training they need to handle problems they've never heard before. 

A friend of mine was telling me that she recently got home from another late day of work, and was called into the living room by her husband, who said they needed to talk. She steeled herself for a conversation about late hours; after all, she had been working a ton lately, and hadn’t been home as much. They sat down, and while he prefaced it by saying that he wasn’t mad, and he understood her choices, he really wasn’t happy with the kind of shirts she had been buying him.

That’s right: it had nothing to do with work at all! He felt uncomfortable in his new shirts, but since she prided herself on her fashion sense, he was worried about bringing it up. She had anticipated one problem, but was a little flabbergasted when something else came up. She honestly wasn’t entirely sure what to say. It was an unexpected problem.

We’ve all been there. We try to plan for everything, but there are always surprises along the way. This can be a problem in life, but is often a big problem in customer service--especially when interactions are tightly scripted.

The problem with some scripts is that they don’t prepare CSRs for the unexpected, the unanticipated, and obviously the unprecedented. That can make calls seem less than human, as the CSR tries to fit the weird back into the normal box. If you want more human customer service interactions, you’ll need have customer service representatives who are trained well enough to use the script for any situation, especially the unexpected.

 Navigating The Known Unknowns

 Last week, we talked about what it meant to empower your customer service representatives to make the best decisions. This involved training, education, involvement, and cross-department access. 

The reason all these things are important is because you know representatives are going to come across some unknowns. But if they have all the tools needed to understand any given question  in any given situation while still being able to stay on-message and not get flustered, the customer won’t even know they are the first person to run over their hard drive with a lawnmower.

What does this look like in practice? Let’s take a look at a hypothetical call. Representative 1 works for a third-party customer service partner, with the technology, knowledge and training they need to understand and empathize. Representative 2 is well-meaning, but they are isolated, and only know their small corner of the company, and only have been trained to handle a few problems.


Representative 1: Good morning, Mrs. Applekamp! Thanks for calling Tom’s Garage Door Shop. How can I help you today?

Representative 2: Good morning, thank you for calling Pete’s Garage Door Emporium! How can I help you?


Representative 1: OK, no, your garage door should definitely not be opening on its own. And it just does this at random times, or is there a pattern?

Representative 2: It’s opening on its own? Or is it not opening at all?


Representative 1: I see that you have the 2015 Excelsior Model, which you bought new. Has this problem just started?

Representative 2: OK, so not just not opening at all. And what kind of garage door do you have? Can I get your name and your customer number?


Representative 1: Well, the problem might be a disconnect between the IoT-enabled smart car sensor and the engine. It sounds to me like it is getting false signals.

Representative 2: (waits on the line while customer scrambles to find information, hears garage opening in background and children screaming about a ghostdoor.)


Representative 1: This might be a fairly easy fix. If I can put you on hold for just a couple of minutes, I will check with engineering to see if they can send a software patch over the air to fix that nearly instantly. In the meantime, I’ve emailed you a short video talking about the IoT chip in your unit and how different items might cause it to react differently. This isn’t your issue right now, but it is good to know.

Representative 2: OK, so you have the SmartDoor2016! We have had problems with these not opening when the car approaches. Have you had that problem? No? Just the door opening with a will of its own, as if it is trying to tell you something? OK, well, I’m going to put you on hold and check with my supervisor. That’s a new one on me!


Representative 1: OK, thank you for holding. I’ve checked with engineering and they can send out a patch. This will be free of charge and will happen in the next half-hour with your permission. Great, thank you. I’ll let them know. Anything else I can help you with?

Representative 2: (Talking to supervisor) Hey, I think there is a problem with a door that opens. No, I don’t understand it either.


Representative 1: Wonderful, Mrs. Applekamp. You have a great day.

Representative 2: Thanks for holding. I’m going to have to put you on hold again to check with engineering. I said I’m going to have to put you on hold again. No, I get it, your children are crying too loud for you to hear me. I understand.  I’m a little terrified of ghostdoors myself.


Representative 1: (Plays ping-pong on break)

Representative 2: (Still on hold)

...and so on.

We see that the first representative, even when dealing with an unknown problem, is able to assimilate what she knew about other issues and deal with them efficiently. She wasn’t worried that this wasn’t the regular problem, or that the customer was slightly panicked. She was able to handle it because she could imagine what the problem was, even though it wasn’t in the script. And she definitely wasn’t scared of ghostdoors. 

That’s what you want. You don’t want anyone in your customer service team to be scared of ghostdoors, haunted cloud drives, or any other strange problems. You want them to know that there is a reason for everything, and even if they hadn’t heard it before, they can assimilate something new into their knowledge and training.

That’s what good customer service is: the ability to react on the fly. Does your team have the training, the technology, and the empathy to do that? If so, they’ll be customer service wizards, and will be able to handle the most unexpected problems at work, and in life.

At RDI-Connect, we understand that your business is as unique as your customers, and that you need a true partner to understand every aspect of your organization and of your customers and clients. Our B2B and B2C customer service professionals work with you to provide the most well-trained and humanized customer care available. Connect with us today to learn more.

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RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.