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This Is How You React, Even If They’re Just Being A Drama Queen

, , , , | Right | November 17, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Suicide Ideation

I was in my first week on the phones after training. As it was April of 2020, I was not in the office but being looked after in my work-from-home setup.

It was my last call of the day. The customer had physically damaged their device, so a repair was the next step. I was explaining the limited options due to lockdowns starting in their area and that they weren’t able to go to their preferred store due to this. The call had been relatively normal up to this point, though with a few minor phrasings and comments that made me think the caller might not be all there.

Me: “All right. Since you don’t want to do any of the repair options, we’re going to have to wait until things open up more.”

The caller spoke in the same tone that someone would use to comment on the weather in a boring conversation.

Caller: “Okay, I guess I’ll just kill myself, then.”

Panic mode instantly shut down almost everything, and I jump instantly to the “if a customer threatens harm” area of my training:

Me: “Please don’t hurt yourself; we don’t want you to hurt yourself. If you feel that way, you should talk to a doctor or someone—”

Caller: “No, I think I’ll just kill myself.” *Click*

I called back immediately, very panicked but keeping my tone as calm as I could.

Me: “I’m sorry, we seemed to get cut off there. I just wanted to make sure you were all right and heard what I was saying — that we don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

Caller: *Slightly confused tone* “But I can’t go to [Repair Shop] and my [Device] is broken?”

Me: “No, you can’t right now, I’m sorry. The only other way to get it fixed right now is [slightly roundabout method].”

Customer: “Yeah, I’ll just do something, maybe kill myself. Bye.”

I freaked out more than a little, calling up the supervisor level, asking if it counted as a customer being in “immediate physical danger” because, again, that tone was so casual. My brain was just looping on the “threat”.

The supervisor managed to calm me down and gently explained that I had done my best, but if the customer wasn’t accepting my comments, it wasn’t like we could force them into medical help, and since we didn’t really know where they were, then it wasn’t like we could get an ambulance out there.

I ended up at my end-of-day briefing sobbing over it and had no less than three of our trainers jumping up on the conference program to call me directly and make sure I was okay.

I STILL don’t know what was going on in that person’s head, or if they really meant anything by it, but I lost someone important to such thoughts, so there was no way I wouldn’t try to stop it if I could.

The weirdest praise I got for it, though, came from the trainer who I’d chosen for the comfort, who reinforced that they were impressed at how well I’d reacted to it in terms of giving the customer the correct information — that we didn’t want them hurt and that they should see a doctor for those feelings — and attempting to get help. Apparently, she didn’t think even a fully-trained supervisor would have responded with those sentiments so immediately. So… good for me for having a traumatic childhood?

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