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When Dementia Patients Make More Sense Than Customers

, , , | Right | July 19, 2021

Last night, I listened to some recorded calls for quality adjustment. I got to hear this gem since it was flagged for being overly long. The call agent has spoken for more than twenty minutes to a customer for a shoe where calls usually do not take longer than two or three minutes.

Call Agent: “Welcome to [Company] order line. My name is [Call Agent]; how can I help you?”

Customer: “I want to order your new promo offer. I’ve never ordered from you before.”

Call Agent: “Certainly. Let me take your data and set up an account. Then I can take your order.”

Customer: “Why do you need my data? I just want to order! I don’t want an account with you!”

Call Agent: “We need to know where to send the items to. That is why I need your name and address and to create an account so I can then process your order, so the colleagues can fetch the items from our depot and send them to you by our postal services.”

Customer: “I don’t understand. Why can’t I just tell the postal service? Why do you need my data? This is ridiculous!”

This goes back and forth for a while until the customer gives in and gives her data. The agent is pleasant and friendly all the time. 

Call Agent: “So, you said you want our promo. That’s the shoes [Style A] for 125€ and the shoes [Style B] for 110€, and you’ll get 15€ deducted from your bill and [Item C] for free. What size do you want the [Style A] in?”

Customer: “Why do I need to tell you that?”

Call Agent: “So we can send you shoes that fit you. Otherwise, you could get shoes that don’t fit.”

Customer: “I really don’t know why you need to know so much personal data.”

Cue some back and forth, but in the end, she gives the size.

Call Agent: “The second pair is also for you? It is the same size, then?”

Customer: “Why do I need to tell you that?”

Call Agent: “Many people want different sizes because they want one pair of shoes for themselves and another for somebody else. I don’t need to know what you’ll do with them; just confirm for me that you want them in the same size.”

Customer: “I really don’t know why you ask so many questions.”

Call Agent: “I’ve now put in the same size as the others. Is that okay for you?”

Customer: “No! I want them in [different size].”

Call Agent: “That’s fine. I’ve put that in for you. You get [Item C] for free. It comes in blue, red, or green. Which colour do you like?”

Customer: “Why do I need to tell you that?”

Call Agent: “You don’t need to. I can just put in a colour and surprise you if you prefer not to tell.”

Customer: “No! You don’t choose for me! I want blue!”

Call Agent: “My pleasure. I’ve put that in for you! Now, your total would be 220€ in total after applying the promotional deduction. However, the price for [Shoe A] has changed. It’s no longer 125€ but is marked down another 5€, so you save even more and now have to pay only 215€. Also, shipping is free today, so that’s your price. Your package will arrive approximately in two to three d—”

Customer: “No! That’s wrong! The total is wrong! The ad says another price!”

Call Agent: “Yes, the ad says [Shoe A] is 125 € and [Shoe B] is 110€, right?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Call Agent: “So that’s added, the bill would come to 235€, yes?”

Customer: “No! It’s 205€ after the promo code!”

Call Agent: “That promo can only be applied at the end once. To order both pairs of shoes in the ad, you get 15€ deducted from both shoes.”

Customer: “No.”

Call Agent: “I understand that that’s confusing. I have the promo in front of me; I’ll read it for you.”

She does so and the customer confirms that’s what she sees, too. They do the math again, and then everything goes through two more circles until the customer finally gives in. Still, the agent is perfectly calm and patient the whole time. She explains again and again, always trying to meet the customer halfway. And she finally manages to make her see that she saves even more because one of the shoes has been marked down again during the promo.

Finally, they come to an end.

Call Agent: “Thank you for your order. I hope you’ll enjoy your new shoes and have a good day!”

Customer: “I’m still not sure that this is at all the right price.”

Call Agent: “You’ll get your bill. You can see it on paper before you pay and send it all back if you don’t think it’s a fair price. Now, have a pleasant evening and goodbye.”

The agent terminates the call. She is perfectly friendly up until the end and follows every single company policy except not to terminate the call. But honestly, I can’t blame her for that. I have no idea how she managed that, since I’d felt the need to strangle the customer after the tenth rinse and repeat. I call her between customers, speak through the call with her, and ask.

Call Agent: “Oh, before coming here and starting this job, I was a nurse for elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I’ve had worse and it doesn’t bother me. I just quit because I couldn’t take it due to my declining physical health anymore, but I miss the challenge. She was a good chance to use my skills again.”

I marked the customer’s account for immediate transfer to escalations so other calls wouldn’t ruin our call handling time, and I put my agent in for promotion to that department, too, which would also include a nice rise for her. I’ve never heard anybody who’d fit that department better than her. 

The last thing I’ve heard from her is that she’ll get the job and she’s very excited about it.


This story is part of our Best Of July 2021 roundup!

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