I spent two afternoons in November at a training session for customer service and call center representatives. The program was called CEO’S FOR HIRE. CEO standing for Customer Experience Owners. Yes. It was as ridiculous and boring as it sounds. The presenter/motivational speaker wannabe was a middle aged balding man, who wore a bright red tie with penguins on it. This was the only thing redeeming quality about the guy. Some highlights from the “customer focus” workshop.
1. Steven, our motivational speaker wailed like a baby and flung his arms up as if to ask his mother for a hug. He was demonstrating how a customer must feel when dealing with our company. He wrapped his arms around his shoulders and told us “You need to take them into your loving arms, and say, I got you… I GOT YOU.”
I looked around to see if anyone else wanted to start laughing or stabbing. I was surprised to see all of my colleagues nodding in agreement…mortified that no one else felt the urge to punch themselves asleep immediately.
2. We performed a couple “trust” exercises, which are common in any corporate training events. We were instructed to lead our blindfolded partner wherever they wanted to go. I hate these trust exercises. HATE. Under no circumstances am I going to trust the middle aged woman who only talks about losing “the baby fat” and spends 7 hours on the phone with her babysitter or forwarding Bible quotes to everyone. Nor am I going to trust the meathead who failed to have a pro football career and ended up at mid level management.
3. Role-playing. We had very strict instructions to not hang up or yell back at irate customers. He wanted us to remember that they were human beings as well, and maybe their having a bad day. It is our job to try and turn that around. I understand his approach and I’m not such a heartless bitch that I refuse to be kind and decent to our customers, but this man was operating under the notion that we deal with rational people all the time. Anyone that has ever worked in customer service, or interacted with human beings on a daily basis knows that this is EXTREMELY false.
4. We had name cards and magic markers. The best “artist” got a handful of chocolate. I drew an elephants butt.
5. As a follow-up to the workshop, we were instructed to write letters to ourselves filled with new ways to better serve our customers. Reminders to avoid cursing at the bitch that doesn’t understand how to fill out a form, or not to track down the jerk-off who refuses to write legibly, and finally to not jump off the balcony of our high rise building on our lunch break. We’ll receive the letters a couple months down the road, and we are supposed to work with our managers to come up with an action plan. I wonder how many people actually stick around long enough to receive it.
6. When the last portion of the training ended, our high strung presenter yelled at us (with the vigor of a college football coach during a bowl game) to become the BEST CEOS we could be.
Days like that make me regret stopping for red lights at major intersections.