Agents Managing Difficult Situations: Maybe it’s In Their DNA


Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2017, a top DNA testing kit company sold approximately 1.5 million kits, and more than 10 million people have used to kits to have their DNA tested according to news reports.  With many companies offering discounts during Cyber Week last year, one could assume that these kits were once again popular holiday gifts in 2018.  We’ve likely all heard stories about customers assuming a particular result and getting something far different than their expectation.  But, we’ve probably never considered what happens when these customers reach out to customer service agents with questions or seeking clarification. It’s safe to say, these interactions put call center agents in unusual situations.

A recent Bloomberg article pointed out, many agents are not just fielding calls about the status of results or other basic administrative tasks, but they are also being tasked with answering questions that require much more personal which reveal critically important answers. A quick Google search reveals pages of articles about test-takers being taken by surprise when unknown relatives are found after results were not what quite what they expected.  While these shocking discoveries are not likely the norm for the millions of tests that have already been processed, people may still have questions about their results.

In situations like these, call center agents must go beyond what we traditionally consider an agent’s role.  They must listen and try to be sympathetic and empathetic, helping callers process their results.

But while this is an uncommon example, the ability to wear multiple hats as a highly skilled and empathetic agent is becoming more and more valuable across various industries. Consider contact center agents across the healthcare and finance verticals, just to name a few. They are often faced with sensitive details that require listening and empathy. Just imagine a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes checking the authorization status of a continuous glucose monitor that has been taken several weeks. Agents must have the capacity to understand the importance of the request, while diffusing the situation.

These agents wear many hats throughout their day from strictly business inquires to displaying empathy when someone confirms new bombshell information.  These listening, understanding and empathy skills, while also managing standard requests are important traits that will help agents meet customer expectations — even when dealing with an uncomfortable situation.

Are you assessing your agents’ skills for managing difficult situations?  Learn how you can improve your level of service here.