Business Practices | | Published April 23, 2013

Does Your Help Desk Know That Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number

agesHere’s how the best customer service teams deliver great customer care, by any number

Ask even the best help desk or customer service professional and he or she will tell you: Something happens as soon as you find out a customer’s age or hear the individual’s voice on the phone and realize how old they are.

It’s nothing you do on purpose, but it’s also something you really have to avoid. You automatically assume you know quite a bit about this person when, in fact, you don’t. It’s a touch of ageism, and it’s to be avoided as much as possible.

Those who’ve worked in customer support for a while know that the best customer service reps use as much info as possible to get a complete profile of a customer, it’s true. However, sometimes you get information that isn’t quite correct but you have trouble letting go of it. A customer’s age is one such piece of info that may not reflect reality.

People can be younger or older than their years

You get a call from a customer one day and it’s a fairly young person—or at least it sounds like the caller is fairly young. Immediately you get a picture in your head what he or she looks like and what the situation is. You see a young girl standing by a small desk twirling the phone cord between her fingers in her father’s office – even though she’s calling the help desk about office software.

The trouble is, that young lady isn’t some cord-twirler, she’s a young entrepreneur needing some advice. Or she’s an older lady with a high-pitched voice. Or she’s a high school student who’s at the top of her class and ready to get something started with her life. You have no idea what’s really going on with this person; you’ve only heard her voice.

The same can happen with the older crowd, especially in this technological day and age. Many customer support representatives automatically assume that an older person on the phone means a long conversation with questions like, “Are you sure it’s plugged in?”

Of course, that same senior citizen could turn around and school the young whippersnapper in no time flat. He called with a legit question and the rep insulted him by asking if the computer was plugged in. How long do you think that customer will stick around?

An e-mail customer support version of this might occur when you receive a request that is misspelled, incorrectly capitalized, or otherwise not written in standard English. Doesn’t that cause you to make assumptions right off the bat?

Don’t Assume

No matter how difficult it is, you have to start at a neutral position with each customer. What this means is as soon as you start getting ideas about the customer that have nothing to do with reality, climb your way back to a starting position. Once you start going down the rabbit hole of assuming, you’re already lost.

Assuming your customer is a little dumb or immature can drive away sales very quickly, too. You won’t just offend this one customer – he or she could go online and tell the rest of the world how you don’t treat every customer the same and don’t like older/younger people. In turn, this could lead to a huge backlash online. All you had to do to avert this was to not assume anything from the customer’s age.

Once you eliminate all the natural (and unnatural) assumptions that pop into your head when you find out someone’s age, you can truly begin to know this customer as a real person. And, as the best customer support teams know, only then will your customer rep skills shine.

TeamSupport is among the best help desk and customer service software for providing collaborative customer support.