Last night my kids and I rode the elevator to The Eagle’s Nest, a revolving restaurant on the 14th floor of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis.  The maître d’, Leander, happened to ride with us to the top, and I told him we planned to just have dessert.  “There’s a banquet going on now, so let me seat you at a regular dinner table!” he said.  My kids were casually dressed in cutoffs and t-shirts, and I felt a twinge of self-consciousness as we walked by the swank white tablecloths and shimmering wineglasses.  For the next hour it was like—well—sitting in a warm nest—while we enjoyed our two desserts.  Several different members of the waitstaff came by our table (with delighted smiles) filling our water glasses, asking if we needed anything, answering our questions about the mechanism that twirled the restaurant.  Then, as we boarded the elevator to leave, I noticed a sign by the exit that said, “Proper attire required:  no t-shirts, cutoffs, sleeveless t-shirts permitted.”

Boy did this impress me.  Not only did they seat us despite our “inappropriate” attire, they made us feel like a million bucks.  They took Customer Service to a level I had not yet considered:  How good can you make your clients feel?   Whether intentional or not, they created a nest-like atmosphere that inspired me.

I began to think about what a nest would look like in a Call Center environment.  How might you re-create it?  The phrase “Deliberate Kindness” came to mind to describe the approach we can take with our  callers—a soft–sounding concept with a powerful effect.  Here are specific qualities I saw in The Eagle’s Nest staff that can be adapted to a call center environment:

Make your client feel welcome: When someone calls, I greet her by name, and ask how she is.  I also ask for contact information in the even we get disconnected.  I know she’s in a hurry to resolve her problem, but it’s a subtle reminder that I’m reaching out to her on a human level.  It says, “You matter.”

Show genuine concern for, as well as delight in, your caller. Every caller brings a specific energy: lightness, intensity, frustration, to name a few.  I have the most successful conversations when I acknowledge that energy level.  For example, I often receive calls from dotStaff™ users who have never received training on the tool.   Our software is intuitive, but may challenge an untrained user unfamiliar with her Client’s processes.   When she expresses that frustration,  I might offer:  “I am so sorry.  Let me alleviate your stress.  How can I help?”   I have learned that when you meet someone with compassion, all defenses melt.  Likewise, when someone calls and is having a good day, I join her in that.  The bottom line:  I’m with my caller through thick and thin.

Withhold  judgment, respecting a caller’s  needs. It’s simple:  When I’m judged, it feels bad. I never want to provoke that feeling during a support call.  Someone may ask a question I’ve answered a thousand times, or not understand something that’s obvious to me.  So what’s my job while she is in the nest? I answer it like it’s the first time I’ve heard it, and explain it while honoring her beginner status.  With that approach, I create goodwill that encourages—even guarantees—her return.

Don’t rush through. When I take a few extra seconds to establish a connection, to linger over someone’s comment, and to really listen, I build a relationship with my client.  I love to say “take your time” while someone looks up information.   It’s equivalent to a soothing hand on her back—reminding her that above all, her comfort is paramount.

By showing deliberate kindness to our callers, it establishes positive and powerful guidelines for how I treat them.  This nest we create for them is a “safe container” where they can do no wrong, where they are protected and supported.  I want to treat my clients with the same generosity of spirit shown to us by The Eagle’s Nest staff; I want them to feel affirmed and valued, no matter what they bring to the nest.