Call center contest: How did you impact the customer experience?

The editors at want to know about your most rewarding experience as a customer service rep – our panel of judges will nominate their favorite stories and the top three will win American Express Gift Cards.

As a customer service representative, you've experienced it all – angry customers, crazy requests, unbelievable questions -- you name it, a customer service rep has heard it. The editors at want to know how you handled those customer interactions and managed to turn a bad customer experience into a great one. Tell us about your most rewarding experience as a customer service rep – our panel of judges will nominate their favorite stories and the top three will win American Express Gift Cards.

  • First place: $200 American Express Gift Card
  • Second place: $100 American Express Gift Card
  • Third place: $50 American Express Gift Card

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to everyone who entered!

First Place

During my 14 years as customer service manager for a Texas folding carton manufacturer, I had never encountered such a serious supply chain failure. We supply national distribution centers with fast food cartons, custom printed for a national chicken restaurant chain. The distributor ran out of safety stock in two days, while our railcar was stuck in the mountains due to a train derailment. The back up road team drivers also ran into a series of unfortunate events. When this first started, management was resistant to my suggestion of air freighting the cartons due to the cost. As days went by, the customer was threatening the entire account if their restaurants ran out of cartons to serve their product in. To make matters worse - it was Thursday before Memorial Day - their second highest sales weekend. It appeared the entire Pacific Northwest down into Southern California was going to be without takeout chicken. Now it was too late to air freight, and the DC would not be able to hot-shot deliveries everywhere -- oh why hadn't they listen to me? My mind raced as I though of the church events, the family picnics, and the loss of our account of many years. The pressure was incredible and the matter had escalated to where every VP, President & CEO within these organizations was screaming for answers.

First, I scraped together our safety stock, called in favors, pushed out other customer's orders and sent a third truckload out. Second, I rallied every available person -- there were 7 of us -- and with a list of over 300 restaurant locations, we hand wrote FedEx labels and sent out mixed orders of 1 to 5 boxes of folding cartons directly to the restaurants. We are located in the country, so I recruited our managers to become our rural route drivers. Using their personal pickup trucks and in shifts, they delivered the packages to the FedEx drop off site.

I spent the entire holiday weekend sending the buyers, VPs, Presidents and CEOs email updates with a map tracking the third trucks progress. I also tracked all the FedEx shipments. Out of over 1,000 packages shipped, only four stores did not receive their cartons until the Tuesday after Memorial Day. The Chicken Gods were with us -- those stores did not run out of cartons and we enjoy being their supplier still today.

Second Place

I work in the technical support department for a cable company. Our company is experiencing an issue with the IPG (Interactive Program Guide) losing information on converter boxes due to a new feature that was added. The new feature is called iTV (Interactive Television). When a customer uses the iTV or EOD (Entertainment On Demand) the IPG will lose information. There was not a lot of advertisement done for this feature and most of our customers do not even know it exists.

I recently had an irate customer on the phone whose IPG was not working correctly. She immediately started yelling and screaming, saying she was not happy with the level of service she was receiving and that she had been having problems for about two months (the same time that the company added iTV). I apologized, and started to probe her for how she uses the converter box. I asked her if she ever uses On Demand (Channel 1). She immediately got defensive and started screaming that she does not use our EOD service because she goes to the movies. I attempted several times to calm her and explain that I was just asking some clarifying questions so I can better explain to her how to avoid this frustration. I then asked her to access the iTV service and asked if she ever used it. She started screaming about not wanting any extra stuff, that she never asked for this service and we should take it off. After apologizing several times and explaining why her IPG was not working, I was able to help her understand that the iTV offers her local movie listings for when she wants to go to the movies. She stopped yelling and said "Well I hope you are prepared to spend some time because I need a tutorial on this feature." I explained how to access the feature and showed her several different options to retrieve local movie listings. Her closing comment was "Wow, this is a great feature...I will use iTV more than the IPG."

Third Place

I once had a customer so irate about the premium services he was being charged for on his cell phone bill that he wanted the president of the company's phone number and claimed he was going to take us to court and have us fined. He felt he did not subscribe to the service he was being charged for and therefore he should not have to pay for it. He did not tell me what the problem was when he first called. He was upset about the conversation he had with the last agent he spoke to, who didn't show any empathy. He just wanted someone to explain why he was getting these charges and what to do about it. I asked him to call back on his landline, and I walked him through the process of cancelling the premium services. As a one-time goodwill gesture. because he was so angry, I offered to adjust the calls for him but explained that it would be only a one time thing. He felt that I took the time to help him, listen to him vent and walk him through the process to cancel the services. The interaction ended up with a kudos call to my supervisor. It was a very gratifying call because he took the time to give me many compliments and really made me feel that I had done my job well.

Thanks to our judges:

Lori BocklundLori Bocklund
President, Strategic Contact

Lori Bocklund is President of Strategic Contact, an independent consulting firm focused on helping companies optimize the strategic value of their customer contact technology and operations. Lori is a recognized industry leader in contact center strategy, technology, and operations. During her more than 16 years in the call center industry, 11 of them as a consultant, she has acquired an understanding of a broad spectrum of systems, applications, and operational environments. She shares her knowledge and experience through speaking engagements, articles, a two-day call center technology course, and her book, "Call Center Technology Demystified" (Call Center Press).


Don Peppers and Martha RogersDon Peppers and Martha Rogers
Founding Partners, Peppers & Rogers Group

Recognized for more than a decade as world-renowned experts, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and individually named to Accenture's global list of "Top 100 business intellectuals," Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. continue to set the worldwide standard in business strategy and consumer relationships. The two thought leaders are the founding partners of Peppers&Rogers Group and 1to1® Media the world's premier customer-focused consultancy and award-winning publishing dynasty. Founded in 1993, the firm is now a network of offices on six continents, serving Fortune 500 clients across all vertical segments. In 2003, Peppers&Rogers Group joined Carlson Marketing to provide clients with world-class customer strategy in an enterprise consumed by their commitment to relationships and results. The goal of the combined companies is to offer "one-to-one, end-to-end."

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