Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Customer Service

A big part of our job is, well, customer service, to be blunt. Like the clerk in a store or the ticket agent at our favorite airline, we provide customer service. We determine what the “customer” wants and needs are and give them the necessary information (go to court and obtain a restraining order or serve your 30 year old lazy bum of a son with an eviction notice) or obtain for them the services (an officer or guys with the little white jackets) needed.

Not everyone is happy with the level of customer service we provide. We are refusing to send an officer to talk to their out of control 15 year daughter and instead tell them to talk to the school counselor and learn to handle their child without using the boys and girls in uniform as a threat. A vehicle burglary is not handled with them same priority as a robbery which can upset the victim who just lost a chunk of their CD selection and has to wait two or eight hours for a Cadet or Community Service Officer to respond.

But we, as dispatchers, trudge on and try to serve the angry caller with the best diplomacy possible. We can’t point out to them how stupid and childish they are acting when they call in about a child custody issue. We can’t be blunt and tell parents to grow a backbone or a pair of cajones and deal with their children as an adult instead of their friend. We have to be respectful and try to assist.

Many a moon ago I worked for the Disney Corporation. Guest Service is drilled into you from day one and reinforced through monthly staff meetings and games and challenges. Respect for the other person, guest and co-worker, is always in the forefront as is trying to help the guest with questions or directions or problems being paramount. Leaving a positive impression, even when the other person has to be corrected and not getting exactly what they want, is required.

One lesson I like to think I have brought to my dispatching job from my time with “The Happiest Place On Earth” is the ability to acknowledge the other person’s problem without having to fake or express empathy. People call us with their traumas and dramas, sometimes brought on by their own actions. By the simple act of acknowledging their anger or pain or confusion can go a long way in calming the caller. You don’t have to say, “I understand” if you don’t. Just let them know you hear them.


The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

Hey, I wanna play games and challenges in my briefings!!!!

And does your agency dispatchers show respect to each other? hmmm.

Scott Pantall said...

I tell people that in our job information gathering comes first, customer service comes second. If a caller is in a dangerous situation I'm using my firm dispatcher/cop/drill instructor voice to get my point across.

On the other hand, customer service is a huge deal for us. I keep reminding myself that no matter what the stupid/petty/pointless problem is, the caller is calling me because they're not sure what to do and they need help.

I try to help every caller to the best of my abilities as a dispatcher, no matter what the problem because it inspires trust. If people lose trust in 911, then we have a problem.

Good post!

Cpdcoppurr said...

Loved this post......... I know it had to have been hard on the otherside of the radio.......things that cops didnt deal with, because you prioritized...... We thank you for that....... When we did get the BS call of a teenager out of control, you're right, we wanted to yell at the parent and not the teen. You raise them, you deal with them. Unfortunately, alot of those "upstanding parents" didnt do that and they get caught up in the system.........

Thanks for doing your job, I just wanted to let you know you were appreciated.

fern said...

In my opinion, Good customer service is necessary. I believe that treating the customer so politely makes them so comfortable and satisfied with your services.

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