This is a true story of call center training that happened (March 2, 2009) while I was doing comm training (Day 7) for a group of technicians. To practice prepositions of position, we took a laptop from the lab and one of the technicians (unable to see me) walked me through removing the hinge cover, removing the keyboard, and removing and reseating the connector to the motherboard, and putting it all back together. You should know that this was the first time I had ever opened a laptop.
Next I chose a technician that, by his own admission the first day of training, said he had communication issues. I asked him to have me remove and reseat the hard drive. The catch was, I closed my eyes and did it as if I was blind. The technician could not see me either; the rest of the associates gathered around me (either to protect me from myself or the computer from damage I'm not sure which!).
Again, I had never done this before, eyes open OR shut. In perfect, calm, clear English, he guided me through locating the screws, finding the hard drive, removing and replacing it, replacing the screws and the battery. I had only 2 bits of help one of the trainees moved the loose screws a bit closer to me so that I could “find” them on the table without knocking them off, and I opened one eye as I replaced the first screw. Because the screwdriver was magnetized, I had a hard time getting the screw to stay in the hole, so I took a peak.
This associate did such a fantastic job that he got a heartfelt, warm round of applause. When we deconstructed the communication activity (i.e., What did you learn while listening to the associate and watching me?) they all resoundingly agreed that with correctly-paced instructions, careful enunciation and pronunciation and the right amount of patience, they could help a customer do ANYthing. This was not about technical skill (this technician is known to be good technically!) it was about the ability to transform words into a successful, warm customer experience.
Not only was it a rewarding experience for the technician (who clearly had progressed communication-wise) and his peers (who learned how to convey confidence and gain the trust of the customer), but for me, as well. As I was temporarily disabled, I learned, if only for 15 minutes, how important the senses of hearing and touch are and how great it is to get a technician who matches one's competency and pace.
Rocky Peltzman wrote a few other related articles, one of which is a widely read piece regarding “Accent Reduction“.