February 15, 2019
Written by CONSTANTINE.
Im going to start this little whateverthehellitis about twenty-two years ago and a hundred miles away.
Around 1996 I was a support technician for a company called ‘Simply Computers (the people who love Pc’s. )’
This was long before I discovered I was autistic.
Due to the nature of the role, although I didn’t get on very well with my colleague’s, I did get on with the customer’s. I had many of the same social issues I have today which make it hard to make a phone call let alone answer one from a stranger.
Yet I would spend my days answering calls which ranged from the difficult to the bizarre with no difficulties. How did I manage this you may ask.
Authority and Information.
As a support agent I knew most of our products. I knew that every call would be someone looking for technical support with a product. I knew how to help them, and on the very rare occasion I couldn’t meet their needs, I had clear channels to escalate their issue.
I did quite well.
In 1998(ish) the business changed. It had shareholders and targets. We were selling 10 times as many products to 10 times as many customers and no increase in support staff.
We were told we had to have people off the phone in five minuets.
Often leading us to give a suggestion and ask them to phone back when they had tried it. Meaning customers spent days on lots of small calls each time becoming ever more impatient, tired and frustrated.
I explained to my boss that if I spent one hour on a call making sure the customer was totally happy. It ended in not only in a happy customer who is more likely to return and give good word of mouth praise, (surely the gold standard in advertising.) but often I would be passing the customer over to sales immediately as they would ask me for recommendations.
Result? A happy customer who is off the support call waiting list for good and increased company turnover.
My boss agreed, and as a punishment said I should carry on doing what im doing, but for corporate customer support.
I left soon after.
The point being, Autistic people with social anxiety issues can often overcome their anxiety with information.
If your autistic and you have phone issues. Try to make sure of the following.
1. The person calling you, gives you the number they will use before hand, so you recognise it.
2. Make sure they explain in enough detail to satisfy YOU, exactly what the purpose of the call is.
3. Make sure they Pre-prepare you for difficult questions they may need to ask you, and make you aware of possible outcomes and procedures.
This way you can ignore unsolicited calls without the anxiety that your missing something important.
Its amazing what we can achieve when we have all the facts and fear no surprises.
In part two, how I have been driven out of studying a subject I love by this very issue.