escalla delivered Dealing with Challenging Customer Conversations training to the contact centre at Adur and Worthing Councils.
Afterwards we spoke to Caroline Squires, service manager at the Council, to find out her experience and the impact it has had on their team.
ESCALLA: What was the scale of your challenge?
CS: Adur and Worthing Council serves around 170,000 people across the two boroughs. Our contact centre alone takes up to 1000 calls per day. As you can imagine, this asks a lot of our team, especially when you consider that many of these callers have problems or complaints.
ESCALLA: What types of calls do you get?
CS: Inevitably, we receive some calls from angry or distressed callers - often from people in housing crisis or who owe us money. Some customers were articulating serious anxiety and depression.
ESCALLA: How was this affecting your staff?
CS: Trying to empathise and give our callers the help they are entitled to while maintaining professional boundaries and staff resilience was the real challenge. Avoiding natural stress responses to aggression or vulnerability requires specific training. We recognised this, so got in touch with escalla.
ESCALLA: How did you find out about this Dealing with Challenging Customer Conversations course?
CS: I had used escalla before for revenues and benefits training. I got in touch again and talked about what the team's most pressing problems were. escalla recommended their trainer who delivered the Dealing with Challenging Customer Conversations course. After one phone conversation with the trainer I was convinced that he would support our team really well.
ESCALLA: Was the training useful?
CS: Yes! The course focused on helping our team handle aggressive and vulnerable customers, from both professional and personal perspectives. It showed us practical ways to approach conflict and handle difficult or stressful situations. You learn how to provide the best service to your customers, as well as to look after yourself as a call handler.
ESCALLA: Has the course been beneficial for your team?
CS: We’ve definitely noticed a shift in how our staff interact with customers. They are more assertive while still displaying empathy, but without ‘taking on’ the callers’ problems.
We’re now better placed to offer customers all available help while maintaining appropriate professional boundaries. Interestingly, colleague relationships have also improved, thanks to better awareness of our differing service styles; I hear staff talk about how best to approach someone with a different style to them. I've also put this into practice myself and found it very helpful.
I got comments from almost all the team to say it was the best training they'd ever had - because the trainer made them feel safe to share difficulties and suggested practical ways to tackle them. Overall, we’re very happy.
Thank you to Caroline Squires, service manager at Adur and Worthing Council, for sharing her experience with us.
Find out more about our Dealing with Challenging Customer Conversations course or get in touch to discuss your training needs.
“the trainer made the team feel safe to share difficulties, and suggested practical ways to tackle them.”
“the team say it was the best training they'd ever had”
"colleague relationships have also improved, thanks to better awareness of our differing service styles"