Dealing with difficult situations

Now and again, our customer support teams find themselves dealing with difficult, sensitive situations. Here's how we handle it.
By Team member, 22/02/2019
3 minutes read

Working in Customer Operations (COps) at Cuvva is quite different to similar roles elsewhere. We don't follow a script. Instead, we approach each conversation individually and tailor our support to the customer we're chatting to. We interact with our customers in the same way you would with a friend. 💬

Our day is usually filled with chats in which we help people sort out their insurance, doing things like helping them to get to work or borrow their parents ride for a small trip. 🚘

The vast majority of the time, these chats are about common issues that we see regularly - things like difficulty completing their purchase or questions about how our cover works. But sometimes, we find ourselves in difficult situations that aren't always possible to pre-empt or avoid. These come around from time-to-time and tend to differ greatly.

Sometimes we chat with people who are facing personal issues at home, have had their debit card stolen, need to get to the hospital, or are even in a financial pickle. More rarely, we've needed to contact the police to help protect someone in danger, all while chatting with the customer via the app.

While we work together to prepare for as many scenarios as we can, it's inevitable we'll come across a unique issue every now and then.

How does Cuvva differ in its approach?

We try to maintain our 1 minute initial response time, regardless of the situation. This means the person talking to us can be instantly aware that we know about their situation, and are looking into what they need. This is the case for every customer, but it's even more important in a situation where someone needs our help beyond the typical questions about price or how the app works.

In the case of a new, tricky or sensitive issue, we'll then get in touch with our colleagues and senior members of the team on Slack (our internal communication platform of choice) and quickly, yet thoroughly, discuss the best way to help.

Whilst the response time is important, we still make sure we always offer meaningful support. We keep the conversation fluid, discussing the situation so the customer knows we are there, and we're doing what we can. 👍

What we've learned

After any new encounter, we'll do an in-depth debrief of the situation, looking at what happened, how we dealt with the situation, and what we could do to provide further guidance to the team if it were to come up again.

At the end of the day we're human too - we know things don't always go as planned. This is why we always try our best to empathise with our users, helping as much as we're able, to tackle whatever life throws at them.

But it also means that sometimes, a conversation can hit us "right in the feels" or make us feel vulnerable. Off the back of our debriefs, we also hold training sessions to give the team the support they need. We make sure we have the right support in place for the team so they're able to handle future situations with reassurance that they're doing the right thing.

Of course, this isn't always possible, but we have the procedure in place to escalate a more challenging query to a senior member of the team if necessary. For example, after one scenario in which we had to call the policy for emergency assistance, we realised that we were not prepared for such situations. 😕

Calls to 999 and 101 are geographically routed. This means calls from London (where we're based) are connected to emergency services in London. If the customer is elsewhere in the country, we're unable to call those lines for help.

So we're building up a list of direct emergency and non-emergency phone numbers for each police force. The next time we have to deal with a potential life-and-death situation, we'll be well prepared regardless of where we are in the world.

We have a roundtable every two weeks where the whole COps team get together (or tune into the live stream from home if they're working remotely). 👩‍💻This gives us the ideal platform to share experiences we have had, and talk about what we have learnt to make sure the team are better prepared in future.

By working together, we can ensure we're giving a human, honest, and tailored response to each situation.

Team member