Friday, 25 March 2011

Who are you talking to?

The idea that you can profile your callers as one of several different archetypes is not, by any means, an original one. This list started when a co-worker told me he had just completed one of the longest 'Columbo calls' of his life. The concept was so fitting that I started looking for more common customer types. The six I have decided on so far:

The Columbo - Named after Peter Falk's Lieutenant Columbo character whose interrogation style always ended with "just one more thing." Likewise, a Columbo customer starts with a single issue, but once that issue has been resolved and the call is about to end, they always seem to come up with "just one more thing." This is not to be confused with a Bob Wiley that keeps you on the phone for companionship.

The Bob Wiley - Named after Bill Murray's character in What About Bob, this caller will make small talk to fill the little silences while you work on their issue, which at face value doesn't seem that bad. It is afterward that the Bob Wiley's show their true colors. They crave human contact and now that they have got you on the line, they won't let go. Most support lines dictate that the customer has to end the call, if that describes your company, kick back and enjoy your chat with Bob.

The Jehovah's Witness - This type of customer is not calling to have you figure out what they need to resolve their issue. They already know the answers and just need you to come around to their way of thinking. This type of caller will not take 'no' for an answer, but instead will keep pushing for the resolution they feel is correct. Unfortunately, they usually only become evident when policy is in direct conflict with their desired result. Like their namesakes they have no qualms about escalating to a higher power. By the end you just want to tell them to get off your porch.

The Grandpa Simpson - To quote Abe Simpson- "I'm old. Gimme, gimme, gimme." This type of customer feels that for some reason, be it age, brand loyalty or just delusions of gandeur, they deserve more from you and/or the company you represent. Oftentimes their expectations are ridiculously out of proportion to their actual contributions. For example, a customer that wants a free upgrade to a more powerful computer because they spent $1000 on your company's products last year.

The Scrooge - A Scrooge customer is one that does everything with a view to saving money. They may trim down computer specs to ludicrous amounts just to save a buck and/or argue about every single line item in an invoice. They have been known to become confused and frustrated when they cannot install software because they ordered a computer without a DVD-ROM. And it's your fault, somehow.

The Cliff Clavin - Know nothing know-it-all. The kind of customer that claims they know what they're doing and will become upset if you ask them to repeat steps they claim to have completed or 'talk down' to them in laymans' terms. They typically have some certification and/or years of experience that will tempt you into treating them as a peer, but when push comes to shove they will need to be hand-held through basic procedures. Example: An A+ certified tech that doesn't know how to force a hard-shutdown.

The list is subject to change as I come up with better examples/names or new archetypes become apparent.


  1. I love your profiles. All the more funny to me as well because ... hey ... I have some of those too.

    I have many Cliff Clavin's call! Those who insist they know the law and get most upset especially if I quote the law to provide support for my position .. they are upset for the exact same reasons as you quote.

    Those calls always end with me hanging up and talking to the phone saying .. and exactly why did you bother calling. Which is when someone walks by and is sure that I have totally lost what little sanity I have left .....

    just sayin.....

  2. I think you've got a good start on a best seller. Keep adding to the pile.