The 6 Dreaded Words Of Any Contact Center Agent: “Let Me Speak With Your Supervisor”


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Nothing gets the attention of a grouchy CSR like the phrase “Let me speak with your supervisor!” Am I right? Don’t get me wrong, I know there is many an unreasonable customer that will kick a call into fifth gear completely unprovoked. Those aren’t the callers I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ones where the CSR either brought a bad attitude to work or their desk chair is simply too comfortable to move into action and help the customer. Before I go any further, let me make it very clear that I have been guilty of this many times and feel it’s best I confess before the comments start rolling in.

I recently took a piece of guitar gear to the manufacturer for a repair. After a week and hearing nothing, I decided to call. The CSR was friendly but without blinking said “We’re working on it and will give you a call when it’s fixed.” Ok fine. Not wanting to be too crazy, I gave them a couple more weeks and then called again. I’m pretty sure I spoke with the same guy and got the same answer. Ok fine again.

I waited a couple more weeks and called a third time. Again I got the same answer but this time I responded with “Can I please speak with your supervisor.” The immediate response was “My supervisor is in a meeting right now” to which I responded explaining that I’ve been waiting five weeks and have yet to receive a status update. FINALLY, the CSR put me on hold for a few minutes and called the repair center. He came back and said they were just working on the repairs and my gear would be fixed soon. No less than two hours later I had a call from the repair department saying my gear was fixed and I could come pick it up.

For all CSRs out there, here are some sure fire ways to avoid these 6 dreaded words:

  • Reinforce Good Customer Behavior! Don’t train your customers to kick and scream to get their way. By putting me off for five weeks the guitar company showed me that the only way to get anything done was to demand a supervisor. That is reinforcing the WRONG behavior.
  • Prioritize First Call Resolution! So often our priority is to get the customer off the phone. Not only is this bad customer service, it’s terrible teamwork. By trying to get the customer off the phone you are guaranteeing that they will call back and more than likely, they will talk to one of your coworkers. Your focus should be doing everything you can to resolve the customer’s issue before disconnecting the call. If you must disconnect, you can still take ownership of the followup.
  • Choose Your Attitude! We have ripped this many times from the book Fish! but it is so simple and so true. Choose each day that you are going to have the right attitude, an attitude that says “Yes” and “Let me see what I can do to make your day.”

When you think of these 6 dreaded words, what feelings does this conjure up for you? Do you have any other suggestions on how this can be avoided?

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


  1. As I often tell participants in customer service programs, the desire to speak to a supervisor is sometimes just a need to hear another voice validate what they have been told. Too often service reps take it personally or complain that their supervisor didn’t back them up.
    Obviously telling the supervisor what you told the customer and how the customer reacted is key to a resolution up the ladder.

    Thanks for the great article!
    Teresa Allen
    Author: Common Sense Service: Close Encounters on the Front Lines

  2. Teresa, thank you so much for reading my post. This is such a great point. If we as supervisors are properly training our front line agents it really should just be a validation.



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