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Customer Service Role Play Help Desk Communications Classroom Activity Assignment: Title of Activity: Sharpening Listening and Speaking Skills for the Help Desk Support Role Play Objectives: 1. Increase students’ awareness of the impact of verbal and non-verbal responses in workplace communication. 2. Help students brainstorm examples of effective verbal and non-verbal responses that prove or demonstrate respect, understanding, interest, and attention. 3. Provide students with opportunities to practice using effective verbal and non-verbal team-building responses within the context of help desk support. 4. Promote self-reflection on help desk styles and encourage effective communications. Rationale: One of the most frequently identified requirements for employment is the ability to work as a member of a team. In a survey of local employers, teamwork was listed as “the most important dimension” of employment. In addition, technicians who can help and train office employees are more likely to be promoted to supervisory positions. One component of good team communication is being a good listener, but not everyone, including computer technicians, are aware of exactly what constitutes appropriate and effective listening skills in the American workplace. The goal of this activity is to help our technical students to become more skillful and confident in using both verbal and non-verbal responses to promote team building and service in the workplace. If we can increase our technical students’ awareness of the importance and impact of effective listening strategies, provide them with specific strategies and opportunities for practicing them, and build their confidence using these skills; our students will become more likely to try out these strategies in the workplace. Customer Service Role Play Help Desk Communications Classroom Activity Observer Checklist: Circle the letter of your answer to each question during the role-play. 1. Did the technician maintain equal eye contact with the user (computer user). a. He/She had good and equal contact with the user. b. He/She did not have enough or had unequal eye contact with the user. 2. How did the technician show that he / she was paying attention while the user was talking? a. He/She used both verbal and non-verbal responses. b. He/She only used verbal responses. c. He/She only used non-verbal responses. d. It wasn’t obvious that he was paying attention. 3. How did the technician show that he/she was interested in what the user had to say? a. The technician spoke at approximately the same energy level as the user. b. The technician’s energy level was much lower than that of the user. c. The technician did not show enough interest in what the user was saying. 4. What did the technician do to show that he understood the user? a. He/She restated the gist or main point of the user. b. He/She asked the user a question to make sure that he understood the main idea. c. He/She showed he understood the ideas of the user by restating his/hers idea or by asking a question. d. He/She did not show that he understood the user. 5. What did the technician do to show he respected the users point of view? (Circle all that apply). a. He/She adjusted his/her tone of voice. b. He/She adjusted his/her rate of speech. c. He/She adjusted his/her choice of words. d. Other, ________________________________ 6. What sentences or phrases did the technician use that were particularly effective in encouraging a team approach to the situation? ________________________________________________________________ 7. Why do you think those statements were effective in bringing about a result that was satisfactory to all? _____________________________________________ Customer Service Role Play Help Desk Communications Classroom Activity Instructions: 1. Discuss the “Observer Checklist” to all students. Show examples of non-verbal communications and good listening skills 2. Have the students break out into groups of 3 ( or 4) and role-play three times. Each role-play is for 3 minutes. . Tell the students they are going to divide up into teams of three or four students to do a role-play. One student on each team will be playing the role of a frustrated computer user, who crashes his computer regularly by having too many applications open. A second student will play the role of the technician, who is called out on a service report to fix a computer. The third and fourth student(s) will be observer(s). The technician is to role-play or act out a common conversation with the user. The technician will try to “fix” the computer and train the user on computer skills. The user is frustrated, on a deadline, and doesn’t know why the computer always crashes. (If you like, you may choose another scenario that you feel is appropriate for you students’ interests). The technician is to do his/her best to listen to the user and guide the conversation to a positive result that user is satisfied with. The students will have about 3 minutes to do one role-play. During the role, the observers will circle their responses to the “Observer Checklist” questions. Then the students will switch character roles and role-play again the same scenario. Role-play a total of three times. Once they are finished role-playing, have the students compare their Observer Checklists and discuss their answers as a team. The team is to identify the technician’s verbal and non-verbal responses and evaluate their effect on the outcome of the conversation. 3. Each team member compares their answers to the “Observer Checklist” questions after the role-plays are finished 4. Each team brainstorms a list of effective team-building listening strategies for the workplace using the questions on the checklist as a guide. Write and compile, as a team, a list of strategies on the back of the “Observer Strategy Checklist” 5. In class, jot down on the board each of the teams’ list. Share and compare the lists as a class to find the strategies common to all teams. Look to find a new idea introduced by each team. Discuss further strategies with the class as time allows. 6. Compile the list from the board and redistribute to the students. Customer Service Role Play Help Desk Communications Classroom Activity Observations: 1. Some students wish to hide behind the computer instead of doing a role-play. You may need to turn off the computer monitor to redirect their attention. 2. My students are from CST 161-1 Support Windows 2000 Pro. They are technicians by nature. Their first response was to throw more hardware (add memory) at the computer problem instead of re- training the user . (User should have had less applications open). 3. Students who are managers in the work field, used this role-play to teach listening skills to their fellow team members. Separate your manager students into different teams to maximize results. 4. After the role-playing, the students continued to talk amongst themselves (within the same teams) during break. Usually the students would read the textbook or work quietly on the computer. 5. Here are the class’ observations of the role-play. a. Smile b. Say “It’s not your fault” to keep the user from becoming defensive. c. Say “This has happened to me”. Create a common ground. d. Tone of voice. “What’s the matter?”. e. Beware of STANDING over the user. Try to find a chair to sit next to the user. f. “What is the first thing you need to do” Prioritize the user’s time frame for solution and training needs. g. How can I prevent this is in the future? Maximize user’s production time. h. Add memory hardware chip to the computer i. Have an extra computer to move the user onto during diagnosis. j. Learn how to do solutions on the fly. Think on your feet.
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