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Tuesday April 25 , 2017
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Top Quality Customer Service

When you call the Customer Service department for any reason, you expect quality service.  Surprisingly there is still lousy customer service still going on today.  There are ridiculous hold times when you call.  And when you do finally get through to a real live person, you are either put on hold or you get lousy service.  Some of the factors that would fall into the lousy service category are; chewing while on the phone, snippy attitude, party in the background, or simply put, no help at all.  You might just get the person that’s more concerned with their co-workers issues than they are with yours.

There are ways to help give you the quality service that you want for your company.  This is your reputation out there; good service makes a huge difference.  You have your Marketing Department doing their marketing to drive business to you and it takes lousy service to drive it away.  What a waste of time and money!

Your training program:  If you don’t have an excellent training program for your CSR’s, you should get one.  A good trainer will also teach how the tone of your voice sets the pace of the conversation.  The trainer should teach each representative the answers to questions that will be asked of them.  You cannot blame a Customer Service Representative if they were not trained properly.  Some of the issues that should be taught are; billing (debits and credits), updating accounts, tracking orders if necessary, transferring calls, the correct hold procedure, entering in orders, explaining everything, and techniques to calm down an irate customer.

The Customer Service Representative should know the departments and the staff so if a call is transferred they will be familiar with who handles that particular area.    The representative should be trained in the proper way to answer a phone call.  Always say “Hello Mr. or Ms. (Last Name).”  Always verify accounts, this is so important.  Role playing in training is vital because you are throwing real issues to the representative to see how they can resolve the issue.  It also builds the representatives self confidence up as they learn how to handle different situations. The Customer Service Representative also must be made aware of repercussions of bad actions.  The Human Resource personnel or their manager can review all of the details with them.

If you already have a trainer in place, make sure they are doing their job.  Monitor them as well as the Representative.  Make sure that you let your Trainer know any new material right away so they can brief the rest of the employees.  If your Trainer is not up to par, your employees won’t be either.  This is especially true if you are running any types of campaigns, so you won’t run into issues when this one started or that one ended.  There might be pricing changes as well.  Everyone needs to be on the same page.

Let your Customer Service Department know what they can and cannot do.  It is very discouraging when you call numerous times and the problem could have been resolved the first time around.  A happy customer does not call back regarding the same issue.

Here are some helpful tips for the representative to know:

 

  1. Your greeting:  This is the most important because it sets the mood for the entire conversation.  Always remember to smile; it gets portrayed over the phone.   Your first phone call and your last phone call should have the same level of enthusiasm in your voice.
  2. Don’t interrupt:  Let the customer explain the problem to you.
  3. Repeat the problem back to the customer:  You always want to repeat the problem back to them; you are acknowledging the customer and you are clarifying what the problem is.
  4. Be specific:  Don’t second guess yourself or it will sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about.  If you do not have the answer to the problem simply say “I’m sorry Ms. Jones, I do understand that you are concerned about your bill, but let me get my (supervisor and another employee) who specializes in the promotion that you were given.  I’m going to put you on hold for a brief moment while I get (say the name) to take this call right away so we can get your issue addressed as soon as possible.  This is an extreme case.  You never want to put people on hold or transfer them, it is very annoying.  But in this case the representative did not know the answer.  You never want to give a customer misinformation.  If you don’t know the answer, find someone that does.  Even if it’s a call back, I want the correct information. Remember, with misinformation, there is going to be another call back to the company, and it won’t be pleasant for the person that answers that call.
  5. Give a timeline:  If the problem cannot be corrected over the phone, if it’s an issue that needs further investigation, give the customer a timeline as to when the problem will be resolved.
  6. Always verify:  If you are taking an order for a customer, please verify everything before the order is finalized.  Verify the bill to and ship to address, the item and quantity, color, size, the amount of the order, and when they can expect to receive it.  Also, give them the order number so they have it.
  7. Ending the conversation:  After the issue has been resolved with the customer, make sure that they are satisfied before you end the conversation.  Ms. Jones, have I answered all of your questions today?  Or, Ms. Jones is there anything else that I can help you with?
  8. Log your call notes:  This is an ongoing Customer Service issue.  I cannot explain to you enough just how important those call notes are.  And this is probably where some representatives get real lazy.  If there is a known issue, it should be tracked properly; it is all part of getting the issue resolved.  The representative should think of it this way; an irate customer calls in demanding a supervisor and you can’t get any information and the customer is insisting that they have called numerous times regarding this same issue, but there’s no call notes in their account.  That means the customer is getting aggravated because they have to explain everything all over again each time they call.  This is your co-worker not doing their job, not the customer’s fault.

Do you remember the good old days of good Quality Customer Service?  Here are some pointers to help you when you need to speak with someone in Customer Service.

  1. Try and be pleasant, it is not the representative’s fault; they are there to assist you.
  2. Make it very clear what the problem is and how you want it rectified.
  3. Are your expectations within reason?  By this I mean, can the Customer Service representative really help you, or are you looking for the sun and moon which only the Supervisor or Manager can give you?
  4. Keep track of your time:  Has the issue been resolved?  Are you talking another 5-10 minutes about Uncle so and so?  I will get into the reasoning behind this a little further.
  5. Remember, just because the person is on the other end of the phone, you have no right to disrespect them especially when they are trying to help you.
  6. Acknowledgment:  If you had a good experience on the call, let the representative and the Supervisor know.  Just the acknowledgment alone makes a big impact.  Some people mail in letters acknowledging the good service they received.  That could mean the difference of a raise to that representative.

There have been a lot of changes over the years the way Customer Service Representatives do their jobs.  Before, it was all about “focusing on the call.”  But now things are so different.  There are so many other tasks that have to be done.  While on a call the representative might be in a whole other account posting payments or issuing credits or something else.  There are mixtures of calls as well, meaning, that some companies have the representatives making outbound sales calls, or call backs for Customer Service in between their incoming calls.  The companies are simply trying to get the maximum for every dollar being spent, and there is no down time.  So company’s think that they are saving money and are efficient.  I think that we might have been spoiled by the service we use to receive.  Now a customer service representative better be able to do five different things at once while watching their talk time, hold time, time to do reports, answer emails, post payments, credits, listen to voicemails and take care of those 100 calls holding. All of these things are all top priorities.  I know there are companies out there that find it hard just to get the representatives off the phone for training purposes.  That’s sad because your business will suffer; all because your representatives are not being trained properly.

Timing is everything.  Have you ever noticed when you go through a drive thru that your time is being kept track of?  Everything is timed.  We must hurry to hurry.  The day we are not so rushed, our quality will increase.  If you can get the problem solved and get it done in one minute you are a professional.  There is no time to build a rapport like before.  There is no time, for any type of relationship building.  I feel that our technology is to blame for a lot of this.  I love technology; I love to be the first one with the fastest internet, or the best new phone, or any new gadget known to man.  But it is taking away bits of our life and worst yet, our children’s lives.  They sit and play video games; they play them at home, in the car, everywhere.  They have their ipod plugged in all the time as well.  When do they have time to think?  To listen to crickets, their own heart beat.  When do they have time to dream?  That is just one reason; the other one is no one has time to communicate anymore.  We will not know how to actually hold a conversation.  We all need that interaction.  When a customer use to call in about their bill and you would hear stories about Uncle Bob and it would put a smile on your face.  Now, solve that issue and move on to the next.  I think we’re turning into robots, and it’s very sad.  We are a society that wants everything now, and that’s what we get.  Personally I want everything a little slower, because I’d like to say hi to you and see if I like doing business with you.  And if I had my own customer service department, I wouldn’t compromise my integrity.  And you better believe I would be calling in a lot.  I would have everyone I know call in and rate my team, because my team is an extension of me.

Getting down to the nitty gritty about good service.  We all know that there has to be a need for the product or service but besides the need there are other factors to consider.  Is it cost effective?  Is the service within a comparable price range of other companies that are offering the same product or service?  What is the level of service that you have been receiving?   When you receive your bill in the mail, mark down a number from 1-10 and start looking closely at the companies that you do business with.  Companies won’t and cannot change the way they do business unless they know there is a problem.

Something as simple as a smile goes a long way.  It is often hard and aggravating on both ends of a telephone call.  But please be kind and patient with each other and it could be a pleasant experience.

Comments  

 
0 #7 Tami Principe 2013-02-28 16:27
Madonna, I am not sure how I missed your comment. But, thank you for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts. Customer Service is so vital to a company. They can produce a product, market it, etc, but it's all about the way a customer is handled that speaks volumes.
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0 #6 Madonna Robinson 2012-04-05 22:35
Hi Tami,

I agree with you. If companies spent more time and money focussing on customer service, then they wouldn't need to spend ridiculous amounts on advertising and marketing.

It's not rocket science that we do business with people we like. Can't imagine why that message has not gotten through yet.

Madonna
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0 #5 Tami Principe 2012-03-02 14:30
Thank you for reading and posting your comments Roy and Christi. I appreciate it very much. Companies put so much time and energy into marketing and growing their business that it takes just one dissatisfied customer to scare a flock of potential customers away. Companies can run all the price comparisons and cost savings reports they want, but customers want to be heard and acknowledged. After all, they are keeping the companies in business.
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0 #4 Christi Johnson 2012-03-01 12:31
I tell you what...nothing gets on my nerves more that BAD customer service. Years ago, Sprint was so horrible that I dropped my contract with them. More recently, they are great at customer service. Maybe you should send a copy of this article to Bank of America customer service representatives ? ;) Great read!!
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0 #3 Roy A Ackerman PhDEA 2012-03-01 11:57
I am not sure I agree with you that timing a customer interaction renders it less quality-prone. If one practices sufficiently, it may seem like a rush to one looking in from the outside, but it's a carefully choreographed dance step.
We don't think that firemen don't provide quality service when putting out fires- it's rushed, but practiced and everyone knows their part. That's the goal which your enterprise should develop and achieve.
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0 #2 Tami Principe 2012-03-01 08:37
David, thank you very much for taking the time to read my article and posting your comment. Wishing you a terrific day!
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0 #1 David Leonhardt 2012-03-01 08:32
Very detailed tips. If only all companies would follow this advice.
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