By Paul Mac Donald, UASA Executive Director
Customer service is all about solving someone else’s problems. It’s the start of a relationship that can last for a long time with recurring experiences driving revenues, profits and employment longevity.
It all starts with the customer service representative that answers the phone; the CSR. A CSR is a powerful, challenging and rewarding job; or can be. It’s powerful to know that a CSR has the means to return normalcy to a customer’s daily routine. It’s a challenge every day to exceed customers’ expectations for a myriad of reasons. It’s rewarding when customers and employers show sincere appreciation for efforts of a job well done. Not just anyone can excel as a CSR; it takes a special personality, attitude and regular coaching to succeed.
It’s long been said that the more experience you have the better you become at whatever it is you’re doing. Not necessarily so with customer service. In fact, the more you do this job, the harder it is to remain good at it. When answering 30 to 50 or more phone calls a day, it’s hard not to fall into the “CRS Rut”. The CSR Rut happens when a CSR becomes hardened, monotone, and uncaring of our customers’ needs. Working in customer service is almost always negative and can get depressing listening to others complain all the time about their failed appliances. A seasoned CSR will unconsciously anticipate the conversation, often rudely interrupting the customer trying to get to the bare necessities to complete the call. When this happens, the CSR puts their needs before the customers, inverting the fundamental foundation of customer service: solving someone else’s problems. Some customers will respond to the CSR’s rude behavior, some will ignore it, and some will just not do business with that company because of the CSR experience.
To avoid the CSR Rut, book more calls and WOW more customers, regular monitoring of telephone conversations with your CSR’s is required. It doesn’t matter whether you listen to recorded calls or disguise your calls; the key is to monitor the customer service experience consistently all year long. Regular coaching and on-the-job training is essential in avoiding the “CSR Rut”.
Here are 8 components of an inbound CSR call that if followed on every call will avoid the rut and guide you to a long lasting relationship with your customers with many recurring positive experiences.
a. Make it friendly, positive & engaging – try looking into a mirror while answering the phone – callers will hear your smile – it works!
b. It should be self identifying, offering your name and extension should you get disconnected
c. Ask how can you help? – asking open ended questions invites communication
a. Customers want the opportunity to tell their needs and to be heard
b. Be patient letting customers finish – don’t anticipate or interrupt
c. Take notes of key elements – name, address, brand, product, dealer, complaint, etc.
d. Engage with responses that demonstrate empathy and that you’ve listened – nothing says you don’t care more than asking a customer to repeat themselves
e. Gather qualifying details – sales referral, email address, installation details
a. To book an appointment – ask early and often throughout the call
b. Communicate with confidence that you can solve their problem
c. Communicate the differentiators and value proposition of the company
a. The service experience process of the company
b. Trip & diagnostic fee details
c. Repair rates – flat rate or time and material
d. An ETA call the day before to confirm time window of technician arrival
e. The follow-up satisfaction survey
a. Answer with confidence and authority
b. Ask to book the appointment if not committed to already – again & again….
c. If you don’t know the answer offer to find out and call back – don’t guess or make up an answer, you’ll get caught
a. Take responsibility for the service experience
b. Follow-up call regarding tech or parts arrival
c. Be proactive when parts are on back order or warranty concession required
a. Additional appliance repair while in home – no trip fee
b. Specials or additional servicers such as spring cleaning
a. Always say please and thank you!
b. Always do what you say you’re going to do!
Don’t let your business fall prey to the CSR Rut. The customer service experience starts with the CSR and ends hopefully with a loyal customer that wants to use your company again to solve their appliance needs.