Monday, October 5, 2009

Thank You for Calling Back

As promised I wanted to finish my two part series covering customer service over the phone. I am really grateful for the responses I got from the last post. This is something that affects us all. We have good and bad experiences and it seems when talking to people, there's a lot more of the latter than the former.

To briefly recap the last post, my tips focused mainly on knowing what you need, determining the pace of the customer service rep, and tips to win them to your side. Most of the time, they can make things happen to your favor, but when they can't, a sign of a good rep is that he or she will try to find you some satisfactory alternative.

So what happens when you don't get that savvy employee who knows the in's and out's of the company? What can you do to get what you need from someone who's new at a company? This can be one of the more frustrating experiences, and a lot of these will only work depending on the circumstance.

A new phone representative has a script. Their script covers everything from the greeting to the salutation with little in between outside of listening and following a guide to problem solve. The best way to detect this person is to notice and recognize how fast you're put on hold. If you have an unusual circumstance, this new person has to consult a supervisor or a senior training partner to get insight on how to resolve the issue.

This rep really is going to be more sympathetic and eager than the veteran we discussed previously. When I think back to those days when I first started as a service rep, making sure I took good notes and listening to the customer. I learned there are gray areas and reasons for exceptions. I know during my learning process, I was frustrating customers left and right. I would just suggest keeping in mind that some people are new and learning on the job, but with empathy, they can be just as helpful as an expert.

I realized after starting this post that it was going to be considerably short. I wanted to turn the focus to those of us in customer service about attitude. At every job, I've noticed a condescension towards customers because once we learn and master our craft, we forget that at one point, we didn't know all the answers. It's easy to assume the customer calling is an imbecile and shrug off our jobs to provide service.

This tone is heard by the customer and it's a big reason why the field itself is in such terrible shape. I'm the last person on earth that will tell people that preform this labor of love day in and day out to smile for every call, that is just not possible. It is important to remember that the purpose of the job that secures that paycheck is to have an attitude of helpfulness. Try to put yourself in the customer's place and recall that there was a time that you didn't know near as much then as you do now.

Bottom line: on each end of this conversation is a human being. Remember that, respect the person, and communicate. It's up to all of to us to make sure that communication does not become a lost art.