Don’t Let Service Reps Ruin Your Reputation
First impressions are everything. Here’s how to avoid being called out — and potentially losing business — for poor customer service.
If I took a poll of everyone reading this column and asked: “Have you ever had a negative experience with a customer service representative [CSR]?” I’ll bet 100% of you would respond, “Yes.”
Of course you would; we’ve all been there. I’d say that we tend to remember the bad calls more than we do the good calls with CSRs. Considering the ever-increasing role that social media plays in our businesses, we can ill afford to have customers leaving negative reviews about our companies through these channels.
But when customers have positive interactions with CSRs, they will leave glowing reviews and often mention the service rep by name. There is no better advertisement for your company than for a customer or prospect to leave a review like, “I just spoke with Jennifer and she was incredibly friendly and helpful.”
Jennifer just became a very effective salesperson for the company. We all work very hard attracting new prospects and bringing on new customers, but afterward, sometimes companies don’t put the same diligence and effort into how their customers are treated when they call into their businesses.
In other words, some companies see signing a new customer as the finish line, when it’s actually the starting line for your customers. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure you have the right person on the phone at your office and at your central station to serve your customers when they call.
Importance of Phone Interactions Can’t Be Overstated
I often refer to CSRs as “Directors of First Impressions”; however, it’s probably more accurate to call them the “Directors of Most Impressions” because many of the interactions you have with your prospects customers begin with a phone call involving this personnel. With each call, your customers leave with a lasting impression — good or bad.
When a CSR answers your company’s phone, it is perhaps the most influential interaction that a prospect or existing subscriber will have with the dealer. If a CSR answers and has a bad attitude, or even worse, if they become confrontational with the caller, that experience will likely cause a prospect to look elsewhere and make your existing customers wonder if they chose the right company to protect them.
This all seems very rudimentary and preventable, but the sad truth is this happens in the alarm monitoring business every day. Company owners spend so much time and money on marketing to generate prospects, it’s a shame to have a noncaring CSR undermine the efforts.
No matter the size of the business, the person answering the phone (even if it’s the owner) should have an understanding of the importance of interacting with customers and prospects. As a business owner it’s important to pay close attention to how your incoming calls are being handled.
Beyond mere supervision, I would recommend having written protocols for CSRs and train them on what is expected when interacting with customers. Things like: Positive tone of voice, clear enunciation, expression of sincerity, use of caller’s name and ensuring the customer is satisfied before ending the call can all lead to a positive customer experience.
Training, Supervision, Role Playing Can Assist
Training (even role playing, or script following) on how to handle irate callers may be the difference between saving a customer or running them off. If a CSR is curt or confrontational with an upset caller, the situation will just escalate.
Instead, your CSR should be understanding, empathetic, and express a desire to help. After the caller relaxes (and they will, if treated right), your CSR should assure them their issue is important to the company and that it will be addressed promptly.
Honestly, it’s not rocket science, which is probably why many business owners tend to take customer service training for granted. I’m amazed on how many times I’ll call a business, or doctor’s office, or you name it where the CSRs are apathetic, uncaring, not friendly and are not helpful in any way.
In fact, there have been many instances in which I’ve felt like I was somehow annoying the person just by calling their business!
Whether the root of poor service is lack of proper training or owners not paying attention to their employees, in either case I know what I do when I’m treated that way — I go somewhere else. Everyone reading this really ought to take a moment to listen and understand how your calls are being answered.
If you’re looking for more of a real-world scenario, it might even be a good idea to evaluate your CSRs by having friends or family call into your business and then reporting their experiences back to you.
It is much better to sharpen skills and identify issues now than to find out your company is being represented in an unflattering way later. Of all the things that can have a major impact on our businesses, this is the easiest to manage but the most frequently over-looked. Taking it for granted may cost you.
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