The world is half-run by customer service representatives, don’t you think? Whenever you need to get a product replaced or refunded, you dial the store’s customer service number and a customer service rep answers your call and decides whether you’re eligible for refund or not, depending on how well you have convinced her that the product you have thought you cannot live without a few hours ago has been you know, defective. Or when you have to rebook your flight, the airline’s customer service rep assists and holds you up with exorbitant rebooking fees, after annoying you with endless verification questions. It’s like the consumer world is divided into two factions — the customers, us, and the customer service representatives, them.
The customer service industry is a huge business. It’s no joke to be part of this industry which basically pays you to get shouted at and be complained to. Big companies even hire offshore support for their products, depending on how wide their scope is. You might think that being a service rep is quite an easy job. What’s so hard about sitting down and facing your computer and answering phone calls, right? Wrong. Ask anyone who has been a service representative and you might realize why this job is not for everyone. Especially for those who cannot take foul words and irate calls. To be a customer service representative is to be a sponge, absorbing all energy, whether positive or negative, being thrown at the company by happy or disgruntled customers. A product, store or company’s success depend highly on the efficiency of their customer services support as these service representatives are the frontliners in firefighting. And no, we don’t mean it literally.
As a huge chunk of the business is put on their shoulders, customer service representatives should be impeccable and professional in all their dealing with the customers, annoying or not. In order for customer service representatives to claim high competency in their job, they must be the perfect embodiment of several traits and qualifications, which any employer would agree with:
1. Excellent Communicator
This is the most obvious and most sought after qualification. When the customers dial a particular establishment’s customer care contact number, the service reps are immediately on the line of fire. One must possess proficiency in oral communication to effectively assist a customer who has an issue with their service or product. It would be kind of difficult to talk with someone who cannot communicate well, wouldn’t it? A customer service representative should be able to discuss with the customer the store’s policies and regulations so the customer can better understand why his request for a refund cannot be honored. Someone who garbles their words won’t only piss off customers, but also miss the chance of a promotion.
The job description for customer service should include patience in the list of qualifications for a customer service representative. Why, half of the people you will be dealing with are unhappy and dissatisfied with whatever your company’s selling so they’re sure to be hot-headed and temperamental. A service rep shouldn’t lose his cool so as not to further ignite the customer’s flame. Patiently hear the customers’ complaints and gently explain to them the rules. Also, one may encounter, cough, cough, senior citizens at some point in his career so it helps to stretch the tolerance a bit longer than usual in helping them with their concerns. At the end of the day, a service rep hasn’t only made customers happy, he has also shown them a good example of excellent customer service.
A customer would love to talk with a cheerful and pleasant customer service representative, that’s a fact. Nothing irritates a caller more than a service rep who drones on and on in a monotone, as if the customer service salary he receives doesn’t compensate for his work’s non-existent fun factor. Come on, wake up! Receiving hundreds of calls everyday is not an excuse for a customer service representative to slack off and kill his customers not only with unhelpfulness, but also with indifference. The go-get-em attitude a customer service applicant exhibits during her customer service interviews should reflect in all the calls she is taking, no matter how tiresome and redundant the job has become. A good-natured customer services rep delivers an amazing customer experience that any caller would be glad to share with others.
“So how is the weather currently in San Antonio, Ma’am? I hope it’s not too humid. If it is, I am sorry that this issue with your undelivered package is adding to your discomfort.” How’s that for a wonderful conversation initiated by someone who answered a courier’s customer services number? Bring your customer’s experience with your company to a higher level by filling in the gaps and pauses with witty and smart topics for short conversations. Anything from the weather, to her favorite book, favorite travel destination, as long as you don’t ask for her age. A customer service job description doesn’t have “be chatty” on it but if it helps pacify your raging customer who has been expecting her package for two weeks already, then why not, right?
And this is not needed because your customers would want to see you contort your body into a pretzel. Flexibility for a customer service representative, according to a description of customer service, is being able to make compromises to the customer’s advantage, without putting the company at risk. Sometimes, a customer service representative has to go beyond what is written on his spiels just to ensure that a customer hangs up happy. But that doesn’t also mean putting the company he’s working for in a difficult situation where say, they’d go bankrupt if they give in to a customer or two’s request for a refund or return, even if it involves a brand new laptop or iPhone. Flexibility goes hand in hand with the next trait which is being a,
One who cannot quickly think of a solution in a limited span of time may have difficulty in succeeding as a customer service representative. A customer service job profile may require an applicant to come up with fool-proof answers to customer support questions in as little as a few seconds. Sure, you have various rule books and what-nots to guide you in troubleshooting issues but not all answers can be found in these tools. Sometimes, a customer service rep has to improvise to ensure that the problem can be solved perfectly. Your customer doesn’t have forever to figure out his new printer which according to him, he installed following the instructions on the attached disc. You have to think out of the box on some cases when following certain processes hasn’t delivered the desired results.
7. Sympathetic and Empathetic
A trick for all you customer service representatives out there. Whenever you encounter an incredibly angry caller who cannot and won’t shut up because she’s too mad at the company you’re working for, put yourself in her shoes. How would you like to have a huge amount charged to your credit card without buying anything? Or how would you like to be stranded in the airport for 20 hours? These people are only mad because there’s a reason to be. So it’s best that instead of going on and on about your policies, reading your spiel like how a seven-year old goes through his homework, take charge of the discussion and tell the customer what you would want to hear from a customer service rep as well, if you were the one who has the same issue. They don’t want to hear more apologies because frankly, that doesn’t help. Stop sounding like a robot because surely, that is not part of your customer service description.
8. Funny and witty
Any agitated customer would be comfortably at ease if he’s talking not only with a capable-sounding customer service representative, but also one who is funny and witty. Er, maybe some decades-old slapstick jokes won’t cut it but something along the lines of, “Sir, I know we promised to fix this discrepancy on your credit card immediately but apparently, someone has been slacking off at work lately so this wasn’t done sooner. We apologize for the delay but don’t worry, that someone’s gonna get fired.” It may shock the customer a bit but if the service rep is witty enough to follow it up with another one-liner, the caller who’s holding a bill with a $2000.00 unknown charge on his credit card would be chuckling before you know it.
These traits may not be included on the list for customer services description but customer service representatives of any major company would certainly be all these and more. There are no rules that state that calls to customer service numbers should always be uptight, formal and confrontational all the time. Besides, the best customer representatives are those who solve the problems of their swearing and shouting customers with a smile.
all images from google.com