3 Customer Service Myths

We have all had more than our fair share of bad experiences with call center Customer Service. When calling our local bank or utilities company yet having to talk to a foreign voice from a faraway land or being required to answer a bunch of questions before discussing the reason for our call or waiting on hold FOREVER and being transferred around from one department to another over and over again, it’s just incredibly frustrating when our expectations aren’t met. The most important thing to realize though is that the Customer Service Representative (CSR) on the other end of the phone isn’t the reason for your frustration and should be treated the way you want them to treat you. Positive actions yield positive results.

The agent doesn’t care about helping you
Customer Service Representatives (CSR) are only working for a paycheck, don’t care about the company they work for and are just serving their time while waiting for a “real job.” This is the common misconception that many consumers have when calling customer service. Although I’m sure there are many CSRs in call centers or offices around the world who may fit that profile, I can guarantee they are the minority.

Most CSRs are born to serve. In other words, they are most comfortable when they are helping people, which is why they joined the Customer Service industry. They want to spend their lives serving people and their end goal is to ensure you are completely satisfied. If you have a dispute, a CSR wants to help you resolve it. If you need information about a product or service, a CSR wants to answer your questions. If you need assistance with your account, a CSR will do everything within their power to help but please realize that their employer only gives them so much authority. If you are having a bad day and just need to vent however, remember, the CSR is not the enemy.

Yelling is the best option
Consumers should realize…the people they are calling are PEOPLE. Customer service or call center agents are trained to be efficient and help as many people as they can, as fast as possible while still being courteous, respectful and attentive to your needs. Think about your own situation. What would you do if someone walked up to you screaming? When you call a CSR about a problem, if you start off by screaming you’re more likely to end up in time-out like a 2 year old rather than quickly getting to the root of the problem. Why? Because the CSR must first determine how to coerce you into a rational state, determine what the issue is, then get to work on finding a resolution. Another tact might be to realize that CSRs speak with upset people all day and by you being the one person who is polite and pleasant, you might get special treatment.

The person you are speaking with on the phone is probably not the same person that caused your problem or grievance. If you take it out on the CSR, they will fall back on their training and resort to the company line, “that’s all I can do for your sir/mam” but if you are friendly and patient they will most likely go out of their way to help you. If the CSR can’t help you either because they were not empowered to do so, they were unable to understand your request or their response was unacceptable, don’t automatically assume that asking for a supervisor will bring you closer to your end goal.

Immediately ask for a Supervisor
Many people think that bypassing the CSR altogether and immediately asking to speak with a supervisor will solve their problem faster. Most people assume the supervisor has more authority than the CSR to handle the problem but honestly, the CSR probably has dealt with the exact same problem with dozens of other people and has a good idea how to help whereas the supervisor is well trained in conflict resolution and maintaining corporate policy.

CSR’s are generally more knowledgeable about the product, service or account than the supervisor. It isn’t the same as asking for a manager at a restaurant when your order was served incorrectly. In a restaurant, the manager is solely focused on just the restaurant, your experience and the productivity of the kitchen. In a call center, the manager is focused on CSR statistics, call volume, and in many cases, call escalations for multiple businesses that they support.

What it boils down to is this; treat everyone your calling with the same respect you would want if you were on the other end and you will more likely get the customer service you were anticipating… if not better.

Lorax: The American Story

As I was watching the Lorax this weekend with my family, my mind shifted to business. I couldn’t get over how the story of The Lorax correlated with America’s story over the course of the last three decades.

The Once-ler was a boy with Thneeds a great invention he developed with Truffula Trees. This boy, much like those who form corporations and manufacturing plants, started off as a good-hearted person, just trying to make something out of his great idea. The people of Thneedville were average people trying to enjoy life without paying much attention to the world around them just as American Citizens in the early 90s through early 2000s. America was on top, we were successful and profitable.

As the people in Thneedville lived their life purchasing air and living in a plastic world, they were shocked to find the barren land that surrounded them when their walls were knocked down. America holds a similar story of a “bubble burst” when the wool was removed from our eyes and what we once thought was prosperous, suddenly became a barren shell of what we once were. Why? What had happened?

Like the Once-ler who was only going to cut down a few trees but because of greed tore down the beautiful forest, our corporations and manufacturers lost site of the reason for outsourcing and began to outsource EVERYTHING. The barren forest outside of Thneedville is the great comparison to the American job market as it became bleak and hopeless. What was left of American jobs? No manufacturing…no customer service…no technical solutions… Just as the people of Thneedville who purchased life, one bottle at a time, we were losing one job at a time. What happened to The Lorax who spoke for the trees or the unions who spoke for the workers? Their hands were tied. There was no other way, right?

Ahh, but there was The Lorax, who had buried Unless, to be found by a young boy with a dream of trees. The American Dream was buried in the heart of people like me who say, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

So, what’s the moral of the story? In The Lorax, the people of Thneedville begin planting seeds to rebuild their beautiful forest. Today, business owners and executives need to begin planting seeds of new job creation in order to rebuild America. How do you think we should plant more seeds and bring back more jobs?