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Customer Service: Stop Sabotaging Your Customer Relationships

If you've called for customer service recently you're familiar
with this recorded message "This call may be recorded or
monitored for quality purposes." I immediately think to
myself, "Oh great, here comes the game of 20 questions."

Now don't get me wrong. I spent many, many years training
Customer Service Reps. (CSR's). I'm all for making sure
customers receive the best possible service. What I'm not
for is the pre-scripted list of questions CSR's are required
to ask, regardless of whether they are applicable to the
situation at hand. I've seen some checklists with as many
as 25 pre-scripted "call quality" standards that CSR's are
required to use. If they don't, and someone happens to
monitor the call, they get marked down. Ludicrous I say!

Let me give you a few highlights from a recent call I made
to my well-known auto club:

CSR: What is the year, make and model of your vehicle?
Me: 2000, GMC, Yukon, Denali
CSR: There is no 2000, GMC, Yukon, Denali (obviously
it couldn't be found in her list of computer options so
she needed to tell me I was wrong)
Me: Yes there is, I drive it every day
CSR: What's wrong with your vehicle?
Me: I don't know. It won't start.
CSR: Does it need to be towed or jumped?
Me: I don't know. I don't know what's wrong with it.
CSR: Well do you think it needs to be towed or jumped?
Me: I have no clue.
CSR: Where is your vehicle?
Me: In my garage.
CSR: Can you push it out of the garage into the
driveway or the street?
Me: No. It's a full size SUV. I can't push it
anywhere.
CSR: Is there another way you can get it out of the
garage?
Me: No. It won't start.

Eventually, after I'd jumped through enough hoops,
the call finally ended.

Chances are it wasn't the CSR's idea to get her
laughs for the day by asking me stupid questions.
Instead, her own company sabotaged her ability to
quickly and efficiently take care of her customer,
by requiring she use a scripted questioning process.

What Could Have Gone Better?
For starters, rather than telling me that the make
and model of my vehicle didn't exist, she could have
said that she was having trouble finding it in her
database, and then asked for verification.

Next, instead of asking me twice about whether the
truck needed to be "jumped or towed", she might
have asked if I had any ideas about what could be
wrong with it.

And finally, considering that she already knew the
vehicle wouldn't start, asking a woman to push a
truck out of a garage seems a little unreasonable.

What Needs To Change?
First, re-think your call quality standards. You may
have too many standards; they may be too focused on
internally created "shoulds", with very little focus
on what matters most to your customers. Involve your
CSR's and customers in the process.

Secondly, empower and train your CSR's to think, act
and personalize service to best accommodate the given
situation. One size does not fit all, or even most!
Teach your CSR's how to recognize different communication
styles, and then how to adapt their personal style so they
can best relate to the customer as an individual. In
other words, teach CSR's how to treat customers how THEY
want to be treated.

And thirdly, continually ask for feedback from CSR's as
well as customers. Make time to find out what's working
and what's not working. Pay attention to what they have
to say. Make ongoing improvements that benefit everyone.
Repeat the cycle.

Companies spend thousands, if not millions of dollars each
year to acquire new customers, yet sometimes they forget
about how to best take care of the customers they already have.

Everyday your customers and your CSR's make decisions about
whether to stay with your company or go to your competitor.
Loyalty is built on good, solid relationships. Your company
relies on the loyalty of your CSR's to service your customers.
And great customer service can set you apart from your
competition. Take action now! Stop sabotaging those
relationships with unnecessary standards that don't really
matter to your customers. Your customers and your CSR's
will love you for it.

About the Author

Lora Adrianse is passionate about helping people build
dynamic business relationships in the workplace and with
their customers. She can be reached through her website
www.connectionscoach.com .

Lora Adrianse