..A jump start for those new to the Customer Service industry.
Congratulations on winning your role in customer service! As someone celebrating six years in the field, I can say with confidence that there has never been a better time to choose support as a career. Whereas customer service representatives used to be seen one of the most entry level, dispensable roles in the company, the CX (customer experience) revolution has elevated it to its rightful place as a strategic and critical responsibility. The past 2208 days have yielded countless tears and difficult moments for me. Still, when I look back to consider the learning and growth that has taken place, I do not regret a single one. Here are the top six things I wish I knew when I first put on the magic headset…
1) Take Initiative – You will know two of the absolute most important things – your products and your customers – better than anyone else. This knowledge uniquely positions you to solve big problems. Carve out time each week to think about the challenges your business is facing and contemplate solutions. Be bold to offer these when opportunities present themselves (or create your own opportunities..have that elevator speech ready to go) Chances are you will bring something new to the discussion from your daily interaction with customers!
2) Be Consultative – Don’t become a “phone drone.” A service interaction is like a condensed marriage ceremony. The customer has come forward with a challenge. You as the analyst must combine knowledge of the product or service – with an understanding of the challenge – to find the best possible solution. Customer service professionals will often train often on a product or service they support, but rarely on the industry they represent. This will limit your ability to understand the customers’ perspective. By becoming an industry expert, you can transcend the question the customer is asking…reading between the lines to handcraft a better solution. The most exciting part is that you get to leverage your personality to make the interaction unique! Customers want to see the human side of you, and when done in a professional context, it will score major delight points.
3) Find External Inspiration – Chances are 99% percent of your company believes they are customer service experts. If you have a reasonable level of soft skills then you can make customers happy right? This could not be further from the truth. Customer Service is a science as wondrously complex as any other business discipline, especially when done proactively. Find a community of service professionals that will educate you, challenge you and inspire you to raise the bar on your level of service. HDI (www.hdimusiccity.com) is a fantastic one in Nashville. If you do not have access to this type of community, you can engage in one virtually through several LinkedIn groups and HDIConnect.
4) Take Pride in Being the Voice of the Customer – You are the primary vehicle for customer feedback. Take pride in this! Don’t just throw customer feedback over the fence. Own it, live it, build it into a compelling story. The customer may be ignored in the wake of internal initiatives if service professionals are not vigilant. The feedback you are receiving should be driving business decisions for the rest of the organization.
5) Go Beyond the Call – When you are on the phone with that customer, it is your privilege and responsibility to do a fantastic job with that interaction. Do not allow yourself to multitask by typing, texting, listening to music etc. as tempting as this will be. Customers are smart – they will notice if your attention is divided. When you get off the call, your work is not done! Be proactive, and think about the root cause. Why did we get this call? Could it have been avoided? Is there a way this customer could be a guided to a better resolution path such as self-service? As you discover trends bring them forward! It is this type of strategic thinking that will set you apart as a service leader vs. a competent rep.
6) Situational Awareness – Knowing the rest of the business will bolster your ability to offer outstanding support to both internal and external stakeholders. The more you personify knowledge management, the more you will be viewed as the “go to” person. You will want to be top of mind when a solution is needed, as this will also apply when new opportunities become available. Make an intentional effort to get to know people from each area of the business understand their challenges. As the big picture becomes clear, you will be the one to connect dots others miss.
I sincerely hope these principles will help you get off on a great foot! There are so many more. Support Veterans – What advice would you offer our new friends to the customer service industry?