Why we need to redefine who is ‘ideal’ customer service rep
In recent years we have seen the role of customer service reps has changed dramatically. Given the plethora of self service tools available that companies have been splurging on, in most cases, customers are able to find simple solutions for themselves. They approach call centre agents for more complex issues, issues that they can’t resolve on their own. The gap between customer’s expectations and the actual ability of the traditional customer service agents to deliver on those is palpable. Customers are not looking for apology, basic troubleshooting or simple answers that are already available in self-help tools. They are looking for a solution.
If the call customer service agents are ill equipped to handle complex problems and tough customers, the cost is high. Irate customers, poor customer experience, customer dissatisfaction, loss of revenue and reputation, frustrated customer support agents and employee turnover are just some of the consequences you could potentially face.
Ironically, in today’s world of self-help, hiring right customer service reps in call center outsourcing companies has assumed more significance than ever. However, the question to debate and ponder over is what sort of people make the ‘right’ and ‘ideal’ customer service call center agents that can cater to today’s customers? How should the organizations prepare their customer service reps to handle increasingly tough customer support issues?
Different personas of customer service reps we have seen
Having worked with 1000s of customer support outsourcing agents in our 18 years of inbound call center outsourcing services business, we can broadly categorize them as follows based on their personality traits and customer handling skills. Before , concluding who should be your preferred choice of reps, let’s take a glimpse on what actually the several reps have distinct about themselves.
Commanders: These are people who hold strong views and are not afraid of voicing their opinion. They take pride in demonstarting their expertise on the matter but what really sets them apart from the flock in customer service outsourcing companies is their knack of keeping a control on the situation and their ability to direct the customer interaction as they deem fit instead of letting the customer overwhelm them.
Diligent Workers: Always working with in the set parameters of rules and regulations, these are people who work persistently with an eye on deadline. Whatever they say or do are always backed with facts and figures.
Out of The Box Thinkers: As opposed to hard workers, these are not the people who can be expected to follow the herd. It’s not that they do not respect the set rules and regulations but they are consistently looking for innovative ideas to improve the current procedures and processes. Only found in the best customer service outsourcing services companies, we feel that they are undoubtedly a valuable addition to your customer service team if you are not my way or high way kinds.
Empathizers: They take delight in resolving customers’ issues! An epitome of patience, they are great listeners and communicators. They seek to understand customers’ problems, behavior and motives.
Adjusters: Flexible in their attitude, they are happy to meet mid way with the customers to resolve the issue. They are happy to accommodate customer’s requests even if that means giving discounts and refunds to make sure the customer walks back happily.
Resilient Workers: Tough cookies, these are people who don’t buckle under pressure. They are able to sail through complicated scenarios without losing their composure. They don’t let what happens on the call impact them personally. We have observed that they find it easiest to survive call center outsourcing environment.
Competitors: Always chasing victory, these are people who strive to outperform their colleagues and are always looking to be on top in all the reports.
Why controllers ace their counterparts as best problem solvers
While good old virtues such as a good listener, eager to help others, service-oriented are still important in an ‘ideal’ customer support agents but they are certainly not sufficient in today’s day and time. Customers are incredibly impatient. Self-service tools and Internet are a double edged sword. If the customers are able to help themselves quickly and successfully using these, great, but if they don’t, God help the customer service reps who will have to bear their wrath! By the time, customers service reps, they are already utterly frustrated due to the amount of time they have already spent searching for information themselves or by the contradictory information they come across.
Customers are looking for straightforward answers and immediate resolutions from the customer support reps, which frontline customer service reps can’t always offer due to limitations in procedures, authority or time required to resolve. In scenarios like these, you need customer service agents who can ‘take charge’ of the situation instead of being swayed with the flow and letting upset customers make the situation more chaotic. They are confident decision makers and focus on diagnosing the key issue customer is facing and how best to resolve it. They would not hesitate to shun the beaten path of prescribed checklist and scripted answers if their analysis tells them that it is not required, specially if the customer has already spent enough time resolving it on his own because the likelihood is that he has already gone through the basic steps. Hence, instead of focusing on inundating customers with excessive choice, they give customers what they want- precise instructions, a comprehensive and personalized solution, presented in a way that takes into account both the context of the call and personality of the caller. These customer service agents channelize the discussion in a way that is focused more on telling customers what they should do rather than asking them what they would like to do with the aim of resolving the issue effortlessly as fast and as easily as possible. It is not that they lack they are devoid of empathy, they in fact we feel that they are the best in identifying the customer’s pain-point. It’s just the way they exhibit empathy that is distinct from others. So, next time you hire for your customer support team, do not reject ‘controllers’ based on the perception that they may not be the right cultural fit.