Anyone in the industry will tell you that people are the most important asset to a customer service operation. While CRMs, mobile apps and social media channels are essential pieces to service delivery, it’s the real interaction with employees (in-person or electronically) that’s going to make or break the overall customer experience.
With this fact comes a great deal of responsibility for both you and your employees. What’s the correct method of training? How can you create standardized scripts while maintaining a “personal” touch? How can you prevent one bad interaction from ruining a customer’s experience?
Although each of these questions could be answered with its own blog post—the overarching answer is to hire the right “customer service people.” And although this may seem obvious, traits that are valuable for customer service representatives are different from the traits of other professions. Bill Thompson listed a few of these customer service traits on Salesforce’s Desk.com blog. Here they are:
- Genuine warmth: A person that exudes friendliness, caring about other people and an upbeat and outgoing personality.
- Empathic: Able to understand other people’s feelings and relate well and be sympathetic to someone under stress.
- A good listener: A person who trends toward active listening in order to fully understand an issue or problem before acting
- Conscientious: It sounds basic, but it’s vital to have people who by their nature take pride in taking care of every little detail perfectly
- Anticipatory: This sounds as though it’s antithetical to #3 but it’s slightly different. A person who is excellent at anticipating cause and effect can save much time in not just answering the main question but also digs deep to make sure every corner of the customer’s problem is fully resolved by the time the conversation is over.
- Optimistic: Again, it sounds basic, but an optimistic attitude is vital in avoiding burn-out as the daily exposure to people sometimes in stress and not acting in tune with their better angels can drag a person down.
As you can tell from some of these traits, the best customer service people are the ones with a very particular personality—a tug of war, even, between loud and quiet personality traits. On the loud side we have genuine warmth, anticipatory and optimistic while on the quiet side we have emphatic, conscientious and a good listener. Because this personality is so particular—such a perfect combination between loud and quiet characteristics—it’s absolutely vital that once you’ve found this personality, you allow your employees to utilize it. Training and standardized procedures are important, but equally as important are empowerment. This means allowing your employees adapt to situations, to go “off script”—adapting to a situation and using the personality that made them such valuable hires.
In summary—hire the people with a “customer service personality” and give them the ability to use it. It is, after all, your organization’s biggest asset.
Rosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at www.rosettacarringtonlue.com