Stop Blaming the Customer Service Rep for Poor Customer Service


Saying ‘We value you as a customer and your business is important to us’ are lovely statements. But do those values show up in the everyday behavior of your employees?

You’ve finally found the perfect app. It’s become one of your most valuable business tools. So when you get a notification that there’s an update available, you immediately download it…only to discover that in the process of updating the app, the company has completely messed up one of its best features.

As a long-time, loyal customer, you decide to submit a ticket to get the issue fixed. (You would have called, but there’s no phone number to be found anywhere). A couple of weeks go by. No response. No visible action. And then one day, you get an email: The problem has been solved, and we’ve closed your ticket.

There’s no reference to the issue—in fact, no way to tell that they’re even referring to your specific issue. But assuming that they are, there’s no information about when the new update will be released, how it will solve the problem or what you should do in the meantime. All you know is that the ticket’s been closed, and only time will tell if the problem was truly resolved.

Well, there’s one other thing you know: As soon as a competitor comes out with another option, you’re going to be first in line to check them out.

While this scenario involves a seemingly automated email exchange, these kinds of problems happen just as frequently when there’s an identifiable human on the other end of the line. But is the service breakdown really the rep’s fault? Or did their company fail them by not equipping them to effectively meet customer needs?

It Takes More Than Words to Build a Customer Service Culture

We value you as a customer. Your business is important to us. Our customers come first.

These are lovely statements, but all too often, those values don’t show up in the everyday behavior of all employees. That doesn’t necessarily mean some people have bad intentions or don’t care about the customers. In many cases, it simply means they haven’t been given a clear process and framework to turn those words into action on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis.

While it’s clear that many organizations aren’t spending enough time and money on customer service training, even those that do focus on development for their reps often fail to get the desired impact in the daily work environment. It takes more than product knowledge and a script to help someone be customer-focused. Training, values and culture need to be aligned. A common language and process for how we treat people (whether internal or external customers) is the glue that brings them together.

Customer Service Training and the Value of Process

For customer service training to make a lasting impact both inside and outside the organization, it needs to be grounded in process. Here’s how an effective customer service process will serve the needs of your learners, your culture and your customers:

  1. Allow people to bring out their best, day in and day out. The best problem-solving process both enhances what people already do best and enables them to do it more consistently and effectively, because they have that anchor to go back to when they start to veer off course. By helping people align their attitudes and beliefs with the cultural expectations, it also provides a clear path to follow, one that makes the values tangible and actionable.
  1. Changes mindsets about problem-solving. A script or product FAQ only skims the surface of a problem. To fully solve the problem and build stronger customer loyalty, you have to go deeper. An effective problem-solving process helps people engage with the customer so they can discover not just the problem but also the true cause of the problem—as well as all the viable options for solving it. And it reminds them to follow up to make sure the solution really worked.
  1. Establishes a neutral baseline for accountability. When you have a common framework and approach for how customer service values translate into daily behaviors, you can hire, coach, evaluate and train to it. It’s impossible to coach to everyone’s personality. A process gives you an objective standard and reference point.
  1. Makes customer service a cultural requirement rather than a job requirement. At Gulf Power, customer service training isn’t relegated to a specific job title or department. Instead, the company launches with as many divisions and roles as possible—together—to build empathy and create consistent expectations across the board. They know that without buy-in and role-modeling from the top, the culture won’t stick. The common process makes it that much easier for everyone to get on board and on the same page.
  1. Creates opportunities to strengthen customer loyalty. While poor customer service can drive customers away, a good process can turn them into your biggest fans. After all, when you’ve solved a customer’s problem effectively and demonstrated through your behaviors and follow-up that you really care, there’s a good chance that customer will be more loyal than one who never had a problem to begin with.

We’re all individuals. We all have different motivations and personalities. And of course, we’re all human—we each have good days and bad days. A process is what keeps you anchored, consistent and aligned with the values the organization advertises to the world. Talking about a customer service culture is important, but a process is what helps create that culture.

 


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