7 Traits of a Great CSR: The Customer Experience Series
Perhaps your business – because of its size or structure or services/products offered – requires some level of reactive customer service in the form of customer service representatives (CSRs). This doesn’t mean you can’t become a customer-first company. There are plenty of customer-first companies employing large teams of CSRs, including Zappos.
However, just because your company is not selling shoes online or doesn’t employ a large call center like Zappos, doesn’t mean you don’t employ CSRs. For example, your receptionist (or anyone answering your phones or online chats) might be thrust into this role with the occasional customer issue. Moreover, if you’ve empowered your frontlines to solve customer service issues, then anyone on this team should be considered a CSR during these customer interactions.
Over the years we’ve known bad, good, and great CSRs; and there are seven common traits of the great ones that are worth knowing:
- They’re Patient. First and foremost, great CSRs are patient. They are patient with their coworkers, they are patient with their supervisors, and they are especially patient with customers. They know how to treat customers like orphans. They don’t force them to speed up or ask them to get to the point. Instead, they are patient as they allow the customer to explain the issue in their own terms.
- They’re Attentive. While great CSRs are practicing patience, they remain attentive to the customer. This means they listen. But more than that, they listen with a goal of understanding the customer completely. They’re not trying to think about responding as the customer speaks, they just listen with interest.
- They Genuinely Care. Great CSRs care about the customer. They take pleasure in helping others and it shows. They never look at the customer with an issue as a problem; instead, they see issues as opportunities to help others.
- They Communicate Clearly. It doesn’t matter what language is primary for a great CSR, they are all clear communicators. This means they speak directly and with purpose. They don’t use weak language and their customers don’t have to guess at the meaning of their words. Moreover, they don’t use a lot of colloquialisms or words and phrases that will confuse your customers. They express themselves clearly, they enunciate properly, and they make sense when they speak.
- They’re Knowledgeable About Your Products/Services. Great CSRs possess product knowledge – they must. These are frontline employees, and if you expect them to solve customer issues, they’ve got to have better than average product knowledge. They don’t need to be experts, of course, though the more product knowledge they possess, the better they are at solving customer issues.
- They Have an Ability to Read Others. Just like great salespeople, great CSRs possess the ability to read others. In CSRs, this trait allows them to understand what they can and can’t say to a customer. It helps them present their solution in a way that’s personalized for the customer; in a way that keeps friction low and satisfaction high.
- They’re Goal-Focused Closers. Beyond being able to stay focused on the primary goal (to solve the customer’s issue) great CSRs are also goal-focused closers. This means they use language just like a closer on a commissioned sales team. They speak using clear verbiage that ensures the customer understands the solution, any next steps, and (more importantly) agrees and accepts the solution.
For example, just like a sales closer, a great CSR might say something like, “Okay, Mr. Stauning, it sounds like if we do A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, that’s going to resolve the issue. Is that correct?”
When the customer responds in the affirmative, a great CSR reconfirms in no uncertain terms. “Great, Mr. Stauning, that’s what we are going to do. We are going to do A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, and I’m going to put that in motion right now. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Most of these traits can be easily taught, though some – like the ability to read other people – may require lessons beyond what you can deliver. Understanding this, it’s important to use this list when recruiting and hiring those who may be thrust into the role of CSR for your company.
This post is part of a series of excerpts from Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience, a book written for everyone in any organization that has customers. That is, it was written for those in both the public and private sector; and for everyone in these organizations. From the frontline, customer-facing employees to the CEO and board of directors.
Each chapter in Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience concludes with Key Learnings and Chapter Exercises to make certain you and your team take the efficient path to becoming Customer-First. As you’ll learn in this ridiculously short book, building and maintaining a CX juggernaut isn’t hard… in fact, it’s ridiculously simple. Buy it now on Amazon!