• Ty Givens

Why does Customer Service work feel thankless and border line abusive?

CX deals with feelings and emotions as a result of decisions made by someone who will never talk to a Customer. We must own their mistake, take it on as ours, endure and provide a solution. That’s the job. CX is a selfless role, hence the high turnover (desire to move up or out).

I was working for a company as a Customer Service Rep. A Customer called because he was missing an item from his order. The poor guy got me. I remember being so frustrated with being responsible for the warehouse’s mistakes, AGAIN and I didn’t see myself as “the company”. I felt that this angry Customer was frustrated with me. Because of course, it had to be all about me.

The Customer began yelling. With much sass, I asked, “Do you want the order or not?” I would have fired me, but I digress. The Customer said, “You need to go home, and start over!” and hug up the phone. Rightfully so. That man probably doesn’t remember my name. I don’t remember his. But I remember the company, and I’m sure he does too (and if by chance he’s reading this, I’m sorry Mr. Customer!! Call me today and I will deliver THE BEST CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE, I promise!).

The reality is Customers call companies to complain about and experience or a product. They’re not calling a person. Think of the last time you dialed 1800 anything… What was the name of the person you spoke to? You don’t know, but you remember the company you called.

The Customer couldn’t care less about who answered the phone or replying to their message, they want a resolution. CX is required to treat every contact as if it’s new. Never mind this is the 10th message about missed items in the order, they must treat it as if it rarely happens.

This causes CX to become angry with other departments: why is it okay for them to carry on in this way? Why is it okay that Marketing can put out unclear messaging? Well, it’s likely that the error rate for the warehouse is less than 1% and only 2% of those who received the message complained about the copy, but this isn’t context that CX receives. As a result, when forced to form their on conclusions, CX decides they don’t matter.

Customer Service/Experience (referred to as CS/CX respectively) is often the last group to be included on decision making, to have their input considered and dare I say it: valued by the company as a whole. On the other hand, it’s the only department that engages with Customers. I’m not sure where you work, but would the company exist if there were no Customers? I doubt it.

My Recommendations

  1. Marketing: Partner with CX for review BEFORE copy goes outI don’t work in Marketing, so I have no idea why this is a challenge. At the same time, Marketers don’t always work in CX, so they think all we do is answer phones. I digress…. It’s always a great idea to provide a copy of the messaging going to Customers to a designated member of the CX team. This person will know what Customers will typically question and can make recommendations that will help to control volume.

  2. Powers that be: Provide Context. Share the information you think may be useless, or unnecessary. I assure you, it’s neither. CX should know how many Customers will receive the message and why. As an example: this message is going out to 10k Customers who have not signed into their accounts in 30 days. This way when the Customer calls because they’re locked out or can’t recover their password, it all makes sense.

  3. Leadership: Teach CX they are representing the Company and a brand. Help your team understand that they are the company when engaging with the Customer. Any anger the Customer directs at them is actually a reflection of their feeling about the company, the product and/or the situation, not the person they’re speaking to. Once you accept that, the anger and frustration become easier to handle.

One on ones and team meetings are a great outlet for voicing concerns and learning from one another. It’s never okay to bad talk Customers in the space where people talk to Customers. Yes, sometimes Customer requests are unreasonable. However, sometimes they aren’t. Just be sure not to take things personally and remain open minded and focus on a goal of resolution. That will help. It’s all about perception.

Ty Givens is the founder and CEO of The WorkForce Pro, the leader in contact center success solutions. Her strategic guidance played an integral part in the global success of Thrive Market and ShoeDazzle. Givens is known for her ability to save client’s millions in revenue, improve call answer rates by over 40% and increase productivity by over 30%. She is a trusted advisor to many high profile clients within the e-commerce, healthcare and retail space making her one of the most sought-after strategists for contact centers. 

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ty@theworkforcepro.com  |  310-844-1172

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