Wednesday July 25, 2012
Four words that agents of customer service need to perfect
I REFER to the report “‘Faceless’ service staff feel it at the receiving end” (The Star, July 24), and beg to differ, being in the service industry myself for the past 30 years.
When I started in the service industry, call centres and phone-in customer service hotlines weren’t the norm.
We provided face-to-face service to the best of our ability and got paid for it. Service=Wages.
Hardly was there any confrontation with or tongue-lashing from customers.
When we provided our service it was genuine and from the heart, and our customers could see it in our eyes.
That was enough to turn any doubts or misconceptions towards our products or representation.
Back to these customer service centres, when one is “faced” with an irate customer over the phone, don’t solely blame the customer. Although you are genuinely out to help them, they can’t see your sincere intentions over the phone.
From my experience with such call centres, I believe, that problems cannot be solved over the telephone. It has to be done face-to-face.
Those working in the customer service line need to know this: WHY DO CUSTOMERS COMPLAIN?
Is it something I have done or is it my training or is the product I represent inferior? Most of the time it is the latter.
Having worked at service centres and call centres for the past 19 years, I often ask myself why is the staff turnover so high in places such as these.
A lot of companies who have departments like these, have staff who lack the training on the finer human touches, knowledge of the company, self assurance, empowerment and basic interaction.
Most often, these staff are left to their own devices after a short period of training and asked to learn the rest on the job.
They are not given any empowerment where they can decide minor changes or requests when dealing with customers. And when this happens, most customers will blow a gasket and demand to see the manager.
What the modern day customer wants, when a certain service breaks down, is that the first person they speak to or call be able to at least solve part of their problem. The rest can be done gradually.
My recent call to a popular pizza delivery service was taken by a young gentleman, who LISTENED first, REPEATED my order, HANDLED my ad hoc requests and ASSURED me of the delivery time. These four words in capital letters are all an agent of customer service needs to perfect.
What kind of work is a bed of roses? All our work days are filled with challenges, such as complaints or being shouted at. If it is not your boss, it is the customer.
The secret is to look at what are the hidden messages that the complaint is carrying. You will be surprised at how trivial it can be.
All you need to do is to tell yourself, it is not you they are after, you are there just to provide them an outlet to vent their frustration and solve their problems.
ABDUL RAHIM CHAN