Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Colors of Customer Service: How It Started

As a corporate trainer, I have worked for and with a variety of call centers. One of my first post-college jobs was working as a hotel operator for a major hotel chain, so I can definitely emphasize with what most CSRs experience on a day-to-day basis. On the flip side, I’ve been a customer too and I know all-too-well, the difference between good and bad customer service.

While working with a lot of the customer service materials, I was always amazed at the almost exclusive focus on the customer: what the customer wants, what the customer expects, what CSRs need to do to make the customer happy.

That’s what I had to teach, but here is what I knew.
  • Customer service representatives have one of the hardest jobs in any company.
  • CSRs compensation does not reflect their importance within the organization.
  • Levels of burnout are often high as much is expected of them and little is given.
  • Surly, disengaged, or frustrated CSRs do not give stellar customer service.
I couldn’t do anything about pay but I felt there was something I could do to address the burnout and disengaged issues.

Most trainers will tell you a central component in adult learning is addressing the question, what’s in it for me? For adults, it’s not enough to sit in a class because they are supposed to. Adult learners need to know why they are there. What is the benefit? What will this training do for them? How will it help them? What will they learn that they can immediately apply to their jobs?

The Colors of Customer Service attempts to answer those questions. It hits on the usual customer service touch points about hold times, answering the phone clearly and the basics of effective listening … but it goes further. It addresses many of the CSRs day-to-day concerns. 
  • How to stay engaged when answering the same questions day after day.
  • What to do to diffuse the residual emotion that remains after an irate caller.
  • How to effectively organize a workspace
  • Some dos and don’ts for creating a solid work team
I decided to write it as a short business fable (a la Who Moved My Cheese? or The Energy Bus) I wanted it to be a quick and even fun read.  Having survived years of academic text books, through high school and college, I learned the hard way that a dry reading experience isn’t usually the best educational experience! 

Currently The Colors of Customer Service is only available in Kindle, but I am working on  a hard-copy version that should be available via Amazon by the beginning of August! I’ll keep you posted!