This blog post is the third in a series of three that will offer helpful insights into improving your sales by employing better customer services practices. In the last post, we discussed how, as the leader of your company, you need to know that effective management starts by aligning values with goals and a day-to-day plan. While having a plan and establishing values is very important, a manager can only execute these objectives if he or she is surrounded by the right personnel. Like a professional basketball star or world-class violinist, superior customer service representatives aren’t born; they’re made. Therefore, we will examine traits to look for in hiring top-notch customer service reps and how to manage and nurture them to get the most out of their talents.
What to Look for in an Ideal Customer Service Rep
When hiring a customer service representative, one of the greatest abilities to look for is accountability. As a company, you always want to prove to your customers that you’re willing to right any wrong and admit when you’ve made mistakes. Customer service reps need to embody that mindset when speaking with customers. Rather than deflect blame or make excuses, your team needs to understand the value in being transparent and responsible with customers, as well as coworkers.
Customer service reps need to possess what are known as the “Three Ps”: positivity, patience and politeness. Oftentimes, we reach out to a company’s customer service line in times of distress, and the customer expects the person on the other line to make them feel at ease and that their problems are legitimate. Excellent customer service reps know how to not only solve problems, but do so in a way that is empathetic, calm and proactive. In the last blog post, we discussed the concept of active listening from the standpoint of the manager, but active listening is just as important for customer service professionals. Rather than passively taking in the message of a customer, an active listener gives their full attention to the customer and engages all senses to comprehend the message.
Lastly, look for customer service representatives who are loyal and willing to buy-in to a company’s goals and culture. To cite all the clichés like “squeaky wheels” and “weak links” to describe the negative impacts of an employee who doesn’t contribute to the betterment of a company, it is important to find talent that is dedicated to the common good of the company. If you have members on your staff who maybe have one foot out the door or appear to be checked out, their behavior can spread to other team members and create a toxic environment.
Getting the Most out of Your Reps
So, you’ve hired the positive, conscientious hardworking rep of your dreams. Now what? If you want to get the most out of your reps, you need to implement a strong training and development plan for all of your employees. For each employee, lay out a clear list of goals and objectives for them to achieve in a given week, month or year. Conduct quarterly or annual performance reviews that hold them accountable and let them know of their strengths and where they can look to improve. When introducing a new product or service, make sure you provide all the necessary literature and presentations so that your team can be as knowledgeable as possible when making a sale or fielding questions from customers. Outline and give your team a list of best practices to follow in the field. After all, it’s one thing to preach values, but they’re only useful if your team is enforcing them every day on the job.
When trying to cultivate the potential of your customer service reps, remember the importance of burnout prevention. Flexible hours, paid vacations and other benefits are crucial in managing stress levels and preventing an employee from burning out on the job. Try to urge your customer service reps to look into natural stress reduction techniques that can improve their mindset, such as meditation, diet and exercise.
Overall, customer service is a holistic practice and it moves throughout the entire company. Treat your employees with the respect and values you want to convey to your customers, and they will likely do the same.
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