Monday, November 23, 2015

14 Techniques to Improve CSR Performance

14 Techniques to Improve CSR Performance

The first point of human contact between your company and your prospects and customers is your customer service representative (CSR).  The CSR sets the tone for everything that happens.  Good CSRs close more calls while bad CSRs drive away business.  Here are 14 actions your CSR can take to improve performance.

1.     Give Choices

Giving customers choices between something and something, instead of something and nothing is not new.  It is effective.  Instead of asking if Monday is good, ask whether Monday or Tuesday would be better.  Instead of asking if the customer is interested in a service agreement, ask if the customer would rather pay regular prices or the discounted prices service agreement customers pay.

2.     Assume Yes

As Charlie Greer likes to say, people do not call just to chat someone up.  They call because they have a need or problem they believe the company can solve.  Assume a serviceperson will be dispatched and proceed accordingly.

3.     Say What You Can Do

CSRs should banish the words, “no,” “can’t,” and “won’t” from their vocabulary.  Tell people what can be done, not what cannot.  Instead of saying, “We can’t/don’t/won’t do that,” say “Here’s what we can do.”  Or better yet, “We can do X or Y.  Which would you prefer?”

4.     Take an Acting Class

Once we hired an unemployed professional actor to work in our call center.  Rejection never bothered him.  Angry or abusive customers never bothered him.  He was nonplused no matter what the customer said or did.  I finally figured it out.  He didn’t see himself making calls.  He saw himself playing a role.

Take an acting class from a local community theater.  The skills and techniques used in acting will serve you well when you are on the phone.  Moreover, it makes it more fun.

5.     Stay Calm

When a caller seems upset, the CSR is not the reason for the rage, only the recipient.  This is why acting classes can help.  Let the anger wash over you without taking it personally.  While CSRs should not make light of any situation that has a customer upset, it’s okay to see the humor in it, especially if that helps in keeping calm.

6.     Install a Smile Mirror

People can hear a smile through the phone.  CSRs should put a small mirror next to the phone and tape the word, “smile” at the top to serve as a reminder.

7.     Be Prompt

The CSR’s role is critical.  The whole day breaks down when the CSR is not on station and ready to go when the phones go live.  CSRs should plan on arriving a little early, every day.

8.     Take Breaks

Let’s face it.  Managing the phones and dealing with customers can be a beat down.  It’s important to take breaks, to decompress.  If the company only has one CSR, someone else in the office should be cross trained to provide back up and be able to spot the CSR several times during the day.

9.     Ask Questions

The art of customer service starts with asking the right questions.  When someone calls and asks for a price, ask questions.  Probe.  Find out more about the prospect’s situation and the reason for the call.  Then, ask the customer what day or time would be better to send someone out.

10.  Take Good Notes

Hopefully, the computer system allows CSRs to add notes to each customer’s file.  Write lots of notes.  The more the better.  Capture details (especially the address) and make relationship notes.  For example, if a customer says something about the dog, write it down.  The next time the customer calls, the CSR or another CSR can scan the notes and ask about the dog, making the relationship between the customer and the company feel more personal.

11.  Repeat For Accuracy

Especially when it involves and address, contact information, or a problem, record what the customer says and repeat it to ensure you have accurately captured the information. 

12.  Be Proactive

When the phone isn’t ringing, be proactive.  Make happy calls.  Call customers who rejected a serviceperson’s recommendation in the last three months to see how they are doing and if they have rethought the need to proceed.  Call customers nearing the end of their warranty to ask if everything is performing well and reminding them that the warranty will soon expire.  Often, this leads to more work.

13.  Set Performance Goals

Even if the company has performance goals for CSRs, CSRs can set their own.  Theirs can be higher.  Or, they can be different and more detailed.  Make it a game.  Make it fun.  Track your performance, whether it’s service calls booked, inbound calls taken, outbound calls made, percentage of calls converted, or some other measure.  Your performance will inevitably improve.

14.  Remind Yourself Every Caller is a Person

Every person who calls is a wife or husband, mother or father, son or daughter.  Everyone who calls is a person with hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties.  The CSR is in a position to calm at least some of the fears and to sooth some of the anxieties.  The CSR is in a position to make a difference for the person calling and for the company. 

Do it.  Make a difference today.

©2015 Matt Michel