Coaching the Customer Service Agent

Customer service isn’t for everybody.  Dealing with clients, setting appointments, and most feared of all, cold calling, is for some people and not others.  This being said, there’s far too passive an attitude about customer service coaching in the workplace.  While customer service may be for “some people”, there’s a massive factor of alienation to those who might actually be superb customer service agents, but don’t receive the care and attention they need to rise to the position and challenge to make a positive impact in the company.

Have Supervisors with a Plan

Too many companies have the mindset of, “if they’re not good at the job, we’ll just hire somebody else.” While this may sound reasonable to some, it’s a poisonous mindset that seeps into the very life of the customer service representative.  How will an agent feel when they know you don’t care about them?  What about the star representatives who do very well for your company?  Are they just doing so well because it affects their commissions?

You don’t want “the bottom line” being the pure existence of your business, of your employees.  You need a workforce that cares about one another, who cares about improving results and performance without sacrificing integrity.  A person whose sole motivation is money has a far more questionable integrity than one whose prominent desire is to do a great job because it makes the customer happy and to show their employer that they made a good choice in hiring that individual.

This is where a plan needs to exist.  There must be performance tracking and work efficiency statistics, but it has to be in a friendly way, an encouraging and caring manner, not a totalitarian workplace with a supervisor breathing down their employee’s necks to “hit their numbers”.  Environments like that suck, and there are a lot of good employees who leave such oppressive jobs because not only do their bosses crack the proverbial whip on them, they don’t offer any real encouragement, wisdom, or training on the matter.  This is what needs to change.

Catered Customer Service Training

The job isn’t a one-stop training session.  There needs to be expansion, growth, and adjustments.  Giving a customer service agent some training and then sending them out into the field seems natural, but when their numbers aren’t that high what do you do?  Cut them loose?  Some people just aren’t cut out for the job, and that’s understandable, but there needs to be consistent involvement in training from higher-ups, from supervisors and managers.

Employees need guidance, and how can they know what to adjust if you don’t help them?  You can bark at them for not having a high enough conversion rate, or you can SHOW them what they need to do, how to adjust their approach, their pitch, their greeting, their confidence, or whatever else needs to be remedied.  This does take time and effort, but only an employer who’s out of touch with their own workforce won’t understand or appreciate the value of workplace happiness.

Remember, this isn’t just about your employees, but the results that your efforts in constant training can help them bring to you as a business owner.  Who do you think will have a better impression on customers?  The customer service representative who’s under the threatening, stressful, and painfully scrupulous glare of their manager?  Or the one who can confidently come to work and do their job each day, knowing that they can and will be helped to better fulfill their position by a boss who not only cares about the customers, but their employees as well?

 

About the author

Flavio Martins

Flavio Martins is the VP of Customer Support at an award-winning technology start-up. He's a featured blogger, customer service presenter and customer loyalty fanatic. Flavio understands that customer service is the key for successful businesses to create long term loyalty and success. Flavio is a CustomerThink.com Featured Author, Top Author for Service & Support, Top Author for Customer Experience and Overall Top Blogger in 2012.

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Comments (1)

  • Key also is empowerment of senior representatives to handle escalated issues, fill in for you while you are away, and that your entire staff knows that your job is to make them successful – you are their job coach!

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