When it comes to desiring a career as a CSR, it should be with a goal at not just doing the job, but at becoming an exceptional CSR, and to accomplish that, there are many pieces that need to come together to achieve the goal. In one of my previous articles entitled What It Takes to Be a Career CSR - Successfully I discussed traits like patience, communication skills, and attentiveness, and prior to that even covered the issue of pride and how it often gets in the way of great service. Aside from these types of traits, some that are learned, some that are personality related, there is the skill of being a good thinker, or one who can think outside of the basic cookie-cutter box that some in the CSR field stay trapped in.
If you work in a position where you do a lot of phone service, especially if it is sales or certain types of support, there is often a company script provided in order to train and assist the employees. Following the script is an important step for all employees in order to learn the ropes and have the proper answers at your fingertips. It helps in getting the conversation going, or keeping the conversation heading in the right direction. However, it cannot become the only thing that keeps you afloat. An exceptional CSR is one who can use that script to know where they want to start and ultimately end, but who can think outside of that scripted box and customize their service to the current situation.
“While it’s important to adhere to your company’s policies, for your team to provide exceptional customer service, every customer service agent needs to be confident enough to know when it’s okay to go off script and show the customer a bit of personality,” states Nancy Anderson in her article at Return Customer, and I wholeheartedly agree. Knowing how and when to go beyond the script is an important skill to have in order to provide more than average service (hint: that should always be your goal). Scripts do provide company policies and guidelines that are important to follow. Scripts show how to avoid keywords of phrases that are not within company policy. They also help in showing how to turn certain potentially negative scenarios into positive one.
Being able to think outside the script is especially important for those unexpected moments. What if you are following the script and the customer deviates from it, leaving you unable to properly recover? What if they throw out something in the conversation that is a brand new scenario not clearly discussed on the script? I know I have personally experienced much frustration when dealing with some service reps who you could just tell were following a script and either refused or were unable to go outside of those walls in order to respond to my issue. I have also heard reps literally have to start their spiel totally over, re-reading the script from the start, just because I interrupted with a question and they could not recover.
In order to be able to achieve the goal of providing exceptional service, you must have the skills to be able to consume the company script, digest those company policies, and then use that information to energize the service conversation to fit the needs of the customer. Anything less is just going through the motions and will never seriously connect with the customer on the level needed.
A brief article at The Engaging Brand brings up a very good question – What is Normal Anyway? The world is constantly changing around us due to technological advances. Customer service has to be approached differently now than it was even as recent as ten years ago – or less in some ways. What used to be normal, or the way things were always done, has to be thrown out for more inventive and modern ways of approaching things. Why? “Because life evolves, competitors evolve and doing the same doesn't excite your people or your customers.....and when either of these parties are not excited then...stagnation occurs.” That can easily be the case when sticking solely to the script is the main mode of thinking. When the CSR is simply going through the motions, and continues strictly following the script, the service will become nothing more than a drab experience for both the representative and the customer. Drab experiences do not keep customers, exciting ones do.
Sure, a CSR position can be filled by almost anyone who can follow a script, and companies hire those types of employees every day. Companies are hoping to find that diamond in the rough that will be chiseled to shine as an exceptional employee. Customers are the life-blood of most all companies, and to truly excel as a career CSR, you need to have the ability and desire to think outside of that and offer truly exception, customized, connective customer service.
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