Recently I was tasked with re-engineering our customer service effort. We had suffered several public relations black eyes from customer service fiascos. The suspicion had been that the norm for customer service had veered too much in the direction of quantity and not enough quality. Customer service reps (CSRs) had long been challenged by ever-increasing quotas. With the corporate challenges of cutting expenses to increase profitability, such policies were inevitable. But we needed to know if they were not perhaps also shortsighted.
I set up a desk in our current customer service department. I had my phone wired so I could listen in to any customer service dialog live or from a recording. Naturally, I got an ear-full. I tried my hand at a few dozen claims, pushing the numbers to meet quota just like everyone else. I experienced the limitations of the process, first hand.
I also parked myself in the break room to interview CSRs—to pick their brains about what they liked and didn't like about their jobs. I also called up customers after their customer service ticket had been closed to see what they thought of the service they had received. I concentrated on disapproved requests to see if I could get a sense of customer perceptions. This is the area where our potential liabilities lay.
Reading and Beyond
From all of the input, interviews and training, I developed a proposal for a customer service test group to work in parallel with our existing group. This would test out the recommendations I was making for the department—a better balance between quantity and quality, training opportunities for CSRs, and a more optimum channel between tier one and tier two CSRs so that more problematic claims were automatically escalated to more experienced managers.
We had a lot of work to do to repair some of the problems with our customer service program. But my key recommendation was investing in training for our CSRs. Connecting them to customer service training courses gave them the skills to resolve customer issues more effectively and expeditiously.
Discovering the library of online training courses on www.OpenSesame.com - a marketplace for e-learning and corporate training - was an essential component of the success of our customer service improvements. I browsed through hundreds of different customer service training courses from different to make purchasing recommendations to my managers.
We purchased seats for a variety of different courses - from telephone techniques to resolving challenging conversations - and as a result, our employees were able to learn from multiple experts on their own schedules. Customer service training could not have been easier to organize for our company - and as a result of our investment, both our CSRs and our customers are reporting higher satisfaction. Definitely a win-win decision!
Image credit: monkeyatlarge on Flickr