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Don't Make the Customer Work

A Vintage Sears Catalog Jewelry Page! - Free t...Image by HA! Designs - Artbyheather via Flickr

Last week, I was analyzing phone calls and I heard a very interesting exchange. A veteran Customer Service Representative (CSR) received a call from an existing customer looking for some technical information on a part they ordered from my client. Here is a paraphrased excerpt:

CSR: The information is in our catalog. Download it from our Web site.

Customer: I tried getting it off your Web site.

CSR: It's not on the website. Sorry. You have to download the catalog. It's in there.

Customer: Can you just get it for me and send me the information?

CSR: I'm not in a position to do it right now. Sorry.

Customer: Could you put me in your voicemail? I'll leave you my contact information and you can send it later.

CSR: (sighs impatiently) What's your number? I'll have someone call you.

Ouch.

Customers, in general, want two things: (1) They want their issue resolved and (2) they want us to care. If we don't resolve their issue or answer their question, the customer will penalize us in their dissatisfaction. In the conversation above, the customer sensed that the CSR didn't want to help her. She had already tried self-serving and it wasn't working for her. She was frustrated. That's why she called. The CSR insisting that the customer get the information only escalated the customer's frustration and rendered the CSR's insincere apologies profane.

It is common to find companies who ask their customers to do the work and serve themselves. It presents and opportunity for those willing to differentiate themselves by serving customers well.

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Comments

It is possible the CSR is overwhelmed with calls. CSR can take a number and offer to call back later. If the CSR doesn't care, it may be due to personal issues or compensation. Training, competence and compensation are the best tools to create quality CS.

Thanks for the follow-up thoughts, KW. In this case, I can testify that the CSR was the most competent and among the highest compensated CSRs in the company.

Nevertheless, your point is well taken.

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