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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 08, 2016

Brands: How you're sabotaging your customer service reps

Customer service can help a brand to build loyalty and trust with customers, or it can quickly break that trust. One expert outlines how brands are sabotaging their customer service reps - many without even knowing it.

by Kristina Knight

1. Forcing them to stick to a script

"Scripts are helpful to get an agent trained and to give agents something to fall back on if things go awry. Beyond that, though, scripts aren't really a good way to provide customer support. The whole point of dealing with a person is to use human judgment, something a script doesn't do. Paying someone to read off a script is a terrible waste of money. But it's an even worse waste of brainpower. Good agents forced to stick to a script will leave, and all you'll be left with are agents who are disengaged and docile," said Cathy Reisenwitz, Writer and Researcher, Capterra.

2. Making them try to solve problems with their hands tied behind their backs

"It's important to have policies and procedures in place. How will you know what works if you don't know what your agents are doing? And agents need guidelines. But making agents robots, mindlessly implementing those policies and procedures, will make them stop trying or even thinking," said Reisenwitz. "On the other hand, when agents are free to think up creative solutions that aren't necessarily laid out in the rulebook, everyone is happier. For example, I was on a call with customer service at Living Social yesterday. I wanted a refund on an expired deal, because the company had refused to honor it before it expired. It's against company policy to refund expired deals, but my agent offered me a voucher for another Living Social deal of equal value to the expired deal. I was happy to take it, and told her so, when she had an idea."

3. Changing priorities often

"This is hardly unique to customer service, but it is a major source of friction between managers and agents. Imagine you're an agent. You're told that customer retention is priority number one. So you start bending over backwards for customers who threaten to leave. You give out coupons, free months, etc. You have a high retention rate, and you're feeling good about yourself. Then your manager comes and looks at your record and chews you out for giving away too much for free. Now, apparently, the focus is on saving money," said Reisenwitz. "People also want to feel like they're learning. Even if you recognize your agent for retaining customers before changing priorities, the agent can't get better at anything if every quarter they're focused on a different goal. Again, if people aren't growing, they're going to leave for somewhere they can grow. And you'll be left with the people happy to stagnate."

Tags: Capterra, customer service, customer service tips, ecommerce

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