Let me ask you something: Would a successful customer service representative at a bank also be successful in a technological start-up? Would a CSR in a retail company have the same tasks as one in a pharmaceutical company?
Simply put: no! Different organizations in different industries will need different types of CSRs. So how can you determine which type you need in YOUR organization? Whether you only have one person or a whole department of them, there are a few things to consider before you get your answer. Here they are!
Before we get into which type of Customer Service Representative you need for your organization, it’s important to understand the factors that affect and influence it. In their most basic form, there are 3 factors that affect what makes a CSR perfect for your organization:
The industry you operate in is a huge factor when determining which type of CSR you need for your organization. Is it product, or service-oriented? Is it a professional industry where your CSRs need to have an educational background to understand and communicate the terminology, or is it one where a few training courses will get them on their way? What about your customers; who are they expecting to talk to when reaching out to customer service?
There are many questions you need to ask yourself, but it’s nothing a little research can’t solve!
The next important factor that affects the type of CSR you need for your organization is the organization itself! CSRs are the face of the company; they are the ones that are going to be representing who you are to your customers. Do you have the right people to ensure customer happiness?
Consider your mission, values, and culture. Do you want your customers to view you as being a fun, innovative company? Or do you want them to view you as the experts who get the job done?
Ideally, all of your employees would share the same core competencies that is needed for their performance, development, and success within your organization. But what is “ideal” for the rest of your employees is “essential” for your CSRs. They NEED to possess these core competencies to be able to share your values, communicate your mission, and represent your company the way it deserves to be represented.
The last factor that determines the type of CSR you need in your organization is the job itself. What does their job description include? Are they only going to be talking to clients over the phone, or would they be required to meet with them in person from time to time? Are they mainly going to be handling customer complaints, or is providing support their primary task? Is service their only goal, or would they need to upsell some products and/or services?
That’s way too many questions for my liking! So, instead of asking, let’s take a closer look at how these differing tasks require different types of customer service representatives!
Customer service representatives whose main task includes handling customer complaints need to be resistant to stress. This isn’t news! You can’t have your CSRs running to the restroom to cry every time an unhappy customer calls!
Being able to handle customer complaints with poise and professionalism is a very hard task, and not everyone is naturally built to handle that kind of pressure. They need to have a natural tendency to control their feelings and emotions, and be more thick-skinned. They also need to be able to handle criticism, be tolerant, and have good emotional stability. But most importantly, they need to have the capacity to let things go. Individuals in such positions can’t allow their frustrations to carry forward from call to call, or from work to their personal lives.
People differ in terms of their learning mode; the way they acquire information. Some people are more conceptual and analytical, while others are more comfortable with concrete data and hands-on experience. There’s no good or bad here, there’s just differences. But these differences are why it’s important for CSRs, who provide training and support to their clients, to be somewhere in between.
CSRs almost always have to deliver their message using their words alone, and that’s not an easy thing to do. They are going to be talking to different types of people who have different learning modes, but will have to deliver the right training and support all the same. For this reason, it’s crucial that your CSRs be in the middle of this practical-conceptual scale in order to be able to accommodate all of their customers and provide them with the best possible service.
There’s a huge difference between a CSR who only services clients, and one who is also required to do some sales. There’s also a big difference between inbound and outbound CSRs! Different tasks require different skills, traits, and characteristics to make individuals as performing as they can be.
Let’s consider an example. An inbound CSR who is only required to provide services would need to be more of a listener, less assertive, more empathetic and sensitive, and have a genuine desire to help others.
On the other hand, an outbound CSR, who is also required to upsell some products and/or services, will need to be more comfortable initiating first contact, be more assertive, have a capacity to question and analyze a customer’s needs, and be motivated to get sales!
Are these the only types of customer service representatives? Absolutely not! But we’d probably fill up a book describing all the different types, and what their characteristics should be. The main point remains the same though: different industries, companies, and jobs require different types of CSRs. The secret is knowing yourself, your customer, and your goals. If you have this information then you’re golden! Don’t you think it’s time you got your hands on such a treasure?
Have any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share? Leave us a comment!