We all wish for the ideal customer service rep:  that Bill Gates-Mother Teresa hybrid who can solve the trickiest product issue while soothing the soul of the most distraught crying customer.  Unfortunately most people tend to be better at one of these skill sets over the other.  That doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the level of customer service you’re providing.

Playing to your call agents’ strengths

The first thing to realize is that, regardless of your product type, there are strong and weak reps among both personality types.  Your call center managers can likely point out the people on your floor with the fewest number call-backs.  Here are some insights into the reasons behind those numbers.

The techies

You know the techies on your crew:  they’re the gadget people, the early adopters who took the job because they love the products.

The high-performing techie call agents are dedicated to getting to the bottom of the technical issue.  They’re professionally polite to the customer and are willing to dig deep into job aids and other resources to fix complicated problems.  And they’ll fix those problem in a single call.  Result:  satisfied customers.

The low-performing techies do a poor job of being polite and make little effort to investigate anything beyond standard issues.  They tend to be overly focused on reducing call their handling time instead of the number of repeat calls.  If they can’t fix a problem using the first-pass tricks and tools, they’ll quickly hand it off to another department, or even back to the customer.  Result:  angry call-backs.

The people people

These are the folks who smile unconsciously the second they answer the call.  They love helping people and care much more about the customers than the products.

Like the best techies, high-performers in this category make extensive use of resources to solve tricky problems (something they need to rely on a bit more than the techies do).  The advantage they have over the high performing techies is that they also have a talent for picking up on cues that tell them how the customer is doing–i.e., whether the caller is following along, calming down, or getting more frustrated–and adjust their approach accordingly.  Result:  happy customers.

Low-performing people people are easily stumped by unusual problems, as well as by the available problem-solving resources at their disposal.  They simply don’t understand the problem well enough to know where to look for help.  In an effort to be nice, they risk providing incorrect guidance.  This leaves the customer happy  when they hang up the phone (the first time).  Inevitably, though, the customer ends up calling back angry once they discover that their issue wasn’t resolved after all.  Result: angry call-backs.

 The matrix

Once these patterns are better understood, the core elements can be incorporated into employee training that plays up each person’s strengths without trying to turn them into something they’re not.

Here’s the matrix to keep all of this straight.  Interested in finding out more about how this can work for your organization?  Contact me.

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