THREE PATHS TO
CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCCESS
Strategies to adopt to do your best CSR work
[A]s customer service representatives, we feel as if we are at the bottom of the heap … . But customer service is the lifeline for all companies, if not one of the most important departments.
By Kryzten Valerio
As a customer service manager, I love the opportunity to employ different strategies and experiences to provide the best customer service. While many companies look to be innovative, they should always ensure they are meeting the goals that fulfill their clients’ needs.
In customer service, we should always look for ways to serve clients better. But sometimes there is beauty in doing things the old way. So, what strategies can you adopt to do your best CSR work?
- Doing it the “Bettie” way. When I started working at The National Alliance in our Client Services department, I used to say it was the “heaven of call centers.” Why? Because the people we service are intentionally looking to us for answers. They do not dread calling us; in fact, I remember that many participants who had been with us for many years and had retired used to call just to have a conversation because of the service they received. Imagine your client saying they enjoy calling because they always receive the best customer service. That is gold. My mentor, Bettie Duff, senior vice president and Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) secretary at The National Alliance, emphasizes the importance of treating every participant we speak to like royalty, no exceptions. She advocates a style of customer service I think every company should adopt: servantship.
These days, I have turned trying to exceed Bettie’s expectations into a competition: #BTB! (Better than Bettie!) Often, we hear participants say, “Is Bettie around?” Pre-pandemic, they would say, “I see her at every MEGA and I enjoy it when she helps me” or “Anyway, I can speak with Bettie. I’d like to catch up.” I remind my teams that the goal is to serve our participants even better than Bettie would. Of course, we have the biggest shoes to fill! We are very thankful for her mentorship when she steps away and guides us toward what we could have done better.
As Bettie says, “Be available, give accurate information, have empathy, and solve their problems with a smile in your voice.”
- Servant leadership and empathy. What does servant leadership mean? At The National Alliance, this means we provide our clients with the best customer service experience. Simply saying “the customer is always right” is not enough. While this is correct (most of the time), we must shift the customer service experience from “this is just my job” to being the best advocate for our clients. As customer service representatives, we often get caught up in our title, and we question what we’re really contributing to our company. We are all leaders in our own way, and we must lead as CSRs. We have become experts in our field. We have had to think on the fly, store massive amounts of information, be available to give accurate information, strategize, and execute our solutions. We must engage our customers and let them know that we are with them every step of the way. My teams are the reason we are successful, and I can remind them that what they do every day is pivotal to customer success and give them the tools to be successful here or in other customer-facing roles. If I do this, I have done my job as a servant leader.
- Remain positive and solution-oriented. Sometimes customers do not really know how to express their frustration. De-escalating is one of my favorite interactions, because it gives me the opportunity to understand the challenges they faced before getting to me and the opportunity to walk through the issues with the customer to provide insight in case they need the same thing again. It also gives us an opportunity to restore faith and remind them that if they have the same problem again, they can lean on someone to guide them. (The Bettie way!)
I always like to tell my teams that we are people who bring solutions—not create more problems. Are we proactively thinking about the solutions once we start hearing the issues, or are we already jumping to the conclusion that there is no helping our customer? There is a solution to everything, and where there is a will, there is way.
Many times in our careers as customer service representatives, we feel as if we are at the bottom of the heap, or “just the customer service team.” But customer service is the lifeline for all companies, if not one of the most important departments. Have you ever called into a company and found yourself going through a loop of automated messages, pressing 0 to trick the messaging system, or clearly and slowly saying “REP-RE-SEN-TA-TIVE” because speaking to a live human gives you what you need at a faster rate?
Your goal is to provide the best customer service experience your participants know and love while also cultivating your CSRs to be advocates and leaders.
So be better to your CSRs. Today, the way customer service representatives are treated has become more widely known. People are recording their customer service interactions and posting them to TikTok, Facebook, and other social media sites and naming them “Karens.” Karen culture has done a lot for us; in a way, it has reminded others that customer service workers are people, too.
In fact, negative treatment has scared people away from looking for jobs within the customer service field. As a manager, I have realized that if you simply talk to your CSR team like they are human beings and reassure them that you are there to support them, the service just gets better.
Kryzten Valerio is client services manager at The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research and brings six years of experience in client-facing roles to her position. She leads her team in developing new and strengthening existing relationships with our participants and vendors.