Tricia’s Customer Service Success Blog

3 Traits of a Great Customer Service Representative

customer service greatness

Your brand may have the best products, the best pricing and the most data, but if you aren’t engaging and empowering your people, you’re still operating at a competitive loss.

According to the most recent Gallup State of the American Workplace report, “when organizations successfully engage both their employees and their customers they experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes compared to an organization with neither engaged employees, nor engaged customers.” Gallup notes that the moment an engaged employee connects emotionally with a customer, “it’s a source of untapped power that has profound implications for a company’s productivity and profitability.”
But unfortunately, according to the same report, 70% of American workers say they’re either “not engaged” or are “actively disengaged” at work, and the cost is extremely high. Median differences between brands in the top quarter of employee engagement versus the bottom quarter showed a:

  • 10% difference in customer satisfaction ratings
  • 21% difference in productivity
  • and 22% difference in organization profitability.

On a similar, many employees are not empowered to engage customers:

  • 40% of employees say they cannot find the information to do their jobs.
  • 44% of contact center agents say they need to access three or more applications to resolve a customer interaction.
  • 51% of contact centers feel they are behind the pack for self-service information.
  • And 31% of Gen Y workers believe their technology at home is better than their technology at work.

Engage Your Employees to Engage the Customer

When employees make contact with your customers or potential ones, says Gallup, they should give meaning and dimension to your company’s brand promise. And whether it’s IT, billing, marketing, sales or support, all employees should view themselves as customer service representatives. They should know the company’s brand promise, how it relates to the customer experience, and be empowered to deliver on it at every turn.

Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner of the Temkin Group and Co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, notes that there are three key components of the customer experience:

  1. Success: the degree to which customers are able to accomplish their goals
  2. Effort: the difficulty or ease the customer experiences in accomplishing their goals
  3. Emotion: how the interaction makes the customers feel.

3 Traits of a Great Customer Service Representative

In relation to the above, there are three traits that make for a great customer service representative:

  1. Customer service representatives who have the ability to save customers time and deliver on first contact resolution are heroes for both their organizations and the customer. This trait is powered by having both the right tools and also the knowledge at hand to give customers the answers they need, no matter which channel the customer is using. Productive CSRs efficiently and effectively assist customers in accomplishing their goals, enabling a successful experience.
  2. Great customer service representatives proactively reduce a customer’s effort. Examples would be a live chat invitation to help with a perceived issue, or reaching out to inform customers about a known issue even before the customer is aware and offering the means or timeline for resolution. CSRs who are empowered to promote ease of experience reduce customer effort and, in turn, increase satisfaction.
  3. Great customer service representatives are empowered with customer data, feedback and support histories to better connect with individual customers – not just on questions and issues – but many times on an emotional level, as well. Small details such as recognizing names, birthdays, recent purchases and longstanding loyalty, for example, help engage the customer. Great customer service representatives are also empowered with sentiment analysis or mindful listening skills to deliver empathy and make each customer feel more valued, delivering on the emotion component of the customer experience.

Facilitating Greatness

While some great customer service representatives were born for the job, many more great customer service representatives can be made through increased empowerment. Is it worth the internal investment? Absolutely.  Forrester Research notes that just a 10% improvement in an enterprise company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in increased revenue.

Facilitate greatness and increased employee and customer engagement. Customers are more empowered than ever. Your customer service representatives should be, too.


 Nov. 4 Expert Panel Webinar Builds the Case for a
2015 Investment in Knowledge for Customer Service


In an upcoming November 4th webinar, ThinkJar Founder and Principal Esteban Kolsky will detail the importance and benefits of knowledge management for customer service.

Notes Kolsky in a new white paper, “not having access to the right information is the most critical time-waste of preparing any answer for a customer. If the information is not available quickly, it is nearly impossible to deliver against expectations.”

Senior Director Bill Patterson of Parature will explore the critical role of knowledge in self-service and consistent engagement across channels including email, chat, the web, mobile and social. Global Customer Care Manager Eric McKirdy will also join the conversation to share the brand’s incredible knowledge management for customer service success, along with proven best practices that have helped make McKirdy a customer service thought leader.

Don’t miss out on finding out if your brand’s a leader or a laggard in KM for customer service and what you can do to quickly improve your success. Register for this complimentary webinar today!







13 Startling Customer Service Statistics

startling-customer-serviceIn October, with 2015 lurking just around the corner, it’s frightening to think just how much customer service and the customer experience are impacting the reputation and bottom lines of brands and organizations. While satisfying customer experiences can have scary-good results (increasing customer acquisition, retention, brand loyalty and advocacy), just a single poor customer experience can lead to the unexpected demise of even the longest customer relationship.

According to a recent Customers 2020 Report, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Customers “will expect companies to know their individual needs and personalize the experience. Immediate resolution will not be fast enough as customers will expect companies to proactively address their current and future needs.”

With this prediction, brands and organizations should be a little scared if they haven’t already planned for improvements in customer service and engagement heading into 2015. But there’s still time…. Here are 13 startling statistics to encourage a bigger and better buy-in for customer service and customer-centric marketing initiatives:

1. Brands in the U.K. are currently losing nearly £15 billion annually due to poor customer service. ~Harris/ClickSoftware Survey

2. U.S. brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year due to poor customer service. ~NewVoiceMedia Study

3. 65% of 1,000 consumers surveyed said they’ve cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience. 2014 Parature State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey

4. Only 14% of respondents in a 2014 CMO survey rated the customer-centricity of their organization as high; and only 11% believe their customers would say the same. ~ 2014 CMO Council Mastering Adaptive Customer Engagements Report Read More

Esteban Kolsky, Parature, Tell Why Knowledge is Key in Customer Service

knowledge-managementWhen it comes to service and support, customers don’t long for conversation. They want answers – fast. According to Parature’s 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey, customers rank the top two aspects of a satisfying customer service experience as:

  • Getting my issue resolved quickly (41%)
  • Getting my issue resolved in a single interaction (26%)

So, what is the key to delivering on the above? At the heart of every efficient and effective customer service resolution is the right knowledge. It is a simple foundation that, if developed and managed correctly, can be used both internally and externally – and distributed from a single source across almost every channel including phone, IVR, email, live chat, mobile, social, support portal and more.

Knowing How to Make Knowledge Work

The challenge for most brands is not the lack of knowledge, but rather the single-source management of, access to and delivery of consistent, correct knowledge in real time. Notes CRM analyst Esteban Kolsky in a new white paper, “not having access to the right information is the most critical time-waste of preparing any answer for a customer. If the information is not available quickly, it is nearly impossible to deliver against expectations.” Read More

The 80s Called. They Want Their Customer Service Back…

The80sCalledI’ve read a lot of customer service reports lately that show, in 2014, the telephone still remains the preferred customer service channel. The NICE Global Customer Experience Survey shows that 88% of more than 1,000 respondents still rate the telephone as their most-preferred channel. A 2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey commissioned by Parature found a lesser, but similar bias, with 43% of 1,000 respondents favoring the phone.

Forrester Research polling also supports the same, with more than 7,000 respondents saying telephoning a live agent was their most-used customer service channel (73%), with self-service FAQs on a brand’s website coming in second at 67% followed by email, chat, click-to-call, communities, screen sharing, virtual agent, texting and social media.

Hold the Phone

So while we are left to read here that one of the oldest, most high-cost, high-touch channels available still rules the roost for customer service in the 21st century, we also need to read into this. Read More

No Small Change: Rethinking the Retail Customer Experience

retail-customer-experienceToday’s retail customer is always shopping around, but while price, quality and brand name consistently bring customers to the table, it’s increasingly the customer experience (in store, online, via mobile and social) that keeps the customer and makes all the difference between buy, buy, buy and bye, bye, bye.

While it’s becoming harder for retailers to differentiate based on price and product availability, it’s becoming easier to differentiate based on the customer experience. Personalization, ease of experience, availability of information, seamless service across channels, customer-centric engagement; some retailers have it; some don’t. But those who don’t must if they are going to compete in the rapidly-evolving retail space.

The Near-Future of Retail

At the recent 214 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, vice president and Gartner fellow, Daryl Plummer, gave attendees a sneak peek of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015 and Beyond, emphasizing how digital business is driving big change. The list makes clear that an investment in customer experience, and increasingly the mobile one, is a best bet for the near future of retail (and every industry):

  • “By 2017, more than half of consumer product and service R&D investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.”
  • “By 2017, US customers’ mobile engagement behavior will drive US mobile commerce revenue to 50 percent of US digital commerce revenue.”

Read More

10 Quintessential Quotes for National Customer Service Week

NationalCustomerServiceWeekIt’s National Customer Service Week, a week dedicated to raising the awareness of customer service and its pivotal role in improving a brand or organization’s success, retaining customers and securing a positive reputation and increased advocacy.

This year’s National Customer Service Week features daily themes that focus on some of the key elements of customer service. So for inspiration, here is a quote-a-day sampling to share with your customer service team – or, if you’re a brand or organization focusing on customer-centricity, share these with every department:

Theme: Understanding Your Customer

“The customer’s perception is your reality.” ~ Kate Zabriskie

“When you’re trying to make an important decision, and you’re sort of divided on the issue, ask yourself: ‘If the customer were here, what would she or he say?’” ~ Dharmesh Shah
Read More

Learn How Quark Doubled its Net Promoter Score with Customer Care, Knowledge Management

quark-customer-success-storyMany software companies come and go, but Quark is an example of a brand that has stood the test of time via continuous reinvention and innovation based upon its customers’ evolving needs.

In the 1980s, Quark revolutionized publishing with QuarkExpress, making any individual or business a publisher via their desktop computer. In the 1990s, the brand solidified its hold in the software industry as the world’s most widely-used professional page layout solution.

With the meteoric rise of digital media in the 2000s and 2010s, Quark has once again risen to the challenge of revolutionizing its software and its brand to serve a continuously changing global medium and an ever-expanding set of connected customers.

For Quark, development and growth are part of its name. The brand takes its appellation from the subatomic particle that is the building block for all matter. And now for customer support, Quark has utilized this building block structure to arrive at a cohesive multichannel service strategy that, now in place, has helped double the brand’s Net Promoter Score in under two years. Read More

Pleased to Beat You: Customer Service Needs Better Rivalries

Football Victory“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” – Dr. Tony Alessandra, Author and Consultant

It’s football season people, and one of the best things about football season (college or pro) is the opportunity to compete against your rivals. Cowboys vs. Redskins, Raiders vs. Chiefs, Alabama vs. Auburn, Notre Dame vs. USC, Army vs. Navy, the list goes on and on….

Owners, coaches, staff, players and fans alike take rivalries personally, investing emotions, effort and dollars in the belief that their team is number one, and to make their team number one – or at the very least, better than their rivals.

While rivalries may be associated with brawls between teams on the field and brawls between fans in the parking lot, rivalries also bring out the best. They inspire:

  • Passion
  • Loyalty
  • Competition
  • Team Effort
  • Best Effort
  • An Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses
  • And a Desire to Keep Improving

Some brands overall have had competitive rivalries in sales and marketing (think of the great Cola Wars of the 1980s), but what if customer service teams, or better yet, customer-obsessed brands began engaging in this type of competitive rivalry? Read More

Making the Grade: Higher Ed Must Master Mobile to Recruit, Serve Students

Group of young people using digital tablet and smart phoneThe use of mobile devices for higher education doesn’t start when students get to college. It begins long before when students are considering which college or university to attend, confirms two recently-released reports. Now more than ever, higher education institutions must literally put information not only in the palms of their students’ hands, but in prospective students’ hands.

According to a Noel-Levitz 2014 E-Expectations Report which details the online preferences of college-bound high school seniors and their parents, 71% of high-school seniors have looked at college websites on their mobile devices and 51% said they wanted college websites to automatically adapt to their mobile screens.

However, according to a related report, only 43% of four-year institutions and 26% of two-year campuses said they currently use adaptive technology. Read More

From Promise through Post-Sales: Is Your Customer Experience Aligned?

Teamwork of businesspeopleAs product and service availability, as well as price, begin to fade as competitive differentiators, customer service and engagement have quickly risen to take their place. Early customer-centric leaders such as Amazon and Zappos paved the way for the Age of the Customer, creating a top-down, across-the-board focus on customer service and engagement that propelled their success. But what these brands have made look easy is actually very challenging to accomplish.

A recent study by Bain & Company confirms that while 80% of companies believe they are delivering a superior experience to their customers, only 8% of customers agree.

Brand Promise: Talking the Talk

Talking the talk is easy. Most any brand or organization can create a customer-centric brand promise. Walking the walk, and creating a customer-centric road that everyone in the company helps to build, travels on and maintains at every turn is where most companies lose their way. Read More

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