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A Rep's Guide To Surviving Customer Service

Updated on October 26, 2012
OMG! Why Am I Doing This?
OMG! Why Am I Doing This? | Source

Understanding Customer Service

Customer Service is one of those fields of Public Service that no one appreciates, but everyone expects it to be there when they want it.

I was fortunate to have found work during the Recession in 2008. Unfortunately, it was as a customer service rep in a telephone company, arguably the most frustrating of all the utilities. Anyone who has ever been in customer service understands that you don't do it for the love of conversation and you certainly don't do it for the financial independence. Chances are you're living at home with your parents, have a partner or roommate or have a second job. I eventually learned to accept that nobody respects you for what you do and nobody cares about any "issues" you may have. After ten years, through a mish-mash of office, call center, and retail jobs, I have learned one thing: customer service will never be easy. But, experience has taught me how to deal with it better.

No-no!  Keep it cool and professional!
No-no! Keep it cool and professional! | Source

TIP NO. 1: DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL

In the world of Customer Service, be it on the phone in a call center or in a retail setting, there will always be irate customers. Some can be very nasty and outright rude. The one thing you must remember is that IT IS NOT PERSONAL! Yes, your heart may race and your blood pressure may climb with tension, but when it's all said and done, you are the professional. The customer doesn't know you personally and it's highly unlikely you will ever see that person in the real world. All the name calling and swearing and screaming is directed at the company...not you! All you can do is let them vent, but eventually you will need to take control of the call and help them as best you can. Also, not every single customer is going to be that way. Most calls will be for information on billing, orders, product details, etc. Worse case scenario, that's why you have a supervisor or manager.

Irate customer are a part of the job
Irate customer are a part of the job | Source

TIP NO. 2: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT...TO A CERTAIN EXTENT

Yes, we have all heard that saying before and some will take it to a unrealistic level. It is true that a business needs customers and in a service industry if you don't provide for your customers, then you won't have any. There are always those who will "remind" you that they pay your salary and in return expect above and beyond service. And, whether we like it or not, it is true. But, you cannot break policy, violate regulations, and change the laws of physics and technology for them, either. A customer doesn't know or care about standard operating procedures. They just want what they want and you are there to assist them in the best way possible. As long as you're not doing anything that will get you fired or incur any disciplinary actions, then do what you have to do. Just get them the help they need. The faster you do that, the sooner they can be off your headset.

TIP NO. 3: YOU ARE THE PROFESSIONAL

That is the one thing you should remember at all times. The customer is calling you for information, be it repairs, billing issues and questions, payments...whatever falls within your purview as a customer service rep at your particular place of employment. At that moment, the customer needs you, regardless of the nature of the call. You are NOT there to argue, bicker, or complain to or with the customer. You are NOT there to entertain the customer's whims, feed their fantasies or sustain unrealistic expectations. It's NOT up to you to convince or persuade a customer's point of view. That's why companies have Sales departments and/or use marketing firms. You are the front line, the first human voice the customer hears after getting past the prompts in the Interactive Voice Response system or IVR. You are there to assist and to educate the customer.

And when all else fails...then it's time to find a new line of work.

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