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Michael Casey

Pressing Ahead

By Michael Casey

About Michael

Michael Casey is the founder of Survey Advantage and strategic partner with several printer associations and franchises. By leveraging information from a printer’s estimation and production software, Mike’s business has helped hundreds of printers automate their customer feedback and lead generation process. He may be reached via e-mail or (401) 560-0311 ext. 103. Read printer case studies on the Survey Advantage Website.

Identifying Customer Service Reps Who Just Get It

Each month, I read hundreds of my printer clients’ buyer surveys and the same CSR names come up in the comments. Buyers go out of their way to explain their appreciation to these reps’ bosses and rave about the service they received on their last orders.

These standout CSRs are remarkable at serving customers. They drive repeat orders, generate referrals and build a reputation for great service for their employers. They take the position seriously. These CSRs get it.

I have attempted to summarize what makes these CSRs so special to hopefully raise the bar and challenge all CSR teams to do better. Our industry needs more CSRs who embody the following characteristics and approach to the job:

1) They know the four steps to managing an effective customer service request.

These CSRs are proficient at: (1) engaging customers to lead them through the conversation, (2) asking the right questions to understand their needs, (3) explaining a possibly approach to solve a need, and, most importantly, (4) gaining a commitment or agreement before moving ahead. If you have CSRs who routinely work through these four essential steps, then give them a raise. Customers love the way they take control to ensure the right outcome.

Do you have a CSR proficient in this area? Make that person the team leader and have others watch her/him in action.

2) They know how to ask the right questions.

They are incredible listeners, acknowledge customer responses appropriately, and are disciplined in asking questions that are broad and deep enough to capture all essential information. Such pros even have a sheet in front of them with the different questions that should be asked to ensure they don’t miss anything important. Asking the right questions helps customers crystallize their thinking as the two parties team up on a solution. Give these CSRs the Investigative Reporter Award. They know how to probe.

3) They know their role.

Customers feel better at the end of every interaction they have with CSRs that get it. They are consistent and always make the customer feel unique and special. They enhance the relationship, leaving each customer feeling as if he/she is the printer’s only customer. They increase what Stephen Covey calls the “Emotional Bank Account” in his best-selling book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

These superior reps have a knack for building strong customer relationships over time, one customer at a time. They explore all opportunities to serve in order to ensure the optimum customer experience. Customers talk about them in a positive way all of the time, extolling their positive, helpful, friendship-oriented way. Sharing how they went above and beyond. Recounting how they drove that print job out at 8 p.m. at night to make a crazy schedule.

Do you have a CSR who builds relationships overt time and goes the extra mile for customers? Give him/her the Extra Mile Award.

4) They know why customers buy.

They know all about the foundation principle—TRUST. They earn trust and they live by their principles both in and out of the office. How do they establish trust? By being other-centered, not self-centered. They think nothing of waiting to go to lunch or leaving late to serve a customer. Customer’s trust they will do their best, be there for them, and tell them the truth. No sugar coating, no spin, no lying; just down to earth service and respect. They know motives are transparent and wear their other-centered motive on their sleeves.

Do you have the most trustworthy CSR on your team that just beams of trust and integrity? Give that CSR tickets to the ballgame so they can take their favorite customer.

5) They know how to get along with anyone.

They know that each customer wants to be treated a certain way in order to feel comfortable. They know customers buy from people they like and with whom they have a rapport. They have a knack for knowing when to ask about the weather, and when to get right down to business. They can style flexible in any situation to meet every customer’s need to be treated their way. They do this all in service of the customer. They know it is not about them, but about the customer experience. They know how to read customers and adjust to meet their present mood or demeanor.

Do you have a CSR that knows how to read customers? Someone who knows how to work with the slow-talking, relationship-oriented types as well as the fast-talking, Wall Street types. Give that rep a night out to dinner.

6) They know their stuff.

Customers respect these CSRs because they are knowledgeable. They are credible. They have the battle scares and have taken time to learn the business—how things get done effectively and efficiently, know printing and design to advise the customer with different options to consider, and customers see huge value in learning from them. They break down barriers. They are like that whiz mechanic everyone goes to when they have problems with their car.

Do you have a CSR who has taken the time to learn the business and loves offering solid advice to customers? Give that CSR a Doctorate Certificate.

7) They know how to balance logic and emotion.

They know how to manage anger from customers no matter how brutal the conversation gets. They never assign blame, show indifference, respond emotionally, or try to fix the problem too soon. They first let customers vent as needed. Then, they move ahead to get an understanding of the customer’s needs and desires before moving to possible solutions. They never lose control even if they feel they are right and the customer is wrong. They are problem solvers. Give them a Rubik’s Cube.

One last note: Quickly address any CSR who just doesn’t get it. Don’t procrastinate; quickly take action even if the rep is your husband, wife, child, uncle, or mother. I’ve seen too many printers keep someone in the wrong position for the wrong reason.

Everyone in the company needs to be moving in the right direction, otherwise that out-of-step person will kill a lot of repeat business opportunities before you know it. If you have a hunch, you are probably right. Promote magnificence and keep conscious of these seven traits when serving customers or looking to hire the best.

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