I walked down to a Customer Service Representative’s (CSR) cubicle today to ask him when he had time to meet today on a project. He was on the phone but saw me and motioned to me to stay . While I was waiting I overhead part of the conversation . He was great on the phone. Why isn’t everyone I deal with across the board in every company I deal with as good as he is?
It struck me, having and training CSRs needs to be a central business imperative. In a customer centric market sales is only part of the mix for a customer. We all are really in sales. This particular CSR is well trained and embodies the brand culture at CRW Graphics but also understands the brand promise and how to deliver on it. (CRW Graphics is a B2B company whose core competency includes print, mail shop, variable data, integrated marketing and more.).
Customer service in most B2B companies can help solidify or help destroy customer relationships once the initial sales interactions have passed . The most successful B2B companies that I dealt with when I was on the purchasing side of the fence always seemed to have trained their personnel, all their personnel, in what the brand promise of the company was , how to deliver in it and gave them the tools and the autonomy to make that promise a reality. Just as marketing and sales represents the company so does customer service.
In the same way that sales has input into marketing strategy so should the CSRs. Input from all the stakeholders, marketing, management, sales and CRSs could help refine the companies positioning by adding new dimensions to the understanding of their interaction with the marketplace, more insight into the customer profiles and even to marketing materials. CRW Graphics is a “high touch, high tech” company and with regular training sessions for sales and CSRs everyone participates in training exercises to keep up to speed. But not everyone does that. I see it at some of my customers. The CSRs in one of my customer’s call centers can’t deliver a “great impression” or fulfill the brand promise because it seems that they all operate autonomously and each CSR has their own spin on how to interact with the customer on the other end of the line. It seems no one ever listens to their calls to look for a better way to do what they do. Overseeing calls and customer interactions can also help find customer service issues and even provide insights into the branding that will help all involved in marketing and sales. It is just another stage in the customer retention process.
Make it easy for your CSRs to shine. A division of CRW did so by establishing a technology message board of sorts, a WIKI, so that once a problem was solved the answer was posted so everyone could share in the solution. Simple, effective, leading to increased efficiency and better customer service. Technological tools don’t have to be expensive to have value.
With proper training and the right tools and authority CSRs can all be on the same page when responding to similar customer issues and learn from one another. After all we are all in sales.