Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Customer Care an unworthy job?

I am sure we have all read the books - maybe even tried it out in front of the mirror:

I am talking about Self-esteem boosting.

Does it work if you stand in front of the mirror every morning and tell you self that you are strong and beautiful when you know you are not that strong and on the beautiful scale – you probably manage a “pretty enough”. I do not know…. I leave that to others to decide.

What I do know is, if you constantly hear that the job you do is the lowliest of all jobs in an organization – you will believe it.

I work with people who are smart, educated and in every other sense have a very high self esteem. But when it comes to their job as Customer Care agents they are sure the job they do is of little value to the company and they decide to see their job as an unfortunate interlude in an otherwise fabulous career.

That is wrong.

When I go out and meet new people I am always asked “what do you do for a living?” if I answer “I am in Customer Care…” their eyes glaze over and they quickly move on to more pressing subjects such as “where do you live?” or “do you have children?” – if on the other hand I tell them I am responsible for a team of 80 customer facing professional s – I get more questions and “ahh” and “ohhs”.

Why is it that a Customer Service agent is seen as a job not worth doing?

In fact it is one of the most satisfying jobs you can have. Granted it is incredible hard and stressful – it takes a certain kind of person to multitask the entire day, to be given scripts and measurement for everything you do. Not to mention the potential that somebody will listen into or tape the conversations you have with your customers. Not many Sales reps, logistics people, VP’s or even CEO’s, would be able to work under such pressure day after day after day.

And although I am slowly changing the opinion in my team it is like turning a big oceanliner - it takes a long time...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Moving the Company vision from cost to profit

Why is it so difficult for companies to get the treatment of the customer right? Maybe you need to get the company vision right.

First of all most companies are seeing their Customer Service department as a cost center not profit center. I am sure I am not alone when I have been in the situation that the company launches an new customer focused initiative where “we are really going to differentiate ourselves with the great service we provide” - as long as there are no added costs. Albeit not necessarily impossible for a company to improve their customer service without added costs – if you run a somewhat mature department the low-hanging fruit are all gone and you probably need to spend some, to make it happen.

Secondly, Customer service agent is regarded an entry level job (and I am sure if you work in Customer Service, you have seen how quickly the high performers are snatched up by other departments and you have to hire and train again). Of course it is great that Customer service agents can grow and develop in the company, but would it not be wonderful if the rest of the company did see CS as a valued and important link to the customers, gave them the credit and by that actually also improved the job satisfaction of the CS agent.

That is a big part of the issue. The CS agents are not proud and happy with what they do, after being told time and time again how low their job is – I see fine people doing a great job. And they are not proud of their job!!! I believe this is one of the first things that needs to be tackled – Make sure your agents are proud of what they are doing!!!