Learn how to train your CSRs in this podcast blog!
Danielle Putnam, President of The New Flat Rate, sat down with Steve Coscia, Founder of Coscia Communications, to talk about his top tips for providing great customer service.
A little about Steve:
Steve Coscia is an expert CSR trainer. He teaches that successful companies believe that customer relationships win over customer transactions. He shared some great tips to create the best first impressions, mutual trust, and phenomenal rapport with your customers.
Here’s what we had to say:
Your customers want to feel as though they’re being understood.
That can happen in a face-to-face conversation, over the phone, or in a text message or an email. Customers are easier to serve when they feel like the person that they’re talking to understands them.
The top skill a CSR needs to know is how to listen.
Regardless of the method of communication, CSRs have to know how to listen. You might think you can’t listen while you’re texting, but you can still perceive and discern. So when you’re looking at a text, you want to do more than rush an answer. You want to fully understand the customer’s intent and what they are feeling. From there, you write an answer, and then the customer starts to feel understood. It’s so much easier to have a conversation, and so much easier to solve a problem, when there’s mutual understanding. And that’s been that way for decades.
Danielle expressed that as a society, we’re so busy, and everything’s so fast paced, that our lens becomes really self-centered. It’s all about me, me, me, me, because we’re in such a hurry. We don’t ever slow down to think about their perspective and see things through their eyes, and that’s a huge pitfall when we are working to serve our customers.
The second tool for CSRs and Dispatchers is to SLOW DOWN.
Steve emphasized that one key factor in good communication is the pace of speech. We are more articulate when we slow ourselves down. Anyone can be in a hurry. Anyone can make other people feel like they don’t have time for them, but it’s that small ratio of companies out there, the ones in that top five or 10%, that say, regardless of how busy we get, we make our customers feel like we’ve got all the time in the world for you. What an easy way to differentiate your company from others!
Next, it’s vital that business owners and managers are trained well, so they can help set their team up for success.
It’s easy as an owner and as a leader in the business to point blame, and we constantly have to step above that as leadership and recognize the importance of holding people accountable. It’s not micromanagement, setting the processes and holding the accountability there; it’s done so the whole company can move up to excellence. And often, when we work with companies, we’re finding that people don’t want to have to do that. They don’t clearly define expectations. They just want their people to do things the way that it’s in their head, and they may not clearly define that expectation. Then they don’t follow up with the accountability.
When you’re working with your leadership team, do you have a process that you have them follow?
Managers know what’s in their head, but it’s not always easy to get across to the team.
Here’s what Steve conveys to management.
“If, for example, you had a little conference room with three supervisors, your number one job is to help those who work for you to be more successful. So, let’s think about how we can make them more successful. What do they need?”
- They need to know the parameters of their processes and their standard operating procedures. They need to understand why completing paperwork before they leave a service call is so important to the people back at the office. That regardless how much of a rush they might be in, they have to make the time to be 100% complete.
- We also want to make templates for employees. Let them see what a 100% completed service invoice looks like. After you finish installing an evaporator coil, how do you write it up? The part number, the serial number, the date code, how it’s supposed to look. When we create templates, when we create processes and flow charts, you start to help people to be more successful. Because now it’s not in your head. Now it’s written down. Now it’s not vapor, and we can improve that. And operations manuals don’t have to be exhaustive. It could be five to 10 pages.
Ask yourself this: “How can we make everyone that works here more successful?” On a recent Dave Ramsey podcast, he talked about the culture in his company. And he said “In our company, we’re French. Oui, oui, oui. We, we, we are excellent. We do things this way. We do things that way. And when new employees are introduced to their culture, they have 90 days to learn. The process is in the systems. But after that 90 days, they have to be French, too. And so it’s everybody’s job in the organization to continue to enforce excellence. And to be the example of the leadership, that we do things this way, we do things that way. And that way, they can remind one another on the team of their culture of “we.”
How did Steve fall in love with customer service?
“It happened back in the 1980s when the light bulb went off, and the light bulb was when I learned that the truth is non-negotiable.”
You’re better to disappoint people with the truth than to satisfy them with a lie.
Obviously, that sounds harsh, but perhaps you don’t have an item in stock. You’re going to have to disappoint someone with the truth, but you can still do it with finesse. Rather than say, “We don’t have the part, we can’t do that,” you add a little finesse. “Here’s what I can do. Here’s what I’ll do next.” And you’re speaking action words. You’re saying what you’re going to do instead of what you can’t do or what you don’t have.
“The whole finesse part was interesting because as a younger person, when I understood that, I saw the response from customers. They were so much easier to serve. They were so much more cooperative, so much more patient.”
Why? Steve was making himself a little more likable, and any psychology professor would tell you that people who are likable do better in life. They get better jobs; they sell more. It’s just one of those things. So that was the light bulb where it started, that the truth is non-negotiable.
If you’d like to reach out to Steve to learn more about top-notch customer service, contact him at www.Coscia.com