One shouldn’t have to think long or hard about the answer to that question. If your answer matches my answer, it will explain all of the not-so-good customer service experiences we’ve all had and point to the biggest problem facing the customer service industry.

Did you answer, “Yes”? Wrong answer.

Face it: If customer service reps were interested in accepting a sales role, they wouldn’t have taken a job in customer service in the first place! But the reality is that customer service does have a sales function and it’s not the function that you think it is.

Sure, customer service reps will take orders, fix ordering mistakes, solve shipment problems, and direct customers to people that can help. But that’s not a sales role. Instead, think about all of your worst customer service experiences…got one? That’s the sales role. In your worst customer service experiences, the customer service representative probably SOLD YOU on the merits of NEVER doing business with them again. You didn’t have to think about it. You didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons. They were so convincing in their role of useless, helpless, inept or arrogant, that you were able to make an on-the-spot, in-the-moment decision, without input or discussion, to leave. The CSR was that good!

It’s not difficult for a CSR to be so bad that they sell you on leaving. It’s harder for them to be so good that they sell you on staying. But their job should be to always make you feel so good about how your problem or issue was handled that you are glad to continue doing business with their company DESPITE the problem you encountered.

Does your company encourage or require its CSRs to use scripts? I believe that one of the single biggest combustion points for problem-bearing customers is when they encounter a CSR who is either unprepared or not allowed to exit their script and have a simple, pleasant conversation. Check out this example from Verizon. 

Sometimes the problem with CSRs is less about the culture and more about a specific CSR’s indifference, lack of intelligence, or failure to really listen. You can also blame management’s inability to hire for the role, and/or their failure to recognize a bad fit or ineffective CSR. Check out this example of stellar customer service from Paychex. When you read it, you'll see that it seemed like the Paychex customer service scenario ended on a happy note—but there’s more. Continue reading to learn what happened next.

We’ve discussed the huge selling responsibility that CSRs have and provided some examples of absolutely horrible, but real, customer service. This article discusses some of the many things CSRs do to anger people, cause them to defect, and encourage them to spread the bad word like I have done. 

 About the Author

6a01a3fcc1b98e970b01a73d7cc319970d-120siDave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, the best-selling author of Baseline Selling, and a leading expert on Sales Force Development. He is the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He possesses more than 30 years of experience in all facets of sales development including sales and sales management training, consulting, infrastructure, leadership, recruiting and coaching.

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