CSRs: The Face of Your Company

Posted Thursday, April 17, 2014 in Customer Experience by Ronni Marshak

In this week’s article, I document my trying experience with various customer service departments at Bank of America. But none of it really is the fault of the agents.

Customer service is one of the most difficult, yet undervalued, jobs at a large organization. You aren’t creating products or marketing campaigns. You aren’t analyzing data and finding ways to cut costs. And, unless you are charged with up-selling and cross-selling to make quota (a bad idea, by the way), you aren’t generating revenue

What you are doing is creating and nurturing relationships with your customers—you know, the people who actually give you money and keep you in business

That’s why I’ve always been a strong advocate of empowering customer service agents by giving them authority to make decisions that can save a tenuous relationship, even if the decision might cost the company money (for example, offer a discount or free item, reimburse shipping, upgrade service levels for free, etc.).

But in order for that to be effective, you have to hire the right people to be the face of your company to customers. They must be smart. They must be able to think quickly. They must be creative. They must be both sympathetic and empathetic.

Bank of America Credit Card

And you have to arm them with the tools they need to do a good job: continuous training on your products, policies, and processes; visibility into customer data and related information that impact customers (such as inventory); freedom to use their own words and make their own decisions (I know, I know, I already said that, but it merits repeating—providing annoying scripts that an agent must follow, “Have a wonderful day” right after a customer has broken down swearing and crying about your company’s refund policies is not appropriate!).

Bank of America failed its CSRs by not providing complete and consistent information. That resulted in me having to spend a lot of time and experience a lot of frustration trying to achieve my goal. As you read my story, though, remember to place the blame where it belongs: on the company leaders who didn’t arm their front-line troops and who probably don’t realize that, to customers, they are the bank!


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