Are Great Service Reps Born or Made?
By Bill Durr
Posted in Customer Engagement
Psychologists have long debated the nature versus nurture argument: Which of the two has the greater influence on who we become? Stated more simply, are we the product of our genetic code or our upbringing and environment? A related argument—certainly less weighty—is; can anyone be trained to deliver great customer service, or is it a natural talent? Given the profound impact that great customer service has on customer loyalty, it’s an important question to consider.
Years ago a colleague suggested there would come a day when computers and software would be so powerful and sophisticated that a contact center could take minimally skilled workers, plunk them into cubicles, show them how to navigate the computer applications, provide branching scripts to cover all contingencies, and you could transform low-skilled workers into world-class customer service agents in almost no time.
Now, years later, the computers are capacious and speedy, the software is slick and powerful—and the question lingers. Can processing power and clever software produce a great customer service agent, or is world-class service delivery innate in certain people?
Given the attrition rate that many (most?) contact centers experience, particularly in the first year after training, I suspect that more often than we care to admit, we are pounding square pegs into round holes. My sense is that there are customer-service “naturals,” people who have just the right mix of personality and job fit traits.
Here’s the takeaway: If you think that everyone can be taught empathy and rapport—critical components in delivering excellent customer experiences—then you will hire people strictly on who interviews well and seems to have the appropriate skill levels and background. If this is all you do to screen job candidates, then you will find that too many are actually “bad fits” who will display less-than-desirable work attitudes resulting in poor performance, poor customer satisfaction ratings and a lot of “just out of training” turnover.
Does that sound familiar? I think it accounts for a significant portion of the debilitating attrition contact centers experience globally. The key to great customer service is a combination of hiring the right people and using workforce optimization principles to polish them into customer loyalty creators.
Predicated upon the notion that people can be developed and trained to be world-class agents, Impact 360 workforce optimization is a suite of tightly integrated applications. Ample evidence demonstrates that workforce optimization technologies in the hands of skillful management can indeed broadly raise the performance bar.
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