Get Rid of the Robot

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Five year old Hunter asked me why he couldn’t burp out loud in Chick-fil-A. I tried to keep from laughing as I told him it wasn’t polite. I didn’t know if a 5 year old knew the meaning of polite and I really wanted to make sure he understood that burping out loud was not a good habit for a 5 year old to develop. So I asked him if he knew what it meant if I said he was not polite. He explained to me from his kindergarten perspective that not being polite was the same as not being nice. He understood. In recent training with some millennial CSRs I overheard them using some words in ways that didn’t make sense to me. I never heard of salty customers or being salty because of customers before! I could have overlooked that and moved on, but I wanted to understand. Because of my curiosity I now know that salty is more than seasoning.

Any manager can give a new CSR the scripts as a part of new hire orientation. But an AMAZING Customer Service Manager takes the time to make sure a CSR understands the reason behind the questions and details on each script. To only say something or ask something because it is on the script and to not know what the words mean or the intent makes a person robotic. For any person to be excellent at their job there needs to be a comprehension of the reason or purpose behind what we do. The “why” must be provided and understood.

There are certain things that should be memorized because they don’t change. In customer service, the way we start and end our calls doesn’t change so those skills should be memorized. There are some things that are situational in every industry, like knowing when to ask if concrete or roofing is a part of a project that requires a a roll-off container. In customer service, the questions we ask and the information we give is often situational. That is why you can’t afford to operate like a robot and only ask and answer because a script tells you to. You need to know the meaning behind the skills, when things apply and when they don’t and you need to be curious enough to ask questions. That is how employees become experts at what they do and become real assets to your company.

Those companies that measure or grade a customer service representative on call handling skills may use a secret shopper or call monitoring program such as the one that we offer here at Tooty Inc.  The scoring is based on a script and required skills for different customer situations.  A performance scoring system helps to flush out areas where a customer service or sales representative needs to improve in their understanding of why a certain question or information is relevant.  It also helps you look at your team as a whole so that you can create additional training to educate everyone on the reason behind required questions and information.

As a manager you need to know the “whys”, too.  Whenever scripting and performance scores are involved managers and the representatives can become hyper focused on the score.  Scores often translate to bonuses or become a part of the employee file which makes the focus understandable.  I have met several managers along the way who have directed their team to do everything on a script even if it doesn’t apply to the conversation  in order to have a high score.  Imagine how strange it would seem if your current customer was calling to buy something and your representative asked, “How did you hear about us?”

We need to change our approach from telling people what to do, to doing everything we can to help them understand why. Get rid of the robot and develop an industry expert.

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