What you should look for in a customer service employee

customer service
Anouche Newman


written on May 15, 2017

By choosing someone who embodies a positive work ethic and a forthright attitude towards customer service, organisations can save a lot of time, money and resources.

While employees will generally improve their standard of customer service with age and experience, their initial interpretation of customer service is critical as it serves as the foundation for all customer interactions. Understanding that there are different ‘models’ of customer service is an important consideration when selecting frontline staff.

In a 2010 article , Rita Di Masco describes three different interpretations of customer service, or service models: low, medium and high. The highest interpretation is known as a ‘win-win’ model of customer service and is defined as “the formation of mutually beneficial relationships with customers through problem solving”. But what does this mean?

Aside from having a passion for the job and strong dose of intellectual curiosity, here are the qualities of somebody who embodies a win-win model of customer service:

1. Treat the customer with a mutual respect

Win-win service model employees put themselves in the shoes of the customer and seek their respect. Rather than using formulaic scripts, they acknowledge the importance of humanity by communicating in an authentic way. They know that each customer has unique needs and, when given the right information, can make their own decisions.

2. Act as a genuine problem-solving resource

These employees take a genuine interest in solving the customer’s problem. They’re not afraid to ask questions and they focus on getting to the crux of what the customer needs and why it is that the customer has reached out to them for help.

3. Know that the customer’s happiness affects their happiness and the bottom-line

Effective customer service professionals know that if the customer experience is below par, this will reflect poorly on the organisation and will prevent the customer returning. To avoid this, win-win employees prioritise customer relationships over other tasks, responding in a prompt manner. They get job satisfaction from knowing that they have resolved a customer’s problems.

4. Understand that strong team relationships are vital

Win-win employees treat their colleagues and their customers with the same level of respect. They understand that strong internal relationships help drive employee motivation and that an employee cannot be expected to perform if they are not adequately supported by their colleagues. These customer service employees lead by example and offer support to others and motivation wherever it is needed.

(Read our article about why trust is the secret to creating effective teams.)

5. Incite loyalty through meaningful relationships

To develop loyalty, top performing employees will go out of their way to meet the unique needs of the customer. They will anticipate the future needs of their customers by considering problems holistically and offering their services for any future issues. To maintain this loyalty, win-win employees, where appropriate, will keep in regular contact with their customers.

The take-away? When hiring customer-facing staff, it’s important to take into consideration that ‘good’ customer service is a mindset that can be taught. , The question to ask is how does this mindset come to life in your organisation? And how can you support staff in understanding what actions they need to take to ensure a win-win approach in all customer service interactions?

Anouche Newman is CEO of the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA)

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