As an auto claims representative for a Fortune 100 insurance company, I went from having one of the lowest scores in my office of 150 people, to consistently having one of the five highest scores in the whole company.
Working as a customer service representative can be really frustrating, but it can also be highly rewarding. You’re supporting a product you didn’t sell, or a service you didn’t provide, but your job is so important. You’re where the company promise is kept or broken.
I’d like to share with you the three key ingredients to my success, which were shared with me by one of my team members who naturally achieved those consistent high CSAT scores.
How I Did It
At my insurance company we were expected to keep our calls to a certain length, maintain a certain inbound/outbound ratio, and maintain a certain customer satisfaction (CSAT) score. Whether in a large call center or a small office, your company measures your performance using these types of metrics, which are a key factor in determining things like annual raises, bonuses, or promotions.
Maintaining the ratios and call volume was fairly easy once I had a little experience. Where I struggled was in achieving and maintaining a consistently high CSAT score. We all said “CSAT is king” because if the CSAT score was below the threshold, it didn’t matter if my call ratio was perfect if my customers were unhappy. Many companies make CSAT king because if you’re losing loyal customers, that means you’re losing money.
According to a study by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase. Loyalty is the key to profitability, and satisfied customers are loyal customers.
Some representatives achieve the best CSAT scores without extra effort, while others work at it but never quite get there.
We’ll get into how to up those scores in a minute, but first, let’s listen to an example of a customer service call.
A Customer Service Lesson From Comcast
Comcast has lately been in the spotlight for their customer service woes, and attempts to fix their reputation. After listening to this call, one can only surmise how bad the rep’s CSAT score is. While he is a glaring example of all the things you shouldn’t do, he’s also a perfect example of why the following three customer service strategies can improve your CSAT score.
1. Press Reset and Move On
Maybe you just got off a call with the most awful customer ever. It could be that you just saw your performance evaluation from last month, you missed your goals and you’re upset. Perhaps you have something going on at home that primed you for a really bad day. No matter the cause, you’re aggravated and you’ve had it, but your work day is still before you.
We’ve all had that really bad moment that turns into a really bad day. Your customers don’t really care about why you’re upset, they need help, and you can be their Comcast Rep or you can be their saving grace.
Dale Carnegie said “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business. Yes, and that is also true if you are a housewife, architect or engineer.”
Each new customer interaction should be entirely fresh and new for you. I used to imagine an actual reset button that I would press after something frustrated me. Shed any frustration before you interact with the next customer with a few deep breaths. Then, visualize the amazing potential of your new opportunity to interact with your next customer.
2. Listen Actively
Listening is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. There are a few key steps to listening that will help the customer feel cared for and connected to your company.
Remove any and all physical or mental distractions. Don’t be like my husband when he’s playing that awesome new video game. I’ll ask “honey, do you want oysters or shrimp cocktail before our steak tonight?” But he’s only half-listening to me and says “Ranch dressing is fine, dear.” If distracted, you’ll miss the questions your customer is asking you, your answer will reveal your preoccupation, and both you and your customer will be dissatisfied.
Your company script is not the Holy Grail of customer interaction, it’s a suggestion for how to address certain scenarios. In that Comcast call, it was clear that the rep had been given a script for when a customer called to cancel service. Sometimes, you’ll follow the script exactly, get all the answers, and that’s great. But other times, your customer will have one clearly stated goal and he doesn’t want to follow your script. That’s okay, follow your customer’s lead if they’ve made it clear they’re wanting something different.
3. Replace Negative Emotions with Positive
A recent study shows that negative emotions last the longest. When a customer experiences a service/product failure, they will experience one of those long-lasting negative emotions. As a rep, you can use this time to quickly replace those negative emotions with positive ones, and help reframe the whole experience.
Showing empathy is an important step towards moving the customer away from the negative into the positive. Some phrases you can use are:
- “I’m so sorry to hear that you…”
- “I can understand how frustrating it is when your widget doesn’t work.”
- “I hate that you experienced that, but I’m glad you called so I can help you.”
Your goal is to help them release the negative feelings with compassion, and replace them with positive feelings like joy or surprise. If you can solve the problem and end with the customer feeling positively, they’ll think of you positively. And that can only serve your score well.
Achieving a higher CSAT score isn’t out of reach, no matter how long you’ve been in your current position, if you use the three strategies I’ve shared with you.
- Press that reset button
- Actively listen to your customer
- Replace their negative emotions with positive ones
What strategies have you found to be effective for improving your CSAT scores? Let us know in the comments!