The Coach's Corner

Archive for May, 2017

What is One of the Hardest Jobs to Perform Today?

May 22nd, 2017 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

According to a Harvard Business Review article entitled Kick-A__ Customer Service — Consumers Want Results — Not Sympathy, 81 percent of customers across all industries attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative. The investment in self-service technologies has been enormously effective at removing low-complexity issues from the live service queue. According to the article’s authors, 84 percent of customers prefer a straightforward solution to their problem. When they do call for assistance, they’re knowledgeable and very demanding.

The authors conclude that customer service representatives fall into seven profiles, which they outline in the article. The big “aha” is focused around two profile types: Empathizers, who enjoy solving others’ problems, seek to understand behaviors and motives, and listen sympathetically; and Controllers, who are outspoken and opinionated, and like demonstrating their expertise and directing the customer interaction.

Intuitively, I would think Empathizers would be the best reps — and so do customer service rep managers, since Empathizers represent 32 percent of all representatives (the largest category). As it turns out, we’re wrong! The trouble is, the messaging managers use in recruiting service reps is often stereotypical of yesterday’s customer service workers, and tends to repel rather than attract Controllers, who represent only 15 percent of all reps. Controllers want flexibility to express their personality and handle issues as they think best (versus following a script), are keen problem-solvers with a unique ability to think on their feet, and are self-starters who are comfortable taking the initiative.

If you’re part of a company that provides customer service reps who assist clients by phone (and probably face-to-face, too), I would highly recommend reading the HBR article. Our old, well-established “best practices” no longer work in this tech-savvy world.

By the way, according to the authors’ research, the best reps, Controllers, are paid the same as other reps and are satisfied with it.

Be Careful What You Say

May 8th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I was recently working with a client and, during our interaction, I was reminded of an experience that impacted my entire career.

The scene was the celebration of new partners at my former firm. It was — and still is — a tradition to have newly elected partners (new owners in the firm) give an acceptance speech at an all-partner and staff conference. It has always been the highlight of the year.

Years ago, a new partner — I’m guessing this individual may have been very nervous — made some very colorful, off-the-wall, hard to believe comments. Those of us in the audience were stunned and kept waiting for the punch line, which never came. The room became very quiet. I don’t remember anything after his speech; we were all in shock.

The next day, everyone received a memo (yes, a paper memo in our mailbox; for those of you who have never experienced this, please ask someone more senior than you to explain).

There was a brief cover memo from the firm’s HR partner, and then an apology memo from the newly elected partner. The cover memo said, “Let us not judge one another by the dumbest thing someone has ever done or said.” Wow. It was perfect.

I will resist getting into a philosophical or theological discourse, but suffice it to say that, in a few words, our HR partner got us all back to work and prevented days, weeks, and months of gossip and speculation (i.e., a lot of wasted time).

What is the application for you? Today, things move so fast and sometimes, under severe duress in trying to serve customers, we lose it in some way. I’m not talking about chronic road-ragers, but those of us who drop our guard and say something out of character that we soon regret. Let’s learn to apologize and to forgive.

p.s. This new partner went on to have a very successful career and was loved by his clients and colleagues alike.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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