On Being an Accountable Customer Service Leader

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

I recently wrote an article about a new quality process where I coached my team without showing them a score. So far it’s going great and the team has been receptive to the coaching.

The other day I was reviewing emails sent to our customers to make sure they were doing all of the following behaviors (Coincidentally, these are the behaviors on our quality form):

  • Making a human connection
  • Properly authenticating the account
  • Reviewing the customer’s history and notes
  • Providing accurate information
  • Communicating the message effectively
  • Empowering the customer
  • Leaving complete account notes for the next person who interacts with the customer.

It’s a fairly simple set of criteria and I believe that if our customer support team consistently does these things, our company will earn high customer satisfaction marks from our customers.

History lesson

This exercise reminded me of the time when we started this blog back in 2012. I was about 12 years into a career in customer service, still trying to figure out what my career would be. Somewhere in there, I came to grips with the fact that customer service is my career and I’m proud of it.

Anyway, I was generally nice and helpful to most customers — but not consistently with those customers who were escalated or simply slow to get the point. So if you were a competent, friendly customer, you could expect a good experience when you spoke with Jeremy Watkin. I’m not necessarily proud of this.

Starting a blog about customer service became instant accountability for me. As I wrote about both good and bad customer experiences, I realized that I had the power to deliver consistently awesome service to my customers. And furthermore, the team I was managing expected me to lead by example and show them the way they were to treat customers.

Quality as accountability

So as I was recently evaluating my team, I was reminded of the importance of being accountable. If I’m going to hold each person to a standard, I had better take a few extra moments to personalize my message, proofread my grammar and spelling, and make sure I’m providing those extra resources to help educate the customer, preventing more back and forth than is necessary.

What if my team were to stumble upon an email I sent to a customer and found that it didn’t meet or exceed the standard I’m holding them to?

The challenge

My challenge to you is simple: Be Accountable! Here are some ideas to help contact center leaders do this:

  1. Evaluate customer interactions periodically to be reminded of the standard you’ve set for your team. No leader is above this standard.
  2. Interact with customers out on the contact center floor, in full view of your team, being an example to them.
  3. Ask members of your team to monitor your interactions and provide you with honest feedback. Not only will you be reminded of your standard, but so will they — possibly more so than if you coached them.
  4. Listen to your own call recordings, read your own emails and chats, and evaluate them for quality. Don’t we all love to listen to a recording of our own voice?
  5. Think about your last 3-5 customer service encounters. What behaviors should you emulate and which should you avoid? Become a student of the game and begin to hone your craft as a customer service professional. You’ll be amazed at what you learn.

The amazing part in all of this, at least for me, was that once I committed to being accountable as a leader and customer service professional, I began to enjoy the work a whole lot more. I saw turning around an upset customer or providing the most thorough reply I possibly could as a real accomplishment — something that I could strive for on each and every interaction.

If you’re not accountable already, give it a shot and let me know how this works out for you. If you need someone to check in with you periodically, leave a comment below and we’ll be in touch.

Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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