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The Isolated Life of Customer Service Reps

Have you ever really thought about what it must be like to be a customer service representative?

A day in the life of a rep typically means dealing with irate and irritated customers, many of whom are completely justified in their gripes. These comrades of both company and customer must don protective armor to protect their own feelings, slay mighty nuisances and deal with complete crazy guys, like this dude. They alternate between making someone’s day and ruining it completely. It’s no easy task, and yet often companies stick these brand ambassadors in the basement call center and treat them as if they have nothing valuable to contribute to the greater discussions around customer experience.


Many of them, based on my observations, are left on their own. They develop both good and bad ways to deal with the many complaints and questions thrown at them in a given shift. They share what they do amongst themselves, with their peers, but too often those who could make meaningful changes for the customers ignore the valuable feedback gathered by the people dealing directly with customers.

Understanding how to connect the dots within an organization is just as vital as connecting the journey for your customers.

Fancy software systems can help, but only if they are used. Customer Relationship Management systems, while incredibly valuable, are often not universally adopted within an organization. This leads to the best techniques, knowledge and feedback trapped inside your employees’ heads.

Without any additional investment, company leadership could change the way customer service is integrated into the entire customer experience.

Listen In!

A simple solution for isolating your customer service team is to literally listen in at regular intervals. This doesn’t mean relying on the supervisor to share the good stuff. This means once a month (or once a quarter if monthly is unrealistic) have the executives listen in to 20 customer service calls. Don’t set expectations; just allow them to hear the reality of these conversations.

Most likely, each one will walk away with ideas around how to improve the customer experience to avoid some complaints in the future.

Shine a Spotlight On Your Best

Great customer service folks do amazing things. They turn complete adversaries into your best advocates. They make even the most loyal customer feel even more valued and appreciated. They do this because of who they are, not how they were trained. These people have so much to teach others. Let them! Find a few great examples of customer service done SO RIGHT that you can’t help but smile when you think about it. Share these examples and recognize these  superstars for what they are. Do more than reward them, recognize them and let others learn from their leadership.

Reward Tough Feedback

Customers might call in to the customer service line with a question, but often they drop some serious anecdotal information in passing. Hearing a small complaint from one customer could mean many others have the same complaint, but never say anything. Ask your customer service team to track those bits of information and then reward the comments that will make the biggest positive impact for customers.

Don’t isolate your customer service pros. Reward and recognize everything they’re doing for your company.

Do you feel like your customer service team is integrated into the bigger experience?

Image Credit: Jeremiah Ro via Creative Commons

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Join the Conversation

Brcorrea13 5pts

Thanks for the post Jeannie.

I agree that customer service deserves more constructive attention than the amount it sometimes receives.  As someone working in the social media space--an area the seems to be digging its way into the customer service mold--how can we also make this experience an undisputed success?

Certainly the review process for social media customer service interaction can be more concrete, as we can look up conversations, but I'm curious about how we might approach digital customer service with the same positive approach.  Furthermore, how should we train employees on social media etiquette and company policy without devoting too time and resource?

Thanks again,


jeanniecw 5pts

@Brcorrea13 Hi Brian, Sorry I missed this originally! Thanks for the comment. Social customer care is a HUGE topic. I just led a webinar series about that subject and the approaches within different companies can be quite varied. There are some really great examples of quick videos by companies like UPS and social media policies by others like Coca-Cola which are concise and direct. Can be very helpful! Hope that helps. Good luck with the mission!

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