Made for TV: The Dos and Don’ts of Customer ServiceShannon Werth
Professionals in customer service roles are often seen as the face of an organization and their performance can directly impact customer satisfaction ratings, loyalty, and reputation. A lot can go wrong when somebody needs help, so you need to ensure that your customer service team is equipped with the right skill set for any challenges that come their way.
Whether good or bad, we have all had our unique experiences with customer service. This element of relatability makes for entertaining and often educational customer support scenes in TV and film. Using the frameworks from MHS’s newly revised Customer Service Aptitude Profile™, we analysed the seven competencies of high-performing customer service professionals against our favorite pop culture media. When customer service goes wrong, the entertainment industry can get it right!
A high-performing customer service representative possesses an inner drive to work towards attaining their goals. Those who are higher in achievement motivation demonstrate better job performance and happier customers.
Can you be too supportive in customer service? It’s important to consider your service style with that of the customer. The store clerk in the well-known holiday film “Love Actually” perhaps overperformed for their customer who was looking for a quick transaction. The clerk’s excessive service included boxing the gift, wrapping the box, and decorating with lavender and cinnamon sticks, and then more wrapping! Were these finishing touches necessary? No. Do they demonstrate a customer service representative who scores high in achievement motivation? Yes. It’s important to remember when working towards your professional goals that you keep the customer’s needs in mind.
The ability to remain calm in high-stress, difficult interactions especially in customer service requires strong composure. Customers can often get frustrated with issues beyond the CS rep’s control, but the rep’s job is to handle the situation effectively and build loyalty.
Although an extreme exaggeration of a CS professional upholding their company’s protocol, Greg Focker, from Ben Stiller’s hit “Meet the Parents”, experiences the challenges of dealing with an exceedingly composed individual. The airport agent refuses Greg to board the plane as his row number hadn’t been called yet. Greg, confused since there were no other passengers in the empty gate waiting to board, questions the protocol. In a perky yet assertive manner, the agent continues with the formal boarding process before finally allowing Greg to pass. The agent remained composed and held her ground despite Greg’s aggravation.
Exceptional customer service requires teamwork and collaborating with others to reach a common goal or purpose. A united team of CS professionals portrays a strong, positive image of the company and allows for constructive disagreements and group problem solving to enhance the team’s productivity and creativity.
NBC’s “The Office” demonstrates the need for cooperativeness and teamwork. Jim and Dwight, well-known office foes, struggle to collaborate in every situation. They are unprofessional, play childish pranks, and are unable to put aside their differences for the good of the company. Their rivalry may inhibit their productivity, but it serves as a hilarious plotline for the show.
Great customer service involves having a desire to help others with sensitivity and understanding of their feelings and needs. High-performing CS talent who are strong in Customer Orientation, address the customers’ concerns with empathy and provide solutions to achieve customer satisfaction.
No one wants to be judged, especially by a customer service professional whose job is to help you. Predisposed assumptions based off one’s appearance and presumed socio-economic standing led to an iconic CS faux pas in Julia Robert’s film “Pretty Woman”. In this iconic scene, Roberts’ character Vivian, enters a Beverly Hills boutique and asks the sales associate how much the mannequin’s dress costs. In a total lack of compassion and complete condescension, the sales rep responds, “I don’t think this would fit you.” Vivian hadn’t asked about the size – she asked about the price. The sales rep’s poor customer orientation resulted in the loss of a sale, an upset client, and damaged the store’s pristine reputation.
Customer service requires an element of people skills. Engaging with others and developing relationships with customers in an effortless manner creates a positive service climate and builds customer loyalty.
In the acquisition process for customer service representatives, it’s important to consider the candidate’s skills and qualifications beyond their resume and look at the actual person. In the hilarious Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson film “The Internship”, the two men apply for intern positions at Google. Their extraverted personalities present a “different way of thinking” outside of their standard hiring criteria and challenged the hiring committee to consider “the layover test” – when it comes to customer service, who would you rather be stuck next to at an airport bar for a six-hour delay? In the end, their sociability and life skills earned them the intern positions.
It is essential that customer service professionals feel confident in their abilities and judgments, especially when helping customers through questions and concerns. When a CS rep lacks self-confidence, the customer may view them as less competent and unable to support their needs.
Let’s look at Rachel Green from the classic 90’s sitcom “Friends”. Rachel, a young woman who recently lost the financial support of her ex-fiancé and her father, finds employment at Central Perk as a waitress. She consistently gets orders wrong, chats with her friends throughout her shifts instead of serving customers, and overall is a terrible waitress. In this scene, she justifies her resignation by saying “I don’t care”. Her negative attitude towards her abilities as a waitress and lack of concern for her performance results in poor customer service and customer dissatisfaction.
As a customer service representative, it is important to actively suggest additional products and services that will increase value to the customer. Upselling not only enhances the client’s experience, but it helps the organization gain revenue and customer loyalty.
Upselling should not be used for personal gain. Take it from Eugene Levy’s store clerk character in the 2001 film “Serendipity”. A customer, played by John Cusack, is seeking information from the store’s client records and Eugene’s character leverages this urgency to help meet his “weekly sales draw”. The more John purchased; the more information Eugene would release. Although this strategy did not improve John’s customer service experience, Eugene’s ability to upsell increased his sales performance. Lesson learned: everything comes with a price.
Hiring high-performing customer service talent is no easy feat but hiring the wrong candidate can be worse. Optimize your customer service team today!