• The role of the customer service representative (CSR) is changing – but to what? And how do CSRs differ from business to business?
• In this article, we’ll explore how to pick the right blend of personality traits and skills for your company – so your customer-facing CSRs are an authentic voice for your brand
Read time: 5 minutes
We’ve talked previously on Future. Customer. about the role of the customer service representative, and how it is evolving to keep pace with ever-changing customer demands and technology.
Nowadays, the fact is that customer service representatives aren’t all cut from the same cloth. Consumers want to hear a real, authentic voice from the brands they interact with. That extends to the CSRs who support them. After all, CSRs are often the main point of contact and channel of communication between a business and its customers, so a one-size-fits all approach to customer service simply won’t work any more. This is having a real impact on everything from how CSRs are hired to the training they receive on the job.
And CSR no longer means someone who sits in a contact centre taking calls from customers all day. Today, ‘customer service representative’ is just one job title which covers many different profiles and methods of communicating with customers.
In the same way, the skills and personality traits that a CSR needs to deliver great customer service will differ hugely from one business to another. Though the precise blend of personality, skills and aptitudes depends on lots of different factors, it’s mostly the types and volume of enquiries handled, whether they are technically complex or relatively straightforward questions, and the tone and personality of the business itself, that decide what type of person is needed for the role.
We know that having access to a breadth and depth of CSR ‘types’, with different experiences and educational backgrounds, can be really valuable. It means businesses can dial up or down on certain skills, depending on their needs at the time. For example, CSRs with strong technical expertise might be more in demand arund the time of a new product launch, to field complex customer questions.
Identifying the type of CSR your business needs starts with understanding the personality of your brand and its customers. That’s why we look at the traits, characteristics and competencies of our CSRs so we can match them to what our clients need. In total, we have identified a number of ‘types’ – and they’re not always as straightforward or obvious as you might think.
Here’s a snapshot of three of our CSR ‘types’ that you might not expect, and their most important attributes that make them perfectly suited for their specific roles.
1. The digital marketing consultant – a specialist in SEO and online advertising
A strong level of numeracy and technical know-how is the most important characteristic for this CSR type, which is often found in the highest-paid and most specialised roles. They frequently have a marketing background and might be found working in business-to-business organisations helping SMEs with online advertising and online search tools. A hunger to learn all about new digital platforms and trends, and how they can be best utilized by your customers, marks out this CSR type as adding real value and consultancy.
2. The web content moderator – socially and culturally aware, with strong nerves and good judgement
Not every CSR role means working with customers directly. The web content moderator type is a perfect example of a vital CSR function which reviews content against the terms and conditions of social media platforms. A blend of strong attention to detail and great judgement is crucial.
It’s also essential that the web content moderator is trusted to make the right call when it comes to approving content. While most brands now have their own guidelines about the user-generated content they’re happy to have on their social media channels, ultimately it will come down to the subjective view of the CSR to put these in place.
3. The web content developer – creative and innovative content writer to engage with whole communities of customers
The typical picture of a CSR is someone who speaks to customers on a one-to-one basis, answering questions or solving problems, whether by phone or online chat. But there’s an emerging group of CSRs who are tasked with engaging entire communities of customers via web copy, social media content or email marketing.
They take information about what engages customers and build those learnings into developing exciting content for the future. This might include speaking to the agents who provide customer service in the more traditional methods to understand the questions they are regularly asked, and then creating content to answer those challenges proactively. They can be a crucial part of making it easier for customers to help themselves, freeing up the time for agents to deal with more complex, individual queries.
Just as the breadth of customer queries, technologies and channels expand, so too do the opportunities for CSRs to develop specific skills and find the role that best suits them. These will only continue as teams grow and individual agents progress through their careers to become team leads, or even moving into project management or business development roles in management positions.
Customer service is becoming ever more important to businesses striving for differentiators in increasingly competitive marketplaces and taking full advantage of the spectrum of skills available among CSRs will ensure your company is future-proofed and ready to meet, and exceed, your customers’ expectations.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.