What's Your Inspiration to Care For Customers?



Kate Nasser
07/02/2010

Customer care, the true sense of wanting to help customers, is a subject that has intrigued me for many years. Why do I feel so much inspiration to care for customers?

You might immediately think personality type. Maybe some types are more innately inspired to care for customers. Yet I have seen many different personality types working quite well in customer care.

Maturity?

I have always felt the inspiration to care even as a teenager with summer jobs. Money? Well, summer jobs didn’t pay much. In fact, read the myriad of blog articles that claim CSRs are de-motivated because they don’t get paid enough to care. (I don’t agree with that one.)

Well I have spent much of my professional life inspiring customer service and tech support customer service reps to care for customers. Leader after leader has asked me the same question, "How can we motivate our reps to deliver better customer care?" One day it hit me that the obstacle the leader faced was not the reps—it was the concept of motivation.

Motivation

The concept of motivation conjures up images of offering comp days if reps consistently reach their metrics or scheduling a pizza party if they clear the backlog in the e-mail queue. There is nothing inherently wrong with offering these to accomplish a short term goal. It will not, however, create consistently high quality customer care. The effect of the motivator wears off the same way an advertisement loses its marketing/sales effectiveness over time. It no longer motivates.

Inspiration

On the other hand, inspiration is something deep inside your reps and consistently there. The actual feeling varies in each person. Here is a short list of inspiration points I have tapped in thousands of reps over the years. You will notice a common thread. Inspiration is integral to what makes the individual rep naturally feel good. What would you add to this list?

Making a difference in the customer’s life that day. To do that, the reps need to be empowered to actually help. Reading from scripts and having to pass all exceptions to a supervisor is not inspirational.

Seeing how their work contributes to the company and the customer’s success. A director of customer services recently told me that their initial attempt at training reps included a product manager delivering a Powerpoint presentation on the products. She was in the back of the room and saw the reps disengaging, looking around, swiveling their chairs. She decided to redo the customer service reps training program and had them actually touching the products, installing them, and so forth. The results were amazing. In fact, the results were inspired!

Living what it feels like to be a customer.

Enjoyment and fun.
There are people who begin to care about others when they feel good themselves. It doesn’t have to be constant fun—life rarely is. Yet if there is no fun, these reps will not be inspired to give more.

Respect for their individual talents. Perhaps one of the most common inspiration points is people being known and respected for their individual talents—at least in our American culture. In eastern philosophies/cultures, this is not necessarily the case.

Adapted from an article first publsihed on KateNasser.com