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3 Traits of a Great Customer Service Representative

Your brand may have the best products, the best pricing and the most data, but if you aren’t engaging and empowering your people, you’re still operating at a competitive loss. 

According to the most recent Gallup State of the American Workplace report, “when organizations successfully engage both their employees and their customers they experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes compared to an organization with neither engaged employees, nor engaged customers.” Gallup notes that the moment an engaged employee connects emotionally with a customer, “it’s a source of untapped power that has profound implications for a company’s productivity and profitability.”

70% of American workers say they’re either “not engaged” or are “actively disengaged” at work.

But unfortunately, according to the same report, 70% of American workers say they’re either “not engaged” or are “actively disengaged” at work, and the cost is extremely high. Median differences between brands in the top quarter of employee engagement versus the bottom quarter showed a:

  • 10% difference in customer satisfaction ratings
  • 21% difference in productivity
  • and 22% difference in organization profitability.

On a similar, many employees are not empowered to engage customers:

  • 40% of employees say they cannot find the information to do their jobs.
  • 44% of contact center agents say they need to access three or more applications to resolve a customer interaction.
  • 51% of contact centers feel they are behind the pack for self-service information.
  • And 31% of Gen Y workers believe their technology at home is better than their technology at work.

Engage Your Employees to Engage the Customer

When employees make contact with your customers or potential ones, says Gallup, they should give meaning and dimension to your company’s brand promise. And whether it’s IT, billing, marketing, sales or support, all employees should view themselves as customer service representatives. They should know the company’s brand promise, how it relates to the customer experience, and be empowered to deliver on it at every turn. 

Bruce Temkin, Managing Partner of the Temkin Group and Co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, notes that there are three key components of the customer experience:

  1. Success: the degree to which customers are able to accomplish their goals
  2. Effort: the difficulty or ease the customer experiences in accomplishing their goals
  3. Emotion: how the interaction makes the customers feel.

3 Traits of a Great Customer Service Representative

In relation to the above, there are three traits that make for a great customer service representative:

  1. Productivity. Customer service representatives who have the ability to save customers time and deliver on first contact resolution are heroes for both their organizations and the customer. This trait is powered by having both the right tools and also the knowledge at hand to give customers the answers they need, no matter which channel the customer is using. Productive CSRs efficiently and effectively assist customers in accomplishing their goals, enabling a successful experience.
  2. Proactivity. Great customer service representatives proactively reduce a customer’s effort. Examples would be a live chat invitation to help with a perceived issue, or reaching out to inform customers about a known issue even before the customer is aware and offering the means or timeline for resolution. CSRs who are empowered to promote ease of experience reduce customer effort and, in turn, increase satisfaction.
  3. Personalization. Great customer service representatives are empowered with customer data, feedback and support histories to better connect with individual customers – not just on questions and issues – but many times on an emotional level, as well. Small details such as recognizing names, birthdays, recent purchases and longstanding loyalty, for example, help engage the customer. Great customer service representatives are also empowered with sentiment analysis or mindful listening skills to deliver empathy and make each customer feel more valued, delivering on the emotion component of the customer experience.

Facilitating Greatness
While some great customer service representatives were born for the job, many more great customer service representatives can be made through increased empowerment. Is it worth the internal investment? Absolutely.  Forrester Research notes that just a 10% improvement in an enterprise company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in increased revenue.

Facilitate greatness and increased employee and customer engagement. Customers are more empowered than ever. Your customer service representatives should be, too. 

Watch Now: Webinar Builds the Case for a 2015
Investment in Customer Service Knowledge 


In a pre-recorded webinar, ThinkJar Founder and Principal Esteban Kolsky details the importance and benefits of knowledge management for customer service.

Notes Kolsky in a new white paper, “not having access to the right information is the most critical time-waste of preparing any answer for a customer. If the information is not available quickly, it is nearly impossible to deliver against expectations.”

Senior Director Bill Patterson of Parature explores the critical role of knowledge in self-service and consistent engagement across channels including email, chat, the web, mobile and social, and how to empower both employees and customers. Global Customer Care Manager Eric McKirdy joins the conversation to share the brand’s incredible knowledge management for customer service success, along with proven best practices that have helped make McKirdy a customer service thought leader.

Don’t miss out on finding out if your brand’s a leader or a laggard in KM for customer service and what you can do to quickly improve your success. Click below to view the webinar at your convenience.