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Some people just aren’t cut out for customer service. It’s the truth. Different individuals doing different jobs that require different skills is what makes the world go round. The server couldn’t do what the chef does; and nor could the chef fill in for the server. Just like any other skilled profession, customer service requires specific training and intangible skills to provide your customers with the best experience possible.
And the role of customer service representative requires specific abilities which may not be considered vital to other positions companies might offer. As a customer service rep, you have to have:
- Personability. You should be able to meet customers where they’re at, and be willing to help all of your callers have a good experience.
- Research skills. If you don’t have the answer off the top of your head, you need to be able to find possible solutions, quickly and efficiently.
- Problem solving skills. You need to have the mental agility to guide your customers though the strangest of inquiries and issues.
- Communication skills. You should be able to speak plainly and articulately with your customers, listen well and intently, and do so with empathy and compassion.
The combination of these abilities makes for a stellar customer service agent. On any given day, during any given call, you will find yourself utilizing all of these skills over and over and over again. So being in a client-facing role can be a lot of fun for people-people who love solving puzzles and making customers smile. And customer service can also be kind of scary when you find yourself toe-to-toe with an angry caller. But those moments are the proving ground of amazing customer service agents when you get to pull out all the stops and let your compassionate communications skills shine.
What does Client Facing Mean?
Anyone who works in a role wherein they have regular, “face-to-face” contact with customers is a client-facing professional. Front-of-house restaurant workers, sales-floor retail workers, grocery store cashiers, fast food drive-through window operators, airline hosts, bus drivers, etc., etc., are all client-facing roles.
We put “face to face” in quotations, however, because not all client-facing roles literally face the customers. These jobs can have you interacting with clients on a virtual basis, over the phone, or at a distance, and they still fit within the parameters of a customer-facing job.
Why are Client Facing Roles So Important?
Well, the people who hold client-facing roles are quite literally the face of the company. Whether or not clients can see your physical face, you are the initial representation of the business, its philosophy, and its identity.
Customer service workers are the first point of contact for a company’s clientele. Many customers will make their first impression of the brand as a whole based on their interaction with you. This means that there’s a lot riding on your ability to interact kindly and compassionately with a customer. Whether or not your behaviour accurately represents the brand you work for, a client might decide whether or not they want to spend their money with your company based on their impression of you.
Customer service workers are the “brand ambassadors.” While the marketing team members are the true originators of a brand’s persona, it’s you and your colleagues in customer facing roles who deliver that persona to the customer. This is why so many hiring processes involve rigorous personality tests. Companies want to know that customer service reps will do justice to the image they’re trying to put out into the world. Customer satisfaction is priority number one for customer service reps. And priority two should be brand representation.
And customer service workers are the ones that keep the clients coming back for more. Without the unique and personalized experience offered by passionate, enthusiastic customer service representatives, brands might fail to stand out from other brands. How often have you heard people lauding the “AMAZING customer service” of their favorite stores? Great products are good, but excellent customer service is truly what makes any company great.
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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Client Facing Roles
Here are a few examples of good, not-so good, and really, really not-good customer interactions. (We love an excuse to reference or favorite westerns, but we’re gonna reverse the order in this section so the article can end on a high note.)
A customer of a big-name retailer was shopping with his son in July of 2014. He found an item which he noted with surprise was 35% higher in price than the same item listed on their website. At check out, the customer pointed out the pricing error and asked for the better price on his item. The clerk, bluntly reciting store policy, refused his request, despite the obvious mistake.
The customer decided to take matters into his own hands, and ordered the item online for in-store pickup, and at the fairer price. As he waited, he watched an employee retrieve the item he had attempted to purchase moments before and take it back to the holding area for pickup. To make matters worse, because the confirmation email wasn’t sent until the next day, the customer had to return 24 hours later to finally pick up his item.
This story isn’t just an example of bad customer service. It’s an embarrassing cautionary tale in which the customer catches the service worker red-handed in an hypocritical act of policy-over-personalization. It is a desirable trait in customer service representatives to admit their mistakes, and sometimes even bend the rules to make a customer happy.
…And by bad we mean really bad. We had a hard time even understanding what was going on in this live chat conversation between a service agent and her customer:
Where do we begin? At the top of the page, well into the conversation it seems, Farah uses unprofessional language and punctuation to tell the customer that she’s “not going to change (the customer’s) password,” with no explanation or alternative solution offered. She continues to use blunt, unfriendly language throughout the conversation, and does little to empathize with or reassure her customer.
We can tell from the ensuing interaction that there has been a misunderstanding somewhere along the line. The customer can also plainly see that Farah doesn’t understand what the customer is asking, and ends up providing the client with confusing instructions that have nothing to do with their original request. To leave things on an especially sour note, the customer’s issue is never resolved, and Farah seems to disappear into the ether.
Clearly, Farah could use some additional training to help her customer service. Or, dare we say, a career change? We doubt this customer ever did business with this company again.
A United Kingdom grocery chain takes customer feedback seriously – even when it’s coming from their youngest clients. A 3 ½ year old Lily wrote the grocery chain to make an inquiry about a product they carry called “Tiger Bread.” Lily’s letter asked why they called it that, if the spots on its characteristic crust looked more like the spots a giraffe. 27 ⅓ year old Chris, a customer experience manager for the brand, wrote Lily back to thank her for her feedback, and included a gift card with his note to thank her for being such a good customer. The store even renamed the product in question “Giraffe Bread” after careful consideration of the customer’s feedback.
This gesture on the part of one excellent customer service rep demonstrates this brand’s commitment to listening to it’s customers. Client satisfaction should be a top priority for all businesses, even when those clients are 3.
How Gladly Can Help Your Business Win with Client Facing Roles
Gladly is a customer service platform for digitally-focused B2C companies who want to maximize the lifetime value of their customers. Unlike the legacy approach to customer service software, which is designed around a ticket or case to enable workflows, Gladly enables radically personal customer service centered around people to sustain customer loyalty and drive more revenue.
The world’s most innovative consumer companies like Godiva, JOANN, and TUMI use Gladly to create lasting customer relationships, not one-off experiences.