5 Lessons from the Leaders of 3 Million Customer Service Representatives

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Almost three million people identify their job as being in customer service, arguably one of the most challenging and ever-evolving roles within any business today. That makes the leadership roles in customer service and customer experience even more critically inspiring.

Looking at the changes to the business environment over the past 10 years and the impact that change has had on customer service, these leaders are nothing short of amazing in their abilities to create, challenge and adapt.

Let’s celebrate Customer Service Week by diving into the five lessons that we can take away from customer service leaders:

1. People in service roles respond to servant-based leadership

The combination of these two quotes from Dr. Ken Blanchard define what customer service (or servant-based leadership) is:

  • “[Be] clear on what business you’re in, what you’re trying to accomplish, your values, your goals.” Leadership.
  • “You work for your people, who eventually work for your customers.” Servant. 

2. Solid business acumen is often just finding the right balance

Customer service leaders know that quality and speed are often trade-offs that tie directly to the kind of company you want to be. This is the ultimate juggling act of efficiency and effectiveness.

Focus too much on efficiency metrics and your customer experience metrics suffer. Vice versa, and your costs go up. So who do you really want to be and what does your brand really stand for? Fast, reliable service or hands-on, high-touch service?

3. How to be fair, yet let each individual shine

Leaders who manage large teams know that treating employees equally is a must. But the real power comes in also making everyone feel heard, special and valued for who they are. That balance is not easy. Powerful customer service leaders know that one-on-one time coupled with individual recognition and coaching is essential for employee engagement.

4. A leader’s role as a teacher, problem-solver and role model

Employees tend to hand leaders their biggest challenges with no warning, giving the leader very little time to prepare a solution. The most successful customer service leaders are built for speed and teamwork. How do they do it? Solid training, processes and aligned teams combined with quick decision-making skills.

5. Motivate by facilitating fun in the workplace

Leaders have to ask their customer service teams to respond quickly and accurately in urgent situations. With this pressure and stress, it’s important to fill the “fun tank” in advance. (See also number two above on finding balance.) Leaders of strong customer service teams know how to motivate employees to work hard, but also celebrate the big wins.

In order for a customer service leader to effectively manage change, he or she must focus on the customer, have a clear understanding of the mission, vision and values of the business, and be able to translate all of that into an effective employee engagement strategy. No one does this better than the successful leaders of the very essential, highly impactful teams that engage directly with those who pay us…our customers.

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