Great Customer Service Pros Come From All Different Places

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At our office we have been talking quite a bit about the unique abilities and strengths of our customer service team using StrengthsFinder. In a recent discussion, the thought hit me that not only do different people possess different blends of strengths but they also come from a wide variety of places.

I decided to poll our team to find out what “customer service” jobs they had before working at Phone.com. Remember that I define customer service somewhat loosely because everyone has customers. Here’s the list of past jobs and what it taught them about customer service:

Jenny worked as a barista at Starbucks– That job taught her the importance of giving a smile, personalization with customers and having passion behind your day to day tasks.

Tony worked in sales for an ecommerce company- He took many escalated calls from people who were angry about a broken item they received and gained a ton of experience in dealing with difficult customers in the process.

Carmen was an office manager at a Xerox service center- She worked with many customers who perhaps didn’t receive a part they needed on time. This taught her the value of creativity and a friendly attitude in all circumstances.

Derrick worked at a bank- He worked primarily with senior citizens and especially learned the value of patience. As he developed this discipline he found that this exercise led to quite a bit of personal growth.

Monica was a nanny- Her customers were both the children and the parents. In this role she learned the value of predicting needs proactively and addressing them quickly.

Paul was a tutor- In working with his students, he learned the importance of recognizing their uniqueness and tailoring an approach where they could most effectively learn.

Darren was a dance instructor- Working with all ages, he learned how to communicate concisely and efficiently with his customers in a face to face setting. He also learned the ability to be patient and keep their attention.

Jon worked front desk at a hotel- Oftentimes working by himself, he learned to stay calm in all different situations. This required him to be flexible, creative and wear many hats.

Erica worked the front desk at the school library- She learned to multi-task, be patient, efficient, and effective at listening to determine the patrons’ concerns. She was often the only person scheduled to work the desk.

Dorian did outbound cold calling- The exercise of calling so many people that didn’t want to talk to him taught him to keep his cool in almost any situation.

Seeing this compiled into one list is better than anything I could have hoped for when I first asked the question. Here’s what I learn when I read this:

  • People aren’t meant to be put into boxes. The myriad of perspectives and backgrounds represented should enrich our customer service culture.
  • The experience they learned in their past service job aligns with and even sheds additional light on their unique strengths and abilities.
  • Valuable customer service experience can be gained in almost any profession.
  • The diversity here presents an amazing opportunity where we can learn from each other. Collaboration is key.

Is there anything you would add to my list? If you haven’t done so yet, try this exercise with your team and dare to understand what makes each one of them unique and special. Your customers will thank you for it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.

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