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Three Much-Needed Traits of an Effective Customer Service Rep

by Penny Fiederlein  |  
March 20, 2013

As a customer service representative at MarketingProfs, I'm fortunate that many phone calls I receive are regarding learning more about MarketingProfs and accessing materials. But now and then, I do get a call from someone who is frustrated for whatever reason and speaking harshly. Those are the days when I think that, yes, you definitely must have certain traits to be an effective and caring customer service representation.

Here's a quick look at three traits that a customer service reps needs... and to keep in mind when hiring a customer service rep.

1. Empathy

An effective customer service rep needs to be able to put herself in the client's shoes.

I've gotten my share of grumpy people calling. Just the other day, one lady called, and she kept asking all sorts of vague questions. But I just thought, "By the time we get out of this, we're going to be best buddies."

A lot is going on in people's lives---so you can't take their frustrations and complaints, or even their harsh tone, personally. You don't know how their personal life may have affected their day and ended up in a grumpy person calling you.

I just have to take a deep breath and remind myself that they are calling about something bothering them. I step back and think about how I can help them the best way I can. I want the phone call to be a positive experience for them.

2. Belief in your company and product

Membership at MarketingProfs is optional. You don't have to be a member. So, we really value that fact that people do become our subscribers.

We know that people's time is valuable, and we need to form a relationship at every turn. We want folks to come back to us. Our callers are real people, and so are we. That's one reason we don't have a routine script to follow at MarketingProfs. (You know the ones that some companies have. "Hi. May I help you? Let me get this information. Allow me to direct you to so-and-so.")

I really love working at MarketingProfs, and I want that love to show in the service I provide. So, when I'm off the phone with someone, I want them to have felt my hug. We're not robots, and neither are our subscribers.

3. Patience

Sometimes, people get frustrated about something but can't articulate it. It can even be something as simple as not knowing how to find something on the site. So, I have to pull out my Sherlock Holmes hat, find out what they need, and think about how I can make them happy.

Though you do have to have a certain personality type, you also have to work on what you have. You may be a patient person in general, but you have to work on developing even greater patience. That usually takes experience and time.

So, what would you add to the list of must-have traits for a customer service rep? Chime in on the comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Penny Fiederlein is a customer service representative at MarketingProfs.

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  • by Rob Larkin Wed Mar 20, 2013 via blog

    I've found over the years that being able to convert any concept into a common analogy has always been valuable.

    For example, explaining computer hardware components in terms to which anyone can relate. The hard drive is your filing cabinet; the bigger it is, the more things you can store. RAM (memory) is the size of your desk surface; the larger your desk, the more things you can work on at the same time without going back to the filing cabinet.

    I usually leave the CPU (processor) out of the analogy, as it would require me telling them they could get more work done if they had a more powerful brain :-)

  • by Penny Wed Mar 20, 2013 via blog

    Excellent point, either when responding in writing or via the phone using common terms is so important! Thanks for the addition. Anyone else have a trait to add?

  • by Shelley Ryan Wed Mar 20, 2013 via blog

    I would add...

    In-depth knowledge of your product. Which I know YOU have in spades, Penny!

    Empowerment to solve just about ANY problem thrown at you. None of the "let me check with my supervisor" bullshit.

    Likability. It's hard for any caller to stay mad at your company when he's talking to someone who ends up feeling like an actual friend!

  • by Penny Wed Mar 20, 2013 via blog


    Agree knowledge is key and the more your Customer Service rep knows about your products the better! Train, and inform your Customer Service Team folks!

    We have all had that wonderful customer service experience (being snarky here ) with a clueless, powerless, or rude Customer Service rep and you know you walked away, or hung up thinking you wish you had those 20 minutes back in your life and never went back..

    Thanks for joining in Shelley!

  • by Bomi Sat Mar 23, 2013 via blog

    Dear Shelley,
    You are right when a customer service exec says that “let me check with my supervisor” , he/she is actually telling the customer that "I do not know". This is bad. The customer is put off. However, if he/she can say "Let me put you on to the right person who can answer all your queries." then the customer feels good that you are actually trying to help and living up to the title of a Customer Service Exec.

  • by Rennie Smith Tue Jul 2, 2013 via blog

    We are dealing in remote technical service/ remote IT support, what my experience tells that you have calmly listen to the problems that the customer is facing. The more faster the issue gets resolved, the more the customer is happy. A friendly and fast approach enables the customer to comeback to you again.

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