Does CSR stand for Customer Service Rep or consistently slow response time?

It has been an EXHAUSTING week at work, not because of the volume of business but because of the daily, snowballing frustration I have had with customer services reps’ unfulfilled promises and never-returned “return” phone calls.  Can it really be all that hard?

ImageI get it – no one wants to deliver bad, or even disappointing news, but delivering no news is even worse.  And while I understand that I am probably not the ONLY person with an issue or problem to solve, well, of course I feel I should be treated that way!  I formerly worked for a very large – global, in fact – corporation that is essentially a family-owned business doing probably hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business a year.  Do you know the very first thing we were taught as part of our corporate training?

“Under-promise and over-deliver.”

I acknowledge that the world is different place now than it was ten or twenty years ago, in many ways better, but in some ways much worse.  That said, I still believe that there are a few universal, elementary business practices that take little time and cost virtually nothing:

  • Smile BEFORE you answer a phone call.  I never really believed this but people CAN hear a smile in your voice.  Listen – you’ll hear it, too.
  • Be as sincere as possible and express empathy, NOT sympathy.  I don’t really care that you are sorry that my whatever is back-ordered for yet another six weeks but when you say that you can understand my frustration, I am putty in your hands…
  • Say “please” and “thank you.”  And throw in a “Sir” or “Ma’am” every now and then.  It makes you appear polished and educated.  Maybe even British!


I am sure that all my “issues” will work out in time but it is daunting to try so hard to not only do my job but another person’s, too.  (Insert long, slow exhale here…)  The good news?

I have the next three days off.  YEAH!!!  Oh, and before I go, I better not forget to turn on my “Out of Office” voice mail message – no one likes to be left hanging…

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