Last Sunday, I was at a bookstore with my kids. Yes – I still visit bookstores inspite of Amazon & Flipkart. After a long debate on books and the prices, we finally zeroed on two books for my daughters. I stood in a queue and swiped my card. Till now – it was like any other Sunday. But here’s what made this Sunday stand out in my mind. The cashier was supposed to swipe my debit card for Rs.1098, but – here’s the twist – since I guess she was nearing the end of her duty hours – she happily swiped my card for Rs.1,09,800/-

And then followed a frenzy of activities – calls to and from the bank, multiple trials on the IVR of the bank, my anger at the cashier and at last – the manager of the book store. He was profusely apologetic. I was too upset to hear apologies. After about 30 minutes of debate and temper – I withdrew sulking.

Later – when I thought of the incident and read this beautiful HBR study – here’s my take.

Customers look forward most to customer service – when things go wrong. However, in an attempt to provide seamless self-service & to obviously reduce cost, organisations have moved to self-service platforms. Hence, invariably the customers who are landing up for a live service interaction are usually the most frustrated lot. What’s more – putting unprepared staff on phone or in person with an irate customer can be the most expensive mistake for an organisation – it not only damages the brand but can also lead to a spiralling down of erstwhile loyal customers.

So, what sort of people are best equipped to handle today’s customers?

When we run customer service training programs – the most often repeated behaviours by managers are – “customer service oriented”, “high on empathy”, “good listening skills”, “helping out”, “patience & tolerance” etc.

However, going back to the incident – I mentioned – the cashier, the store manager and the bank customer service rep – were all apologising, listening to me well, showing incredible amount of patience and tolerance – so why was I still sulking after 30 minutes.

Here’s why – A team at CEB customer experience centre – ran a study – this is what they found out:

Representatives who solve customer’s problems are the ones who scored highest on customer satisfaction levels – So who are these guys – they are called controllers – primarily because – they are the ones who are driven to deliver fast solutions, who take charge, who follow a plan rather going with the flow, who are confident decision makers. They like demonstrating expertise and directing the customer interaction. And they are the ones who deliver high on customer satisfaction.

They also found our 6 more profiles of customer service reps – including the rock (unflappable), accommodator (meeting people halfway), empathiser (seeking to understand), hard worker (following rules), innovator (coming up with new ways) and the competitor (outperforming peers)

They also found out that most managers tend to hire empathisers –as they believe – they are the best.

If perhaps, I had interacted with a “solution oriented” customer rep that Sunday, I would still be loyal to the book store and the bank.

Here’s where we come in – we can help you in identifying what are the behaviours of your team which are impacting your current QA numbers. We can also help you structure and run a process for building a great customer experience team.

At Able Ventures, we are passionate about assessing and building successful teams. Write to me –