6 Tips to Become a Better Customer Service Representative

by Tim Chesonis | Last Updated: August 4, 2021

How can one become a better Customer Service Representative? 

People can tell in an instant whether or not you really want to help them or not. Applying the following 6 tips will provide a better customer interaction, and ensure that mature as a Customer Service Representative.

The Customer is Not Your Adversary

How you view your Customer makes all the difference in the world.  Do you see them as a means to an end, (getting a paycheck), or do you actually care, looking to develop a relationship with the customer?

To drive this point home, let me compare “Burger King” with “Chick-Fil-A”.  I almost don’t need to say anything, as the comparison is as obvious as day and night.  The one fast-food restaurant clearly does not care about the customer.  Every time I hear them say, “Next”, to the customer in line ahead of me, it emphasizes just how much they really don’t care.  Their only concern is the money you give them.  How can I make that claim?  I can easily answer that question by asking these 3 questions:

  1. Which restaurant says, “Next!?” when you wait in line?
  2. While waiting in line, which restaurant employee greets you with a smile and says, “May I server the next guest?”
  3. Which restaurant asks for your first name when taking your order?

I actually love Burger King food, I just can’t stand their customer service.  It’s as though absolutely zero thought went into who is the face of their business.  When someone says, 

I’ll even seed that Chick-Fil-A charges more for their food.  But it’s worth it, and I can prove it.
In 2020 Burger King made 1.6 billion dollars.  Despite the Covid pandemic, Chick-Fil-A made 4.3 billion dollars last year.  On top of that, Burger King is open 7 days a week, which Chick-Fil-A is only open 6 days a week . . . everywhere.   How is it that Chick-Fil-A earns three times as much as Burger King when the food at Chick-Fil-A costs more?

Customer Service.  It’s all about how they make the customer feel.  Burger King makes me feel like I’m a product on an assembly line.  Chick-Fil-A makes me feel like a guest in their mother’s home.

Treat each customer as though they were a guest in your home.  Not only will they appreciate you for treating them with respect, but they will tell others of the experience they had as your “guest”.

Show Genuine Compassion

Compassion is THE essential ingredient to serving your customer.  Without compassion, you are no different than the sleepy non-attentive teenager who works at your local Burger King taking orders at the front counter.  

You can’t fake Compassion. The good news is that people can determine whether you actually care about them or not.  Usually, it only takes seconds. 

  • They can tell by the tone of your voice. 
  • They can tell if you are smiling when you speak on the phone. 
  • They can tell by the type of questions that you ask. 
  • They can easily tell if you sound rehearsed or mechanical in the questions you ask, and the speed at which those questions are asked. 

Take your time with the customer.  You may need to ask the same questions for each and every customer, and that’s OK, just be sure to ask that question differently to each customer. 

For example, you may need to ask a Customer’s name. You can do that by saying, “May I have your full name, please?”  Or, you might say, “In order to look up your order, may I have your first and last name, please?”  The point is that you don’t want to sound mechanical. You want to sound authentic, communicating that you really do care.  Caring about the customer communicates compassion. 

One final word regarding this tip. When you are dealing with elderly customers or customers that are computer illiterate, it will take an extra measure of grace and compassion. Yes, it will take longer to address their needs, however, your customer will appreciate the time you are investing in them, and there is a good chance that they will tell others of their experience with you because most people do not treat this type of customer with respect.

A Positive Attitude Goes a Long Way

Authenticity is so vitally important when serving a customer.  If you try to give what you yourself don’t possess, you will burn out quickly, and become that customer that no-one wants to deal with.  For example, if you stay up all night and only get 3 or 4 hours of sleep, you are not going to have the energy and patience required to serve your customers.  Instead, you will be very short tempered and may even become argumentative.

Additionally, if you hang out with people who are complaining and negative all the time, you too, will be negative.  On the flip-side, if you hand out with people who don’t complain, but are “go-getters”, people who are encouraging and look to be the solution to problems, you too, will find that you become that person.  You become what you think about. You become the person you hang out with.  

If you truly want to be someone who can be extraordinarily effective in helping people, you need to surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging.

Let me offer an example of what this looks like. Have you ever found yourself in the company of a man who is constantly making crude remarks about women, offering an inappropriate “joke” as often as he can? This person is simply revealing what they have been digesting. They are steeped in porn. What you hear from their mouth is the fruit of what they are feeding on. Similarly, if you feed on healthy relationships, investing your time in building relationships, you will naturally produce what you feed on.

Take Ownership of Your Customer’s Issue

If your objective is to pass the issue along to someone else because you don’t want to resolve the issue, you are in the wrong business.  Own their issue.  You will gain respect from your customer, colleagues, and employer.  You can make a LOT of money (I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars more than you currently are), by simply taking ownership of issues that are presented to you.  

This does not happen over-night, however, if you develop the practice of owning every problem that you encounter, in 5 years, you will be making more than any of your colleagues in the same field.  Why?  Because *most* people do not take ownership of an issue, and if they do, it’s because the issue has been assigned to them.  Instead of making excuses on why you can’t resolve the problem presented to you, find ways to resolve the problem. Follow up. Take ownership.

If you truly can’t resolve the problem, take it as far as you are able, and make the customer aware of all that you have done, communicating what you have done, and what steps you are taking to ensure that the issue will be resolved by the person that you assign the issue to.

Smile When Talking on the Phone

The simple practice of smiling when you speak on the phone will make a world of difference as you interact with your customer. The end user can tell when you are smiling, and it will set the tone of the conversation within 2 seconds. Smiling when answering the phone lets the customer know that you don’t hate your job, and that you are going to do all that you can to help them resolve their issue. This will naturally bring down their defenses, which will make the interaction more efficient and productive.

Laugh with the Customer

Laughter makes memories. When I speak to someone on the phone, I do my best to make them smile, and if possibly, even laugh. Of course, this does not happen all the time, and there are times when it is not appropriate. However, if you are dealing with customers all day long, you should be able to laugh with a few of them, and if you can’t, that probably has more to say about your attitude than it does about your customers.

That might be hard to hear, but it’s honest. Look for opportunities to bring a smile to your customer. You’ll be surprised at just how well your day goes when you are intentionally trying to spread joy to your customer base.

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.