Why Customer Service Agents Are True Heros Of Your Company
Meet Indira -- a superhero dressed in customer service agent clothes.
Indira gets to the office by 3:30 pm logs into the CRM. She reads through her active customer interactions. If anything is off -- like if an action was meant to take place but didn’t -- she informs her supervisors, checks with her tech team, and calls the client before they complain.
Next, she moves on to her emails. Indira works for a medical insurance company, so she takes this opportunity to follow up with any important paperwork. All this, she does in just 30 minutes. At 4 pm, Indira begins taking calls.
A button on her phone blinks red. It’s her first call of the day. Indira introduces herself into her headset with a smile. The receiver is not as friendly. “I’m in rural China and I’ve broken my knee,” he shouts into the phone abruptly. “What do I do?”
“Sir, everything is going to be just fine,” Indira reassures her customer. “Please would you hold the line for one minute while I run the triage so I can work out where would be best for you to go for medical treatment?”
Indira puts the phone down and sets a timer for one minute. While the client is on hold, she calls a provider in the area. If there isn’t one, she Googles and negotiates with them so that the insurance company can pay on their client’s behalf. She provides them with all relevant information, emails a record release form, payment authorisations, and updates the system with any new information. Just seconds before her timer goes off, she clicks back on to the call. The client has hung up.
Indira takes a deep breath and smiles once again, ready to take on the next caller.
“Typical” customer service agent superpowers
By the end of her workday at midnight (with just two 30-minute breaks), Indira has flexed each and every one of her customer service superpowers. Let’s take a closer look.
- Impenetrable skin like Superman
- Hyperawareness or Spideysense
- Adaptability like Captain Marvel
- Secret identity like Bruce Wayne
- Excellent teamwork like the Avengers
- Lightning speed task completion like the Flash
- Quick thinking like Quicksilver
- Super tools like the Batmobile
- Chameleon-Esque like Mystique
- Masterful memory like Captain America
- Extreme patience like Professor X
On an average day, Indira is yelled at, screamed at, hung up on, and sworn at. She knows she can’t take it personally. Indeed, if she did, she wouldn’t last more than a day in this role.
One of the more difficult parts of working for a health insurance company is that Indira often has to break the news to clients that the company cannot cover a medical bill. The clients are understandably distressed by this news -- particularly when they’re facing a huge ER bill. So, she calls on her impenetrable skin to protect her from the blows.
Indira knows to keep her Spideysense heightened throughout her workday -- particularly when she’s wearing her sales hat. She understands the importance of being aware of the client’s voice and surroundings in order to have an effective interaction. “You can’t actually sell to someone who’s holding a crying baby, for example,” she explains.
If that weren’t enough, Indira also has to stay hyperaware for the frequent comments on calls from her supervisors. Oftentimes, they talk right over the client and/or Indira, and she is expected to hear and understand herself, the client, and her supervisor, all at the same time.
Call centres are dynamic environments. Supervisors implement new protocols and system updates every week in order to improve performance. These updates require customer service heroes to adapt fast and learn quickly.
It isn’t unheard of, for example, for the insurance company to release a new product, and expect Indira and its other customer service superheroes to learn the Terms and Conditions of the product in just two days.
Like any superhero, Indira knows that she needs to maintain her secret identity, and separate her personal life from her job. This is, unfortunately, her weakest superpower. Taking care of serious, complex situations as she does, it’s not unheard of for Indira to spend her nights staring at the ceiling, losing sleep over her clients’ various situations, stressing over whether they’d be resolved.
Even when off duty, clients call her after hours on her personal phone, and she often spends time answering work email on weekends too.
Every superhero knows that they’re stronger with friends. In a similar fashion to the Avengers or the Power Rangers, Indira understands that she needs to lean on her teammates, and them her.
“When working on a call center, there’s always something to do: if you have nothing to do, then you have to help your team,” she says.
Indira remembers a time when she was working next to a new colleague and overheard the interaction. Wanting to help, Indira asked her about it afterwards.
The client desperately wanted to take her child to the ER, and her colleague had mistakenly denied the case to be enough of an emergency to be covered. Indira ran the triage herself and discovered that the child did, indeed, qualify for ER support from the company.
“This is teamwork,” she recalls, “and it was for everyone’s benefit: my colleague learned something, she didn’t mess up her report, and the client actually got what he needed and never complained.
Time is priceless in a call centre. The time Indira spends completing tasks is closely monitored, and incentive programs encourage her to keep the time she spends on calls to a minimum.
Besides, there’s always so much to do! Working for an insurance company, working fast also equates to precious time for the clients, who are often in time-sensitive situations.
Indira has to not only be fast on her feet but sharp as a tack too. Quick thinking powers are essential for customer service superheroes.
“Sometimes the clients have real emergencies,” she explains, “and they don’t realise they can deal with the insurance later, so they call us asking what to do. In such situations, where time is important for the client’s wellbeing, we didn’t have the time to ask questions for the CMR: so we had to blindly decide if it was an emergency and where to send them (wherever in the world they were).”
Of course, no superhero is complete without super tools. Thor has his hammer. Captain America has his shield. Indira has access to the insurance company’s internally developed, incredibly powerful software. It includes a triage section, a CRM, and a map indicating associated facilities around the world.
The software is so complex that it requires a full month of technical and even medical training before an agent is able to use it independently.
Another superpower required by customer service superheroes is the ability to quickly and seamlessly change hats.
“I’ve done it all!” exclaims Indira. “My supervisor is gone and a client needs to talk to a supervisor? Do we need to create email templates? Do we need to sign up for new associated practices? Do we need to buy chocolates for a new important client? The list is endless.”
She had to learn to fix everyday hardware problems herself since her IT team was always overworked. She also regularly flexes her cost analysis, medical translations, and negotiation superpowers, which she picked up on the job.
Did we mention she also speaks four languages -- a superpower that allows her to skip the translator tool and save time when communicating in multiple languages?
As a customer service superhero, Indira is expected to be able to recall an entire interaction with just a few -- or sometimes no -- prompts.
“Sometimes a client complains about the interaction and will say we said certain things. The protocol indicates that you can give your version of the story, and your supervisor listens to the call. If your statement doesn’t match the audio recording, you could get suspended.”
In addition to all the superpowers listed above, Indira’s most useful and well-honed superpower has to be extreme patience.
Clients often demand she repeats herself over and over again -- and they don’t ask politely, either. Indira had to learn to take deep breaths and respond to even the most difficult of customers with understanding, reassurance, and a smile.
We at ultimate.ai work closely with customer service teams and are in absolute awe of the incredible skills exemplified by customer service superheroes on a daily basis.
From hyperawareness to extreme patience, to teamwork and adaptability, there is little these customer saviours and warriors cannot do, or learn to do. They know that with great power comes great responsibility.
Keep it up, superheroes. Your customers and supervisors appreciate your total dedication.
Indira Wislocki: Virtual assistant and customer service expert, she travels the world full time with her little son while working with nonprofits and businesses that help women and minorities.
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