The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 27, 2007 • Issue 07:08:02
Feed your reps, and they'll feed you
||The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.|
— Mohandas Gandhi
In the payments industry, customer service is paramount. The quality of your day-to-day interactions with clients can mean the difference between having a bevy of contented, loyal customers who provide residuals for years to come and a churning group of disgruntled merchants who bad-mouth you every chance they get.
To ensure client stickiness, learn the foundations of effective customer service, and put them into practice.
- Be available and respond quickly to problems that arise.
- Listen with sincere interest and provide appropriate solutions.
- Master your chosen niche markets so you understand your mechants' issues.
- Take immediate action when a client is in crisis. (Rush in with replacement terminals when equipment fails during a grand opening, for instance.)
- Teach clients how to make the most of their value-added services.
- Help merchants reduce costs and become more efficient.
- Advocate on behalf of merchants with processors and other service providers.
But unless you're a superhero, you can't maintain superior performance levels by yourself, especially if you're growing a business to sustain you now and through retirement.
If you try to go it alone, Murphy's Law will inevitably come into play, as it always does. And when that happens, you'll be stretched too thin to take care of problems before they frustrate merchants beyond the breaking point.
You'll burn out eventually and possibly even leave the industry with shoulders slumped in discouragement.
Many routes to rewarding results
So, how do you keep a smile on your retailers' faces and a spring in your step?
Hire the best help available, prepare them well and keep them motivated. It sounds simple enough. But once you've hired the right customer service reps and trained them, how, exactly, do you keep your crew inspired?
After all, it's not their business; it's yours. How can you expect them to care as much about your company as you do? Here are some tips:
- Create a positive work environment in which all people are well-paid for their contributions, encouraged to take on new responsibilities and treated with respect, even when they fail.
- Get to know your employees. Ideally, your office will be multigenerational and multicultural. Workers' worldviews will be diverse, and likely different from yours. Familiarize yourself with the events and circumstances that shaped the directions of your team members' lives.
- Realize that each person has unique talents and needs, and provide individuals opportunities tailored to their abilities and circumstances.
One person might greatly improve work performance when given a flexible schedule that allows time for afternoon parent/teacher meetings and children's sporting events. Another may be a whiz at explaining statistics and be able (and very willing) to contribute immensely to your company's research and analysis efforts. Another might have the right combination of authority, congeniality and enthusiasm to become an ideal supervisor.
- In addition to using external motivators, such as awards presented at special ceremonies, monetary bonuses, friendly competitions and so forth, ascertain individuals' goals and values and try to build on them.
Appreciating your employees' passions is likely to energize their efforts not only on behalf of their individual causes, but also in the workplace.
Put these tips into practice, and then rest assured that your frontline customer service team will be inspired to provide your clients the very best treatment 24/7/365.
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