Does what a CSR says really matter?

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A couple of weeks ago we posited that the most important word in the CSR’s vocabulary is the word “can.”  It is a positive, action-oriented word that leaves many customers feeling like they are dealing with someone who not only knows what to do and how to do it, but also feels that it’s right to get it done.  In other words, the CSR feels some level of empathy for the customer and feels some obligation to ensure the customer is satisfied in the result.  But does what a CSR says really matter?

I would emphatically say “yes!”  Not only does it matter, the WAY it’s said sometimes matter more.  Generally, CSRs can be taught technical skills, product selling skills and application skills, but teaching a CSR empathy skills is much harder.  In fact, I would suggest that empathy is not a learned behavior – you either have it or you don’t.  False empathy is almost worse than no empathy at all.  How many times have you had a difficult interaction with a CSR, your problem doesn’t get solved, and the CSR ends the call with a cheery, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”  I’m often tempted to respond, “Well, you really didn’t help me at all.  Why should I give you another chance?”  A recent Multichannel Merchant article focused on empathy as a critical skill for all CSRs to have.  Read it here:


When interviewing new CSRs, do you probe for empathy?  How?  Virtual interviewing technologies are ideal for this in that you can create questions and scenarios that are specifically designed to test an applicant’s empathy relative to the types of calls you customarily handle.  Furthermore, virtual interviewing records applicant responses so they can be shared across the recruiting suite and with the applicant’s potential manager.  It makes it much easier to answer the question, “Is this an applicant who displays the right communication, language and empathy skills and will represent our brand well?”  If the answer is “no,” pass and move on to the next applicant.

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