Are you asking the right questions?


Trust and respect are usually key experience sought in every human interaction. More so in case of customer service.

Every Company starts out to solve a customer issue with the best intentions. Unfortunately, success, growth and stakeholder’s interest (read business analyst’s strategic initiatives) change the culture as they mature and so the customers interest goes for a big toss as it gets institutionalized by a large department aka Customer service.

(Therefore, B2C has overtaken the go to market models and will be critical to success for emerging companies. But more about it my next update about digital disruption in retail)

And as companies grow into a self-absorbed mode, they tend to focus more on their needs as opposed to the customer’s needs. The simple act of calling a company for help with their product can be fraught with frustration because the company has set up systems that are non-friendly to consumers. To begin with there is quite frustrating and often irritating self-serve automated system which one has pass thru. They would hope a helpful sympathetic listener will serve the purpose but no there are idiots of customer service reps who escalate a comfortable and just curious caller into an irate or impatient one.

When they actually require a rep to act towards a quick identification of the problem and solution it gets into a long costly call (for the service provider/BPO). Listed below are some classic questions asked by the ebullient customer service representative after narrating the scripted welcome and acknowledgment of the reason for your call.

Customer : I have a question about my Bill?

CSR : What is that which different than every month ?

Interpretation : You are probably dumb or do not know what services you pay for.

Customer : I have set up an Auto Pay but it seems they charged me twice last month.

CSR : Let me ask you this , did you verify this information in your bank statement?

Interpretation : Probably you are duffer at managing your finances and don’t understand.

Customer : I have not received my last statement or bill.

CSR : Can I verify the address on account and have you recently moved?

Interpretation: You are not a organized person and didn’t bother to inform us.

Matthew Dixon, Lara Ponomareff, Scott Turner & Rick DeLisiv in their recent article in HBR “Kick-ass Customer Service” list 7 distinct type of customer service reps. According to the article while empathizers are the most preferred type of agents by the hiring managers and customers it is the   controller who is outspoken and opinionated actually do best at solving customers’ problems.


If companies don’t hire the right people as front-line reps, or equip them to handle the increasingly complex challenges that come with the job their ratings will slide southwards and long term consequences could be a loss of bid for future contract.

Companies should also revamp their training practices, using new curricula and on-the-job coaching to help all types of reps learn to act more like Controllers. Another key step is building a culture that values and rewards Controller behavior. That might mean evaluating reps on their ability to use good judgment rather than follow a script, and soliciting their ideas to improve the organization.


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