I have been teaching a lot of customer service and client-relationship management workshops lately. In many of them we heard from a host of novice leaders about the importance of things like “strict adherence to standardized scripting for customer-facing professionals to ensure a consistent customer experience.” Hold on for a second…I think I need to vomit. With all due respect to these friends of ours I must say that this is a complete recipe for, at best, mediocrity and, at worst, a total client/customer exodus from your company.
[imageeffect type="frame" align="alignleft" width="225" height="163" alt="" url="http://www.digitalreaction.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/sp_interior.jpg" ]Now don’t get me wrong. We love best practices! We are a best practices firm. We specialize in uncovering the best of the best customer service best practices of the best customer service professionals and companies out there, and in teaching those best practices to customer service representatives and their leaders. The problem I have is with this whole “strict adherence” concept. Nothing is worse than an overly scripted CSR who is reading to me right from a script as we try to have a flowing, natural conversation. It is the worst! In my opinion, this is as bad as customer service gets. Scripts are great to have but they are terrible to read from. If the script was crafted correctly it should be chock-full of great things to say and talk about. But! (And this is a big but!) They should never be read from during a customer interaction. The scripts should be internalized to become great content that reveals itself in the natural flow of a good conversation. Have the right things to say, but don’t have them read to me in a robotic voice. Let the conversation flow naturally and the overall interaction will be a success.
So the question is this: What are the characteristics of a great (flowing, natural, successful) customer service interaction?
The answer is this: The best customer service interactions are CRISP!
First of all, let’s quickly look at the definition of the word “crisp” before we move on to the actual components of the acronym CRISP.
As defined by my trusted online dictionary, the word “crisp” means a way of speaking, interacting or writing briefly, decisively and concisely, without hesitation and/or unnecessary detail. I think that is a pretty accurate description of how I would like my customer service interactions to flow.
Now let’s look at the acronym CRISP because I think you will all agree that these are exactly the types of interactions you would like to have but, too often, do not participate in:
The C in CRISP = Compassion – Feeling or showing concern or sympathy for others.
The R in CRISP = Rewarding – Providing satisfaction; gratifying.
The I in CRISP = Interactive – Two or more people influencing and having an effect on each other.
The S in CRISP = Simple – Easily understood and done with limited to no difficulty.
The P in CRISP = Personalized – Interact in such a way as to design or customize to meet a person’s individual requirements, needs or preferences.
Sometimes I am still amazed by the power of the average dictionary. A big shout out to Dr. Samuel Johnson for giving the English language it’s first really kick-ass dictionary. If more people read to truly understand the contents of the average dictionary we would have a much better world to live in.
[blockquote type="blockquote_line" align="right"]As defined by my trusted online dictionary the word “crisp” means the following: A way of speaking, interacting or writing briefly, decisively and concisely, without hesitation and/or unnecessary detail.[/blockquote]
This acronym above clearly defines for me exactly what I am looking for in most interactions with customer service professionals. And I really want to emphasize the personalization piece. We have to allow our interactions with customers to flow and take on a shape, texture and life of their own. People are different and unique and we want to be treated as such. We want to be heard by somebody who will react to us and not to the next box in their customer interaction flow chart! We want our interactions with a CSR to be CRISP! Compassionate, Rewarding, Interactive, Simple and Personalized.
If your team cannot move away from “strict adherence” to rigid and consistent scripting for every call you are going to have a tough time competing with those companies who have the ability to conduct unique, customized, CRISP conversations.
Are you a CRISP conversationalist or are you a robotic script reader? Where do you rank on the CRISP Olympic Scale (1 to 10)? How CRISP are your leadership conversations and how CRISP are your CSR teams conversations with customers? Move these scores as close to a 10 as possible and you will have very loyal customers!
Have a great weekend everybody.