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Nervous CSR (Advice needed)

Author gorby
#1 | Posted: 18 Apr 2007 10:46 
I am a Coach in a call center. I have a new hire that I think can be a great CSR. However, when she gets on the phone, customers make her nervous. When this happens she makes errors. It is not a knowledge problem. If you give her an exercise/quiz to test her technical knowledge, she does a great job. However, you place a customer on the phone with her and her nerves just take over.

Does anyone have any suggestions, tools that I might use to help this representative?

Author patilint
#2 | Posted: 18 Apr 2007 12:01 
I have been in customer service a long long time - 40 years and when I first started I used to get extremely nervous if someone was watching or listening to me while I was on the phone. Not sure why, I knew my stuff but I guess I figured I was being judged and watched and was not comfortable.

I finally relaxed after some time on the job and realizing that I was doing a good job and the customers were reacting favorably to me. Tell her to picture the customer as " naked " while they are calling....sounds dumb but it may just work and relax her so she isn't worried about the customer focusing on her....

If you sit with her or near her so she knows you are hearing or seeing her - try setting up an observation phone away from her so she doesn't see you watching and maybe she can relax.

I can empathize with her....some of us are just that way...till we get going real good...it hasn't bothered me in a long time but I do remember those days.

Good luck to her and you- let me know how she progresses.

Author cedennis
#3 | Posted: 18 Apr 2007 15:20 
Gorby - this is not at all uncommon. Handling live calls is like being on stage, and it can be a bit nerve-wracking. One of the greatest stage actors ever, Lionel Barrymore, said that there was never a performance where he did not feel nervous going on.

The trick is to master that nervousness in some acceptable way. Picturing the client naked? Hmmm... I don't know about that one. I guess depending on your customer base, that could be interesting.

I would suggest more tactical things, like taking several really deep breaths before taking the call. Or, once on the call, getting in some brief small talk with the customer, especially if some humor is involved. Laughter is a great tonic for nervousness.

The other thing to stress to your rep is that the customer, even if he is angry, is coming to her for help. She is the key to helping him get what he wants or needs. By actually articulating to the customer, "I can help you with that," one gives assurance to oneself, as well as the customer.

Finally, if there is fear of being harassed by an angry customer, let your rep know that angry customers are a great source for business improvement, and if you can get past their anger (which is usually not directed at the rep personally), you can discover ways of improving your business processes or products or services. Role-playing in training is a good way to "toughen up" reps who get nervous around customers.

Best regards,

Chuck Dennis

Author penocea1
#4 | Posted: 19 Apr 2007 16:44 
I know what she is going through. I just started a new job with the state working in customer service, I have been in customer service for 18 years with different companies. With this new position, we actually have 8 to 10 weeks of intensive training, but only after one week, they wanted us on the phones to take some calls.

I have know idea what I am doing, but I know customer service. Even though I really had no clue how to answer some of the questions, I never let them know it. Sounding confident is very important. I kept telling myself, "I know customer service, I'm good at it, I can do this." It wasn't such a bad day. I actually had two recommendations from satisfied customers!! It took me longer than most to answer their questions, but....Confidence, Confidence!!!!

I think roll playing is very helpful. Come up with some scenerios from past calls or some that she can practice with. Pretend to be the customer and have her be the Rep, vice versa. Have fun with it. Pretend to be an angry customer, a temid one, a customer with a heavy accent. Pretend to be a great customer, a confused one, etc.

But, all honesty, it's really just doing it over and over until you feel comfortable. Nothing comes over night. I wish her the best of luck-and to you and your coaching.

Author ayaree
#5 | Posted: 19 Apr 2007 20:01 
I like Penocea's ideas, I think role-playing between team members (between more seasoned ones who know what will be encountered and people learning new things or starting a new job) is a good thing and there is room for fun and humor.

I also agree with the idea of practice building familiarity and confidence.

Not totally sure what the issue is with the CSR at Gorby's work place. It could be a confidence thing or the woman could be very ill-at-ease with a spotlight being thrown on her. (Is she very young, has not been in many jobs, has been away from it for some time?) Some people are good at theory, less so at practice; some people are wallflowers, others hams, and still others are both of these depending on the day. (I happen to be in the latter category, ha ha.)

I am wondering if there is something about the environment that does not expose this particular CSR to enough animation within the group, so that she can be more at ease and not feel like she is on stage. Ideally, when somebody discovers that they have acquired the knowledge on how to do something amidst other people doing the same thing, they begin to feel like they are part of a group effort/team, and every person has a part. I don't know that I am on to something, but it could simply be a question of team dynamics, and this particular person just may not be as quick as others to get into a comfort zone. I am not trying to say the team dynamics are "lacking"; it could be that this person is unique and just needs the right combo of comforts for her.

It could be that this person needs to hear comments that congratulate her on small snippets of performance (but not too frequently, that would be living under a microscope) and then as she comes out of the shell, the positive comments would need to reflect a progression. OR maybe one would need to lay off and allow for a little sick or swim.

Sometimes there are individuals within a team that pick up on shortcomings in a new person (shyness, stage-fright, confusion during multitasking, whatever it is) and do what they can to "adopt" them and guide them along and privately tell (or hint to) the supervisor/manager/person in charge that they are doing so. Sometimes it works better from a peer level. I can think of people that reported to me that have done this ("taken someone under their wing"), and I would limit my involvement just enough but not totally, until the person that "can do" would begin to emerge. Then I would make reference to the positive outcomes and reinforce a good feeling about having reached a type of finish line.

Confidence is not like black and white for everyone, and I can say that from experience. People that can be analytical (do well on tests to show aptitude/knowledge) can also be people that need to process information, need to be energized on the inside, rather than be the type of person who is immediately/readily engaging and noticed on the outside--and can stand their ground verbally. There's a gold shining inside the less flashy people too, we just need to bring that out.

Ultimately, if this woman does not work out in this role "now," that doesn't mean she is not capable of it later, and in fact, she might be that awesome CSR in a year or two; OR she could be better suited for a role that is more methodical and centered on planning instead of live, audible communication.

Gorby, will be interesting to see how this goes.

Author ayaree
#6 | Posted: 19 Apr 2007 20:03 
Sorry: "OR maybe one would need to lay off and allow for a little sick or swim. "

that would be SINK or swim.

Author patilint
#7 | Posted: 25 Apr 2007 13:41 
Role playing -I think its a wonderful tool for the manager and for some reps to use, but if you have a rep that is nervous with customers they are probably going to be more nervous role playing in front of or with the supervisor and peers. At least I used to be and I still hate it!

I understand that role playing can help if a rep needs to practice what to say and to become more familiar with some of the common and odd scenarios, but remember, each customer puts their own spin on the conversation and you don't want to sound "canned".

It may help her loosen up or it may throw her in the opposite direction. Hopefully it will be the former....good luck!

Author Seaag94
#8 | Posted: 30 Apr 2007 09:40 
I have a question. has she listened in on phone calls that others were taking and watched. Then perhaps you can put her in the driver seat w/ someone else taking the call, her listening in and driving the computer....

Author ayaree
#9 | Posted: 11 May 2007 22:30 
i just finished checking on a story about a negative CSR. Now I am looking after a nervous one.

Did the nervous CSR make it???

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 Nervous CSR (Advice needed)

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