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Upgrade Your Customer Support Rep to a Customer Support Professional

The other day I was talking with a gentleman who was as passionate about customer service and experience as I am. He had worked with support centers and we were discussing how important the team in a customer support center is to an organization. Yet, it surprised both of us just how low paid some of these support people are.

That made me think about the teller at a bank, the person who is the “face” of the bank for all intents and purposes. They greet the customers, handle their money, and work directly with the customers – more than anyone else in the bank – yet it is typically one of the lower-paid positions.

And that made me think about a receptionist at a company. Many times, this is considered a lower-paying position too, yet the receptionist is often the first person the company’s most important customers talk with first. A talented receptionist is a friendly voice greeting customers who may have questions or concerns about the company, or perhaps a potential customer getting their first impression of the company’s service and culture. The receptionist plays a critical role for the company.

I’m not suggesting that the amount someone is paid is an indicator of their importance. But it does surprise me that the lower-paid positions are often most responsible for interacting with customers. One way to reflect their importance, to show that they are the best of the best in any and all of these positions, regardless of what they are paid, is to bestow the title of professional.

While this can apply to any of these positions, as well as many others, let’s use the customer support representative as an example. These are great people who work in customer support centers and respond to a customer’s questions and complaints with patience, empathy, and efficiency. They answer phones, emails, texts, social media comments, and more. They’re your front line for your customers. And they’re often referred to as CSRs, or customer service representatives. What would happen if you simply changed the word representative to the word professional? How would that make the employee feel? How would it make the customer feel, knowing that he or she is dealing with a professional?

Maybe it’s just a word, but when you call someone a professional, it elevates their stature and instills a greater sense of dignity and pride in their work. It’s a daily reminder that you’re more than just a CSR, you’re a professional. And remember, even if you don’t have the word professional in your job description or title, it doesn’t mean you can’t act like a professional.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXVIII, Shep Hyken)

  1. Excellent points, Shep!

    When I was researching my first book, I discovered that companies tend to value technical skills like engineering, software development, or financial management but do not place a premium on jobs that require a high degree of emotional intelligence such as social workers, 911 operators, and customer service representatives. It’s probably no surprise that many of the top customer service organizations pay their employees above average wages.

    • Yes… those “top organizations” get it. They take care of their front liners. They are the ambassadors of the company. And, sometimes they take care of them with pay, but they almost always make them feel appreciated for their hard work, which is also a form of compensation.

      • Great post Shep! … These additional benefits (emotional salary) help to retain the best employees that add a great deal of value to the organization and would be difficult to replace, it is a wise investment.

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