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The question of CSR evaluations

Sep 1, 2002 12:00 AM

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By what criteria should you judge a customer service representative's (CSR) performance?

  • HOW HARD THEY WORK | Hard workers get more done in less time.

  • HOW WELL THEY COMMUNICATE | Communicating is the most important thing CSRs do. Unless they ascertain exactly what customers want and need and effectively convey that knowledge to production, companies cannot even begin to satisfy their customers.

  • WILLINGNESS TO LEARN ABOUT PRINTING | CSRs cannot clearly communicate printing information without knowing about the technology.

  • HOW DILIGENTLY THEY WORK TO GET ALL JOB SPECIFICATIONS ON TIME | Without information, production cannot go forward. CSRs are counted on to keep after customers for missing instructions.

  • WHETHER THEY WORK EFFECTIVELY TO GET JOBS DELIVERED ON TIME | When delivery dates are not provided, CSRs are counted on to find out when that customers' jobs are needed. They must keep production informed, win its commitment, and obtain and convey job schedules to customers and sales.

  • AWARENESS OF THE JOB STATUS | If something isn't happening that should be, CSRs should remind the production staff. When customers call wanting to know when they will get proofs, or when their jobs will be delivered, CSRs should not have to say, “I'll find out, and call you right back.” That makes it seem like nobody is watching after their work. CSRs should have that information at their fingertips. In fact, they should inform the customers before the customers think to ask them.

  • HOW MANY MISTAKES THEY MAKE | The more mistakes CSRs make, the more dangerous they are to have around.

  • WHAT CUSTOMERS SAY ABOUT THEM | Even if the bad things customers say are not justified, CSRs cannot do a good job unless customers think highly of them.

  • HOW WELL THEY WORK WITH SALESPEOPLE | A major reason the CSR position exists is to make it easier for salespeople to sell. That includes making sales reps feel safe and comfortable working with them.

  • HOW WELL THEY WORK WITH ESTIMATORS AND PRODUCTION PEOPLE | Good CSRs are so smooth and so nice to work with that it is a pleasure to accommodate their requests.

  • HOW WELL THEY WORK WITH OTHER CSRS | CSRs need to take breaks, and they should be glad to cover for each other. This is also true when one CSR becomes overloaded — help should be freely requested and freely given.

  • HOW WELL THEY PRIORITIZE | Tasks don't come at CSRs in the sequence in which they need to be carried out. Last-in may have to be first-out. CSRs must be able to determine when to work on what.

  • HOW WELL THEY HANDLE PRESSURE | CSRs who cannot handle pressure are in danger of cracking up — and it will be at the worst time.

  • WHETHER THEY ANTICIPATE EMERGENCIES AND HELP TO HEAD THEM OFF | It is always better to prevent fires than to scurry around putting them out. Averting emergencies maintains the possibility of doing good work without needless waste and frayed nerves.

  • THE EXTENT TO WHICH THEY HELP IMPROVE UPON EXISTING SYSTEMS | Alert CSRs are aware of what causes customers to be unhappy. They watch for internal weaknesses that lead to customer dissatisfaction. Moreover, they participate in fixing the problems.

  • HOW MUCH THEY LEARN ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS' BUSINESSES | The more CSRs know about the companies they work with, the more able they are to fully understand what customers need.

  • THE PERSONAL TOUCHES THEY ADD TO RELATIONS WITH CUSTOMERS | Birthday and anniversary cards, congratulations upon a child's graduation and friendly chitchat all help to build good relationships and to increase customer loyalty.

  • THE AMOUNT OF REPEAT BUSINESS THEY HELP TO BRING IN | When customers send orders directly to CSRs without going through a salesperson, that's a clear sign that CSRs are doing something right.


Conversely, what are some criteria by which CSRs should not be judged?

  • THE DOLLAR VOLUME THEY HANDLE | A large number of small, inexpensive jobs are often more difficult to handle than a few big, expensive jobs.

  • THE NUMBER OF JOBS THEY HANDLE | Rather, how complicated is it to accurately complete the jobs and adhere to the customer's original specifications?

  • THE NUMBER OF SALESPEOPLE THEY WORK WITH | Instead, focus on how many orders each sales rep brings in.

  • THE COST OF THEIR MISTAKES | A mistake on a large job is far more costly than the exact same mistake on a small one.

These days, customers take for granted that printers will supply good quality, fast turnaround and decent prices. What counts now, more than ever, is that extra touch — that willing, friendly and competent service provided by well-trained CSRs.