CSR’s Most Powerful Word

Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) have the ability to mold the opinions of literally millions of customers every day, for better or worse.  Whether the CSR works in an in-person customer service environment such as retail, hospitality or food services, or in a call center where face-to-face interaction with a customer is rare, a customer's lasting impression of a company is often formed by the language of the CSR.  In the case of call center CSRs, it is through language and intonation alone as customers do not receive the benefit of non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions.  Therefore, the language and communication style used by the CSR is exceedingly important in forming the customer's perception.  Vocabulary, energy, enthusiasm and personality can be the key factors that define a customer's satisfaction with an interaction.  One of the most powerful words in a CSR's vocabulary is also one that is sometimes the hardest to use.  That word is "can."

Leading industry analyst Kathleen Peterson, Founder and Chief Vision Officer of Powerhouse Consulting, recently wrote about the power of the word "can" in her November, 2011 Rants and Raves column.  Read her rant here: http://powerhouse1.com/rants/rants-nov2011.html.  Many call center interactions are initiated because a customer has a problem or an issue to resolve.  There is a natural tension in these interactions.  In many cases, customers expect to encounter some resistance, or the language of "can't."  Imagine how a customer's impression can be reversed just by creating a culture of "can."  If a CSR can describe what he or she can do, imagine the impact on these millions of interactions.

When interviewing CSR candidates for your organization, present them with difficult and ambiguous scenarios to determine how well that candidate knows the language of "can."  The language of "can" is one of the most important skills a CSR can possess.