As a customer service representative, you are the direct link between the customers and your company. Therefore making you a natural brand ambassador of whatever company you work for. It requires selfless service even under duress. You have to be the warmest response even in the face of chaos.
According to Salesforce, customer service is the support you offer your customers, before and after they buy and use your products or services, this helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. Customer support is more than just providing answers; it’s an important part of the promise your brand makes to its customers.
In Nigeria today, customer service department has become a must have in every company. While the top management are left in their quiet offices to focus on building the company, the customer service team ensures the customers feel at home and spend more money. Isn’t that all we want for our business to grow which means more money in our pockets?
A Woman’s Job?
Is it a coincidence that many top companies hire more women to fill up customer care representatives roles? Does this have something to do with the fact that women are perceived to be more empathetic? We’ll never know. But one thing we know for sure is that companies hire people who are able to provide value to the business.
One way they do this is by ensuring that the customer facing staff are attractive, warm and ad-marketable. And who better to do this than women? But there’s a downside to this. People get sexualized at work, a lot.
Signs that a customer is hitting on you
- They start asking for you to attend to their other needs or problems.
- Ask you for your private number.
- Attempt to buy gift items for you.
- Ask you out for a drink.
- Change their tone of speech from professional to casual.
Here’s What I learned
During my university days, Zenith bank was known to harbor tall sharp looking women. There was hardly ever a day you visited without meeting up to 10 hot awesomely dressed girls in well tailored suits with the most expensive human hair.
And because of this warmth and flashy appearance, some customers take the niceness as a sign of romantic affection. Customers sometimes begin to ignore their mission and try to go after something else. This can get awkward, uncomfortable and down right insulting.
As a customer service representative myself, I have to make and take a lot of calls to inform customers and also clarify information. Some people know my name and do not even have a face to it. And because of the constant calls, they think there is a platform to build other relationships. They begin to digress from business related topics to other topics.
What to do when a customer is hitting on you
(a) Draw your line
Being friendly poses a slight danger; some customers may interpret this as flirting and respond in kind. So depersonalize everything. Make all statements all about your company.
“What can WE help you with?”
“Do you need verification from us?”
(b) Report inappropriate behavior to your superior
When people come in and decide to talk about things other than your service, that could be a red flag. Always keep your boss informed at all times, so that if a customer is flirting with you, he/she is already in the loop and knows how to react to the situation when it escalates.
(c) Lay down the law
If a customer becomes an admirer that is normal and may help your company make more sales. But if your company has a rule against fraternization with key clients, you may want to stay away entirely. Once a customer suggest a get-together, tell them kindly that dating them will go against your company’s policy.
(d) Don’t accept that lovely gift
Accepting an expensive gift from a customer who is an admirer is like a bird going into a trap. It is a slippery slope that should be avoided. You can thank the customer and explain that you can’t accept them because you were just doing your job and if they insist inform your superior before accepting the gift.
(e) Keep your hours
Giving your personal number to customers may hint to them that are interested in furthering their advances. Do not do that whether they’re admirers or not. Only share your work numbers and the hours that you are available for the company. Someone who is professional now may grow an interest in the future, which is normal. Carry out all unprofessional relationships after office hours and ensure to separate your personal life from you business.
(f) Be kind to a point
When a customer is hitting on you, they may feel insulted when you reject their advances. You have to act smart and professional. Always acknowledge compliments and change the subject immediately, leaving no room for continuity. For Example; “Thanks! What brought you in here today?” “This company brings out the best in everyone. What brings you to us today?” “Thank you. What can we help you with today?”
(g) Involve your co-workers
While I advice that you do not involve them in the actual interaction, but let them know what is happening. You may frame it as the customer is being unprofessional and everyone can relate. Having your colleagues on your side is very valuable. For Example “Wasn’t that awkward. How do you handle it when someone is being forward?” or “How do wake in here to talk about something else, and then don’t want to talk about the services.
It is very important that every step you take is approved by your superiors or understood by your colleagues.
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