Customer service positions—online, on the phone and in person—account for a large percentage of available summer jobs. While customer service positions are often assumed to be ideal for entry-level workers, this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, the assumption that new workers can be easily assigned to customer service positions presumes that customer service positions require little or no training, but this is far from true. Customer service skills, like other work-related skills, are generally acquired rather than innate. For this reason, using rookies, with little or no training, to reach out to customers can be a huge mistake. Customer service representatives, after all, are on the front line—they are the public face of your organization. Ensuring that your summer staff is thoroughly trained before they start interacting with customers, then, is critical. In today’s post, we discuss just some customer service essentials that all representatives should have before they pick up their first call or walk on to the retail floor. This post pays specific attention to the customer service strengths and weaknesses typical of incoming Generation Z employees.
Generation Z and Customer Service
This summer, Generation Z—the generation that comes after Millennials and has grown up entirely online and in most cases, tethered to mobile devices–will be entering the workforce in higher numbers. So far, the stereotype of Gen Z or “screeners”—at least the stereotype being bandied about by many educators and employers—is by and large negative. What we know so far is that members of Gen Z are digital natives who expect to be able to access information any time and any place but lose interest in information just as quickly. In a nutshell, members of Gen Z are frequently depicted as tech-savvy, distracted, self-absorbed and more interested in developing their own startups than working for established organizations. On this surface, this may not sound like a generation made for customer service, but Gen Z members do possess at least some skills that can be leveraged to outstanding support customer service…so let’s begin by examining what the workforce’s youngest employees have to offer.
Gen Z has grown up accessing information from multiple sources. From researching what toys their parents should purchase for their birthdays to finding ways to download music and films for free to scouting out the best colleges, Gen Z has been acquiring vital information on their own for most of their lives. Given that a great deal of customer service is simply about helping customers access the right information (e.g., about products and services), Gen Z’s information acquisition skills are something that employers will definitely want to leverage.
Gen Z, while tethered to their devices, is by and large a highly social generation. Thanks to texting and social media, many members of Gen Z have grown up socializing 24/7. Leveraging their social prowess, then, is also highly recommended.
Gen Z assumes that everything should happen now! In short, like impatient customers, they appreciate the value of immediacy. Again, employers are advised to leverage Gen Z’s assumption that immediacy is the new normal.
Customer Service Essentials that Generation Z Employees May Lack
While Gen Z employees may exhibit superior information acquisition skills, highly developed social skills (though some experts maintain that they are only able to socialize online and not in person) and an appreciation for immediacy, great customer service requires attention to several other skills that may be somewhat underdeveloped in Generation Z employees.
A key to great customer service is the ability to be patient, especially when a customer simply needs to vent.
Great customer service is about giving a customer one’s full attention (e.g., simply listening rather than multitasking).
Ability to “read” customers
Sometimes great customer service is not simply about listening but also about being able to anticipate what a customer wants or needs before they are able to articulate their own wants or needs. In short, it means being intuitive.
In order to provide great customer service, one needs to understand the product or service they are supporting inside and out. This means developing a high degree of knowledge and brand loyalty.
Keeping one’s cool
The best customer service representatives are able to keep their cool under any circumstance. In short, they need to be able to appreciate that even if a customer is screaming at them on the phone or in person, it’s not about them. In fact, it’s their job is to let the customer vent until they can intervene with a viable solution.
For more on customer service training, see eLeaP’s course: Customer Service Excellence.