I work for Silver Point Car Care Centre. This company deals mainly with servicing and repairing vehicles. I am a customer care representative with the company. My role involves handling the paperwork involved when a client brings in a vehicle. It also includes: answering phones; responding to inquiries; noting down complaints; and generally ensuring that the client is well attended to. As a customer care representative, I have been exposed to different situations. I have had to learn how to manage polite as well as rude clients. Indeed, this job has opened up my eyes to the importance of good customer service in a business. Good customer care is essential to the survival of any business. Bad service may cause the business to suffer or even fail (Collins, 2009).
My Work Experience
When I first started my job, I was first taken through a one-week training period where I was educated on the importance of treating customers well. The first thing I was taught was to listen. Over the course of my job, listening has been a key criterion for me to be effective. I discovered that listening does not only involve paying attention to the verbal communication of the client, it also involves listening being able to discern non verbal communication too (Sedlock, 2010).
It has often been difficult, because some irate customers actually begin to shout and hurl insults. In such situations, I learnt how to control my emotions and avoid getting upset. As a customer care representative, I still had to pay attention to the shouting client and to ensure that his needs are met. This meant that I developed high levels of self control and patience. The same applies when I receive complaints on the part of the company. I must then reassure the client and make sure that appropriate steps are taken to remedy the situation. This ensures that that the customer knows he or she is treasured by the company.
I also learnt about being proactive and the benefits it accorded. This was because when a client complained about something or required information, it was up to me to provide this. This meant that many times, I had to go out of my way to attend to clients’ needs. As a customer care representative, the image of the company is dependent on how well I execute my job (Collins, 2009). This pressure modeled me into a better person as I became more proactive. I was previously rather lazy and plagued by the problem of procrastination. I would keep postponing any duties or assignments I had until the last minute. Working at Silver Point Car Care Centre helped me to gain a ‘can do’ attitude. I became more motivated and since the job required immediate response from me, I adopted this into the way I operate. I am now a firm believer in not postponing any work or task, I embark on it as soon as possible without any excuses.
I also learnt the value of integrity and honesty in business. I realized this when I was dealing with a certain prospective client who called in to make inquiries. In the spirit of trying to acquire a new client for the company, I exaggerated slightly on the services we offered. The prospective client did bring her car for servicing, but became extremely angry to realize that not all the services I had told her about were actually available. I ran into a lot of trouble with my boss, as this lady was particularly aggressive. From that experience I learnt that honesty was of the utmost importance. It was self defeating to make promises which the company could not fulfill. This image was bad for the company and therefore, counterproductive.
My communication skills were also polished; both telephone and face-to-face. During telephone calls I learnt to be warm, calm and professional .This attitude would impress the client. A friendly telephone conversation communicates to the client that the company takes interest in its customer service. A cold telephone conversation creates an unfavorable image and may cause the company to lose prospective clients. I also learnt how to communicate effectively with clients face-to-face. According to Sedlock, (2010), personal encounters with the clients means that the client uses a minimum of two senses (sight and sound) to evaluate the company unlike a telephone communication which uses one (sound). In light of this I was always required to project a professional image. I was not allowed to wear jeans or sneakers to work. I also had to ensure that my personal hygiene was of the highest standards. Image is essential in the world of business. In order to be taken seriously, one needs to project an air of professionalism.
Another important lesson I learnt was to separate my personal emotions from business. I often reported to work in a foul mood due to various reasons. However, I was always required to be upbeat and professional when serving clients. Admittedly, this was not easy for me to achieve . It was hard for me to sound warm when I was upset about something or someone. However, with time, I learnt to be able to ignore my personal emotions and serve a client cheerfully. The same also applied when serving difficult and annoying clients. At first, it was a challenge for me not to react angrily to unreasonable clients, but with time, it became easier for me. I realized that offering good customer service involved being able to calm down a highly agitated client. This actually required a lot of skill, but with time I was able to master it.
Working in customer service also helped me to adopt a different perspective and led me to redefine the word ‘customer’. Before, I was of the opinion that the customer is the one who actually pays for goods or services. This was however, a rather short sighted view. A customer can include a wide variety of people including fellow support people and employees. Customers are also those who may not seem particularly interested, I learnt that anyone had the potential for conversion into customers. It was therefore important for me to be able to constantly provide good service to everyone without any discrimination.
When working at Silver Point Car Care Centre, I was not the only customer care representative. We were several of us and we worked as a team. This was a very good experience because it taught me the value of team work. We were expected to work cohesively so as to ensure that our clients were happy, which would in turn convert them into loyal customers (Collins, 2009). From this experience, I also learnt to take responsibility for any shortcomings. This is because as a team it is easy to shift blame and avoid accepting shortcomings.
Working in customer service has been an eye opening experience for me. I learnt a whole new set of skills which will undoubtedly be very useful in the future. It first sharpened my listening skills and became more aware of both verbal and non verbal communication. These skills will be essential in my future career as I will be more adept at understanding not only customers but also my fellow colleagues and bosses. By learning how to control my emotions especially in the face of irate customers, I will be able to make sober decisions with a clear head even amidst any serious misunderstandings or situations. Proactivity is a very valuable habit that I developed in the course of my job. It is very important not only in a professional capacity but also in my personal life. Professionally, this habit will help me be a highly efficient individual which will give me a competitive advantage over my competition (Sedlock, 2009).
I also learnt about the value of integrity and honesty especially in business. This basically means that one should not promise what cannot be delivered. Lack of integrity causes the business to break down as clients become increasingly disillusioned with the dishonest company. Thus a loyal client base is not established and this means that the business may fail unless changes are made. I was also educated on the importance of personal image not only as a projection of the company’s image but also as a reflection of my professionalism. Finally, I learnt the value of team work and the importance of cohesion within a team. Team work aids the growth of the company and individual members.
Collins, D. (2009). Essentials of Business Ethics: Creating an Organizational of High Integrity. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons
Sedlock, R.(2010). TREAT Your Customers. Quality Progress, 43(12), 80. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 2245447381)