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Focus on these things to succeed in Customer Service

Customer Service Management Lessons from The Karate Kid


{#/pub/images/CustomerSerivceManagementLessonsfromtheKarateKid.jpg}“Wax on- wax off!”  Admit it. The original Karate Kid movie is great.  In it good triumphs over evil and the mean people get their just deserts.  I somehow feel more motivated to fight the good fight myself after watching a rerun.  I have secretly wished that I had a Mr. Miyagi in my life; someone who could impart wisdom for all of life’s trials and keep me accountable to doing the right thing.


In the movie, young Daniel did not understand the value of waxing the car, sanding the floor or painting the fence in order to master karate.  Learning the power moves such as a scissor kick was more of what he had in mind.  What Daniel didn’t understand was that repeating these simple movements over and over again was preparing him for a fight that could happen at any time.  His brain and his body were memorizing the movements so his responses would be instinctive.  When a punch came his way his hands knew exactly what to do.  Afterwards, Daniel was able to replay the fight in his head and realized that what seemed like useless busy work was actually valuable training that gave him an advantage against his opponent.  Mr. Miyagi knew what he was doing.


How you can be more like Mr. Miyagi with your customer service department.

1) You need to establish an ethical and honorable code of conduct. 

In the movie Karate Kid, Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are up against the Cobra Kai students and their leader who has trained his students to win by any means necessary and that included fighting dirty and cheating.  The trophy and the title were more important than honor.  When a leader cheats to win, it hurts people.  “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep its eye on the spot where the crack was.”    Do the right thing even when no one is looking.

2) The scripts for customer service are the equivalent of what waxing the car, sanding the floor or painting the fence were to Mr. Miyagi. 

They are your training exercises that develop proper responses to customer questions and service needs.  The repetitiveness of the skills on the scripts is intentional so that a CSR will develop right responses to the customer.  CSRs should start their training by writing on a script for every call.  You need to manage this training by collecting those scripts at the end of the day which adds a component of accountability.

3) Test for understanding. 

That means sitting down with each CSR and asking him/her to explain to you the reasons behind the different details on each script.  This will help you clarify misconceptions and better define company strategies so that everyone is on the same page. You don’t want a robot that asks questions or gives answers without right application.  

4) Encourage your CSRs to memorize the scripts so that when a call comes in it will be natural to handle your customers the right way. 

You can have some fun working on this skill by role-playing without a script while the rest of the team evaluates how the CSR handles the conversation.  Provide a bell or a buzzer for the CSRs to use if and when the person doing the role play misses a skill.  See who can get the farthest and give a prize for that accomplishment.  You may be surprised at how many of your CSRs have the scripts memorized already.  This exercise will boost confidence.

5) The pursuit of excellence has a beginning, but it should not have an end. 

That means that you as a manager and your veteran CSRs need ongoing training and practice.  As a manager, you need to take customer calls each week so that you can master the scripts yourself and understand ways you may be able to improve upon them for your location.  Maybe there is something you can add that will help eliminate problems your operations or sales teams are bringing to your attention.  Veteran CSRs need to attend training as a refresher each year and they will benefit from side-by-side coaching which should include praise and suggestions for improvement.



The goal of customer service training and management is not to script every scenario, but to give your customer service representatives the training, knowledge and experiences necessary to respond instinctively to the customer in a way that benefits the company and makes the customer happy.  Apologizing to an unhappy customer should be a natural instinctive response versus words to read on a sheet of paper.  Making sure a new account is set up properly every time needs to be the way we do business all the time, not just when the phones are slow or you think it is a monitored call.  Customer satisfaction scores and individual performance scores should both keep you accountable and give you something to celebrate as skills improve not just on paper, but in the day to day interactions with your customers. 



{#/pub/images/LoriMiller.jpg}Written by Lori Miller, Nationally known speaker, author and President of Tooty Inc. Known as “the queen of customer service,” Lori helps companies increase employee morale and bottom line results while improving customer satisfaction. Leaders of some of the world’s largest companies rely on Lori to provide solutions to some of the toughest customer service and employee issues. For over 25 years, clients have worked with Lori’s company to evaluate, train, monitor and mentor their call center, customer service and sales departments to create custom scripts, training and strategies that change employee behavior, reduce turnover and boost customer satisfaction. Lori is a member of the National Speakers Association and a Board Member of the National Speakers Association-Illinois Chapter. Lori is a contributing author of Mastering the Art of Success, which was published in 2011 and Concrete Jungle,  published in 2012.


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