If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

I was talking to someone about customer service over the weekend and he said a great quote that can really summarize the variability among customer service representatives — if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

His point was that, in customer service, you can’t afford to get monkeys and have them interact with your customers. Customer service is very much dependent on the people providing the service, so a really good or a really bad customer service representative can also polarize a customer service experience.

Some companies have seen a lot of success from paying their customer service representatives better than average. I’ve worked with companies that pay their customer service people very well and in turn, get a lot better than average employees. They get people with more experience, initiative, talent, etc. and things tend to get done better and faster. I’ve also seen companies that do the opposite and pay barely anything and get employees who are essentially incompetent. 

It takes more than money to get good customer service people, though. Companies that do well at customer service tend to have strong cultures and tend to hire people who genuinely like their jobs and what they do on a day-to-day basis. Those who are just in their job for the (augmented) paycheck aren’t going to contribute that much to the customer service culture at any company. 

How well does your company pay and what have you noticed as a result?

5 Responses to “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

  1. andrew said:

    May 27, 09 at 3:54 am

    Different companies have various requirements when it comes to hiring customer service representatives. It’s either you go for quality or you go for the price. Apparently, if you pay more, you get the better kind of agents. But I say it all depends on the kind of strategy you’re going to take.

  2. Adesh Sidhu said:

    May 27, 09 at 1:48 pm

    True. In India, customer service people are one of the lowest paid individuals in any organization. They cannot speak English and are not taught basic phone etiquette also. It seems all money is saved by cutting back on customer service.

    I am talking about individuals who are hired to serve in India and not to off shore customers.

  3. J said:

    May 28, 09 at 4:44 pm

    I agree. Companies who take the extra step to connect their customers with great reps are more likely to see more loyal customers in the future.

  4. MC said:

    Jun 04, 09 at 11:40 am

    As a small manufacturer of hot cereal products, we interface with seasoned professionals on distribution and sales levels but more challenging on the consumer level. The latter can be unproductive at times. Having recently been name called a “moron” by an irrational consumer (they found a typo on our website) and later defamatory comments of our staff being mentally unstable and other such ridiculous rantings, we find redirection of positive, indirect, rational replies the most effective way to diffuse such situations. One cannot achieve that type of “psychoanalyzed” response with a $9 or $10 customer service rep. As perception is the essence of a successful business, it is imperative to employ individuals with a strong communication background, thick skin, patient demeanor, mature business mind, and knowledge of their employer products/visions/goals. Retaining such a pro requires a professional salary much higher than typical hourly rates as previously mentioned. Good customer service is hard to come by and expensive to procure but well worth the investment! The right customer service setting is a career, not just a job. And, the right customer service will ultimately make, rather than break, a company.

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