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When the CSR Doesn’t Service


Now, I know that the acronym “CSR” stands for “Customer Service Representative” but how many CSR’s know what that middle initial means?

Case in point: I had to phone a fairly large company to get information. Since I didn’t know who the person I wanted to speak to was, I couldn’t use the automated directory or punch in an extension number. I wanted to speak to a person who could route my call to the proper department or person. Naturally my phone call went into an automated incoming telephone system where I floundered until, out of desperation, I hit the “O” button and actually got someone to talk to. That person said, “I’ll connect you to a “CSR.”

Note that they used the acronym “CSR” instead of using the words “Customer Service Representative.” At that point I knew I was in trouble because, in my experience, when people get accustomed to using acronyms, they rarely relate to the meaning of those initials.

The phone was answered by a robotic sounding person who, when I stated what I was looking for, said curtly, “You’re in the wrong department” and, without any further explanation put me on “hold” where I was forced to listen to unending “advertising-on-hold.” It was either stay on the line with gritted teeth or hang up.

Eventually someone came on the line, and answered my query after sending me to “advertising-on-hold” purgatory three more times.

I don’t think that anyone walks in to work in the morning with the goal of seeing how many customers they can get angry but it sure seems that way. Whoever designed that phone system, trained the first person I reached, wrote the manuals, or gave someone the title “CSR” instead of “Customer Service Representative” is shortchanging both the company and the customer. When the customer gets fed up with that level of uncaring, robotic service and goes somewhere else to get good service, who gets blamed? The CSR and that person probably don’t know what that middle initial stands for. And whose fault is that?

Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, “Front Lines with Larry Galler” For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment – Sign up for his free newsletter at

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