8 Books Every Customer Support Representative Should Read

A customer support representative should have good writing skills as email support is his/her prime responsibility. To use empathy in your writing makes communication effective and draws customers near.

But does all that come as a gift to everyone? And if it does, then should we stop there and not progress? When it comes to writing, we feel that every word that matches with the situation will come to our mind instantly; but that seldom happens. Choosing the right words and placing them in the right way is crucial for customer support representatives.

As Mark Twain once said: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Organizations depend on good written communication so as to improve relations with customers and create loyalty. Wishing customers on holidays, calming them down of fears/rumors, or even daily updating them requires good writing skills.

Whether you are good in communication or you somehow manage to string words down on paper, it is worth your time to know how to do it well.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

In this book, William Zinsser advises writers (at all levels) in a clear and simple way. He touched the philosophical and artistic aspects of writing apart from the fundamental principles of punctuation and grammar.

He says in his book: “Also bear in mind, when you’re choosing words and stringing them together, how they sound. This may seem absurd: readers read with their eyes. But in fact they hear what they are reading far more than you realize. Therefore such matters as rhythm and alliteration are vital to every sentence.”

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Customer Support can become a difficult job and some crucial mails may slip through unnoticed if there is ineffective time management. While a helpdesk software can do good to manage your work, a book like this teaches stress-free productivity to its readers and may actually prove better than a software.

“Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I just suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly.” – David Allen

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

This book has clear and concise instructions/advice that may stay with people for a long time. A one-time read is no just enough. The statements and words can be immediately practiced like in this book there’s a line that reads: “Rule 17: Omit needless words.” This shows how straightforward this book has been written.

E.B. White (in a Paris Review Interview) stated: “He [a writer] should tend to lift people up, not lower them down.”

When things don’t turn out to be good and customers are unhappy, it is a great opportunity for customer support members to exercise empathetic writing, change their views and bring them close to you.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, a well-known psycholinguist, blends in with his field to question the rules that are being followed ever since. To bring a change in the way we think things work in customer relations, this book is a good choice.

“An aspiring writer could be forgiven for thinking that learning to write is like negotiating an obstacle course in boot camp, with a sergeant barking at you for every errant footfall. Why not think of it instead as a form of pleasurable mastery, like cooking or photography? Perfecting the craft is a lifelong calling, and mistakes are part of the game. Though the quest for improvement may be informed by lessons and honed by practice, it must first be kindled by a delight in the best work of the masters and a desire to approach their excellence.”

Writing That Works; How to Communicate Effectively in Business by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson

This book emphasizes the need to learn writing skills. Apart from writing daily emails, there are plenty of updates and memos that customer support members write. Poor written communication may ruin the image of the organization both internally and externally.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

“Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.” – Anne Lamott

This book describes the life of a writer, the challenges he/she faces to craft a piece of artwork (writing).

Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

“If you want people to lose weight, one effective strategy is to put mirrors in the cafeteria.” – Thaler and Cass Sunstein

This book explains that there is a psychological aspect to understanding customers and how small behavioral ‘nudges’ can alter the choices people make.

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The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

According to Schwartz, giving more choices to customers doesn’t help them. This books explains why it may be unwise to the customers and your organization. After research, Schwartz concludes that more choices can make us more stressed and unhappy.

“We give disproportionate weight to whether yogurt is said to be five percent fat or 95 percent fat free. People seem to think that yogurt that is 95 percent fat free is a more healthful product than yogurt that has five percent fat.” – Barry Schwartz

Niki Vajdova

Marketing Intern

Student at Faculty of management - Comenius University in Bratislava.

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