After working here at Top Floor for two months, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on my role and put into writing what it is that I do every day. I hope to provide you, the reader, with a little peek "under the hood" of our customers' first line of contact- the Client Services Representative. Some of you might wonder what a Client Services Representative does and what role they play in the website design, development, and search engine management process. It might be natural to think of us as middle-men. Just a roadblock in the communicative efforts between a specialist and the client. In fact, CSRs serve an invaluable role in the customer experience.
Jacks (and Jills) of All Trades
A Client Services Representative needs to be familiar with every part of a site. The programmer digs into the code behind a site, the designer focuses on the aesthetics of a site, and the SEM specialist will work on the searchability of a site. The CSR must have a working knowledge of all of these aspects and make sure they cooperate in tandem to deliver an effective web strategy. In order for a specialist to do their job to the best of their ability, the CSR needs to be aware of what everyone is doing so there are no redundancies and so no one "undoes" another's work. To borrow the old metaphor, the CSR works to ensure that the left hand knows what the right is doing.
More than a Smiling Face
Top Floor takes pride in our client interaction. It is in our best interest for clients to be engaged and informed in the projects that we are undertaking, and transparency in our process is an absolute necessity. It is a CSR's job to provide that transparency. If a client has a question about why we did something one way instead of the other, it is up to us to present a compelling case for our team's actions. It is important that the customer knows that we have their best interests at heart. Not only must we provide the client with answers, but we just as often need to relay a client's desires to the specialists. In a sense, we act as a funnel. A client may have several wishes or may demand that something be done in a certain amount of time. The CSR works to set expectations for both the client and the specialist so that realistic goals are set and achieved.
The Sounding Boards
As a CSR, we are often asked for our feedback on projects. Because we are not immersed in every single project, we can provide a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective. This can be invaluable to someone who is intimately involved in a project because they might not recognize the usability issues that a "typical" user might experience. Let me give you an example of when a fresh pair of eyes saved a client some potential headaches down the road. Our team was working on an aggressive schedule to complete a micro-site. The programmers worked day and night to complete it. One day, I was asked to use the search functions to locate a page within the site. After looking and looking, I finally realized that it had been staring me in the face the entire time. Problem was, it was located right next to an "Ask An Expert" link. I had assumed that the empty field had been set there to ask an expert a question, when in reality it was the site's internal search function. I pointed this out to the programmer, and he agreed that if it had confused me then there was a good chance it would confuse other users as well. He was so involved in the project; he saw the two separate links for what they were. But a typical user scanning the site might not have differentiated the two functions. It took the naivete of a CSR to point out the issue and prevent some potential confusions down the road. A CSR wears many different hats in a typical day. Although they might not dive into the depths of a project, they must have an "above the clouds" view of everything that is happening. This affords us the ability to relay to a customer- who may or may not be heavily involved in their site- what our team is doing and why. Although some may see us as roadblocks in the communication process, a CSR in fact acts as a cooperative and knowledgeable facilitator.