By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor


CSR: “I’m in customer service; I’m not in sales.”

After working with many call center folks over the years, I’ve heard that enough times that it warranted some attention.

But I’m also hearing call center managers and supervisors saying, “We want our CSR’s to be more proactive to get into sales.”

What’s a CSR to do?

Story time:

Most of you reading this are familiar or semi-familiar with Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training is. We’ve been around 30 plus years.

We have a sales team that helps people and companies find a solution to their customer service concerns.

I’m going to focus on one particular salesperson for this story.

She’d been with us for eight or ten years and was doing very well selling our DVDs and our other services to clients around the country. They loved her.

Over the years she would get dozens of holiday cards from these folks and most always had a note thanking her and saying how good she was. She continually raised the bar for other team members on handling her customers. She was a lean mean selling machine. Never ever getting to meet these folks, her job was 100% phone work.

One autumn day she comes into my office and wants to talk.

“Sure, let’s talk,” I say. She proceeds to go into detail how she thinks she’s going to leave Telephone Doctor and find a job in customer service. She liked helping people. She wasn’t sure sales was the right career for her. She liked it here, but wanted to be of more help to people.

Hmmmm. This from a lady who was making more money than she ever had in her life? Ok, money isn’t everything. But she sure loved making it let me tell you.

This from a sales member who got the most compliments on her customer service? I didn’t understand.

So after a few moments of thinking (I am a quick thinker) I said, “Judy (not her real name), what if we put you in our customer service department and you still got to make and get calls and talk with the same folks you have been working with over the years? Even meet new folks?”

She lit up. “Oh could I? I didn’t realize we had a customer service department,” she said. “Well, (again I thought fast) we do now and I want you to head it up. You’ll still get to answer calls and call clients and you’ll also get to talk with new folks who call in and need something. You, in effect, can be our ‘specialist.’ How’s that?”

“Oh my goodness. If I could do that and not sell I won’t need to leave.”

“Right,” I said. “All you need to do is continue being you and making sure the folks you talk with are aware of our new products and if they want them…great, and if not, okay too. At least you’ve offered! Just don’t deny them a choice of things you know we have that can help them. Will that work for you?”

“I’m so relieved. YES,” she said. “Thank you. I just felt sales was a bit too pressury and this will work great.”

Judy stayed on 10 more years continuing to get the same great customer service comments and better yet, maintained her high sales levels.

Bottom line point being, customer service is sales. Sales is customer service. Don’t deny your customers a choice? It’s that simple.

Thanks and please share.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.