|Image courtesy of Pixabay|
Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by Chris Ryba of VHT.
To compete in today’s market, companies have to go beyond providing excellent customer service. Today, we work in an experience economy, where people are looking for a memorable business interaction, not just a successful one.
Companies like Apple have dominated the experience economy by making everything from the website to stores to packaging an Instagram-worthy event. Fortunately, you don’t have to be Apple to stand out in your industry; even small changes in the contact center can shift your service from forgettable to remarkable.
1. Build a Friendship
We all love to spend time with our social circles. In the contact center, you can give customers the pleasure of chatting with friends by treating them as friends.
Know your customer.
You expect friends to remember important information about you. And while individual agents won’t remember each caller, most contact centers have good CRM data. Use that information to call people by the names they prefer, use their favorite modes of communication and pick up seamlessly from the last conversation.
A real friend who makes a mistake accepts responsibility and apologizes. According to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business, call satisfaction jumped from 37% to 73% when complaining customers were treated with dignity, got an explanation of what went wrong, and received an apology.
Show customers you appreciate them.
We like to be with people who recognize our value. But 49% of customers who switch companies do so because they feel unappreciated. When people call in, acknowledge their effort and willingness to work with you. For example, agents can open with, “I see you’ve been with us for X years. Thank you!” They can also thank customers for their patience, positivity, and time.
2. Make it Easy
People love seeing a complex process operate smoothly. Consider the satisfaction of placing an online order with one click and having it delivered next day. When businesses boil difficult tasks down to one or two steps, it feels like magic.
Respect customers’ time.
Most people want to fix a problem or make a purchase and then get on with their lives. Respect their time by scheduling callbacks when queues are long or offering live chats from the website. And never ask a second time for information collected through the phone system or online.
Save them a step.
Save people work, and they’ll want to keep buying from you. For example, use a dynamic interactive voice response (IVR) system to create personalized menus based on caller needs. After complaint resolution or technical support, take the initiative and call back to ensure everything is OK.
3. Have Some Fun
Surprise customers with a little humor, where appropriate. Or if jokes hit the wrong tone, mix in some inspiration, fascination, or curiosity.
Many websites, like Forbes and Google, use wit or diversions to amuse viewers. Contact centers can do the same by sharing intriguing company history, inspiring stories, or interviews for people on hold.
The more a contact center clings to tired norms, the more forgettable the experience. Remove any clichéd phrases such as “your call is very important to us” or “you can also visit our website.” Switch to FAQs and knowledge bases rather than strict agent scripts, so conversations feel more sincere.
Upgrade the audio.
Wooden phone prompts and tinny music make wait time crawl. Have voice prompts professionally recorded and upgrade text-to-speech. Also, consider giving the phone voice an appealing personality. People get a kick out of talking with characters like Alexa and Siri.
4. Engage Agents
No one understands customers better than front-line representatives. Mine their knowledge regularly for new ways to create a memorable customer experience (CX).
Let agents work together on finding clever ways to upgrade CX. Employees can try out new ideas and help direct company-wide initiatives with first-hand knowledge.
The right people can make or break the service experience. Consider long-tenured agents that customers love. Identify their key personality traits and look for similar job applicants. Let some of those experienced agents interview new folks; they’ll have a good sense of whether someone is right for the job.
Engaged employees are more relaxed, happy, and proud of what they do, and they share that attitude with callers. It’s important to recognize and appreciate agents as much as customers. A recent McKinsey study also found that giving new representatives more support in early days and providing the team with opportunities to socialize improved engagement and retention.
According to a Walker study, 86% of consumers will pay more for a memorable interaction, and by 2020, experience will outweigh price and product as the key brand differentiator. If your contact center already treats customers well, it takes just a little effort and some imagination to go from ho-hum to unforgettable.
Chris Ryba, PMP, is the Director of Professional Services at VHT. As a seasoned technology professional with over 20 years experience in the IT/Telecom industry, Ryba has been actively involved in formulating processes, procedures, and guidelines intended to streamline project lifecycles from post-sale integration kickoff through production deployment.