The Customer Experience: How Do They Know We Care?
If you asked your customers what matters most when it comes to getting a QUALITY experience from your contact center, most likely they would tell you two things: 1). Getting a quick and accurate response, and 2). Talking to someone who actually cares. I’ll leave the first one to you since it involves thorough product and systems training, along with being informed on the day-to-day updates and nuances of your products and services. In my experience working with contact centers all over the world, the majority of time spent in new hire training and subsequent quality coaching is dedicated to product, service, and internal processes training. What we continue to struggle with is how to show our customers that we care — about them and their experience with our product and service.
While there is no magic formula that ensures your frontline staff will care about your customers and better yet, show it(!), there are some things you can do to move the caring needle in the direction of your caller.
- Hire the right person. I like to refer to this as hiring frontline agents who exemplify a “heart of service.” During the interview process, ask several “how did it feel?” add-on questions. For example, “Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult caller successfully.” Once you hear the candidate’s response, follow up with, “and how did it feel?” What you are looking for in their response is a genuine sentiment of caring and concern toward the customer. If their response is all about them (for example, “I was just glad to get them off the phone”), then that should be a red flag. Making the right hire is crucial. You can teach people your company’s product and services, but it’s nearly impossible to train them to care.
- Showing “I care” to a customer. Begin with listening, not just for the facts but the caller’s underlying emotion related to those facts. As a training activity, play back a sample of recorded calls where your customers are clearly expressing emotion. Ask the class to listen and list the emotion(s) they hear from the caller. If you are working with agents who are already on the floor taking calls, you can do this same activity during your quality monitoring coaching sessions.
- Replay the call and as part of your de-brief call discussion, ask the agent what emotion is being expressed by the caller (for example: frustrated, upset, fearful, embarrassed, excited, hopeful, and so on). Remember, the first step to show our customers we care is to heighten our listening skills.
- Communicating “I care” to a customer. Show empathy. Once your agents are in the practice of listening and spotting customer’s underlying emotions, now it’s time to execute empathetic responses. Note that empathy does not mean feeling as the customer feels. Rather, it is acknowledging another’s expressed emotion. Here are some examples:
- “Mr. Lopez, I understand how difficult this has been for you.”
- “Yes, I hear how concerned you are about getting this fixed in time for your trip
- “How awful, I’m so sorry to hear this has happened.”
When we acknowledge what our customers are going through, in essence we are validating them. There is no greater way to let another know you understand and care. When our customers experience our genuine care and concern for them, they are more inclined to let down their guard and let us in to help. Showing that we care builds trust and rapport which are the cornerstones to building a relationship with others.
I invite you to join us for the upcoming Quality Excellence Web Series where we will be discussing ways to create a quality monitoring program that allows you to evaluate and coach call performance standards that matter to your customers, such as showing them you care!
Deelee Freeman is the Founder and Director of Call Center Training Associates, providing training and consulting services for call centers. www.callcentertrainingassociates.com. She can be reached at 404-630-2156 or firstname.lastname@example.org