Many companies claim they focus on “delighting” their customers. Of those, how many can really say their most important assets—their customers—are actually “delighted” by their call center experience?
While you may be the very best at providing a product or service, your reputation and how you are perceived can hinge on how satisfied your customers are after they walk away from their call center experience with your representatives. Look no further than cable giant Comcast. To their credit, according to a 2016 study by American Satisfaction Index, Comcast has shown improvement. However, many still cringe at the thought of picking up the phone and dreadfully dialing 1-800-COMCAST.
Luckily there is a science behind ensuring your customers hang up delighted, which will essentially make them advocates for your business. Here are 5 best practices to give you some direction and help you excel in customer service.
1. Rules are Meant to be Broken
We’ve all heard the phrase “the customer is king,” but we also know there are times when a customer’s request is unreasonable. This is why policies are established for staff to follow as they interact with customers. While there is real value in policies or rules that create consistent expected customer experiences, an organization should also design processes and procedures that allow employees enough freedom to exceed customer expectations when it is the “right” decision.
We recently saw the mess created by a large national airline where individuals making decisions were more concerned with following the company rules than feeling empowered to do what was right for the customer. Employees should be empowered to provide an amazing customer experience and it will pay dividends. Let their focus be on how they “delight” a customer within the guidelines they are given
2. Build a Holistic Customer Interaction Quality Program
The old days of judging individual phone calls or emails to score against a set of criteria are gone. It is no longer enough to judge how well individual customer interactions meet requirements if we are only looking at one part of their interaction (i.e. the talk time with an agent).
Instead, quality scores should look at the complete customer interaction from beginning to end.
- What was their experience while navigating the IVR?
- How long did they wait in queue?
- Did they get transferred before being helped?
- How many times did they have to call?
- Was their issue resolved, etc.?
Simply put, define quality experience as how well the WHOLE interaction meets the customer requirements.
3. Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Improvement never ends. Customer requirements are a living animal, ever changing and evolving. Thus, call center representatives should identify current customer requirements, then build a continuous improvement effort around refining performance and anticipating future needs.
The easiest way to predict these future needs is by listening to feedback—and not just from your customers, but from your employees as well. They can offer terrific insight on the thoughts and feelings of your customer base. Analytics and BI are also essential, playing an ever increasing and important role in driving positive changes. Actionable data is no longer a “nice to have”.
4. Invest in Front Line Leadership
This doesn’t mean you need to go out and find some big ticket executive. Invest in the resources that you already have within your walls. Establish solid staff training and mentor programs for your front line leaders. A transparent and outlined career path will go a long way in motivating and getting the best out of your leadership.
It’s also important to create opportunities for leaders to thrive outside of day-to-day management of the call center. Encourage them to champion continuous improvement projects and initiatives. Offer them training outside the day-to-day functions of their jobs.
5. Understand Employee Motivation
Never underestimate the power of motivated employees and their impact on customer satisfaction. A customer can tell immediately if your team is happy and engaged. It comes through over the phone, just as it would in person.
Remember that every employee is motivated differently, so don’t be afraid to discuss the topic with them. Ask them for their input. Research has shown over and over that it is not only about money. Get to know your staff and what their triggers are. Being able to have an open conversation about their level of satisfaction will allow you the opportunity to tailor your recognition programs to get the best out of your staff.
Sure, there are many other best practices to achieve customer satisfaction. Nonetheless, with a culture of professional growth, a focus on processes and methodologies that encourage continuous improvement, and through empowering employees you’ll create a solid foundation. Lastly, if you outsource your contact center services it’s even more critical that their best practices line up with your strategies and objectives.