Customer care continues to emerge as a significant contributor to the overall success of companies across many different industries. Companies choosing to invest in improved contact center CX recognize it as a key differentiator to their business - in fact, some companies are seeing it as a competitive advantage.
Call center agents are at the forefront of this movement. In many ways, these professionals represent the tone and voice of the company. Not only are they often the first to speak to customers, but they bear the weight of responsibility to ensure that these interactions are satisfactory - both from a compliance perspective and from a customer experience perspective.
We cannot overstate the essential nature of the call center and how much it impacts a company’s success. Each interaction represents a moment in the customer journey. Mapping these journeys to truly understand what your customers need and when they need it is not an easy task, but a necessary one.
Contact Center Training to Improve Call Center Experience
These are touchpoints that allow chances for upselling, of course, but are also opportunities to create goodwill, earn trust, and use agent soft skills to develop an emotional connection with customers. Something that very few other departments have the ability to accomplish for your brand. It is critical, therefore, to train your agents to recognize these moments along the customer journey by training the agents’ soft skills. Yet, soft skills (like empathy) as opposed to hard skills (like bookkeeping) can be hard to measure and evaluate. So how do you train for skills and abilities that are by definition difficult to measure? Having the right processes and being persistent makes a big difference in helping your team improve. As well, the hiring process is important as onboarding agents with skills from the outset will make the entire process of training and execution much easier.
Monitoring and measuring this emotional connection between call center agents and customers will empower companies to know what works best and what actions they need to take to improve. The goal is always to enhance the quality of the call center customer experience, but the question remains, how can this emotional connection best be developed and nurtured throughout the customer’s journey?
How To Develop An Emotional Connection Between Agents and Customers
The first way to improve the emotional connection between agents and customers is to measure the contact center customer experience. Getting a baseline to know where you stand is critical to growth. To begin:
- Set call center measurement goals.
- Clearly communicate those goals.
- Perform quality assurance monitoring.
- Invite agents to self-score their experiences.
Perhaps the most impactful action that may be taken is to empower your call center agents. Suggesting that your team adopt self-scoring and measures for personal improvement will help them understand and support the company’s overall goals. Clear communication with call center agents will result in those agents clearly communicating to your customers.
A study conducted by Kiffin-Petersen and Soutar shows that more effective customer service occurs when personal initiative is undertaken by people working with customers. It is best practice to encourage your call center agents to take personal initiative, enabling them with the flexibility to creatively problem-solve.
This type of call center environment results in enhanced customer-oriented behavior that leads to creating actual emotional connection as an enabler of better call center experience .
How Can Agent Behaviors Affect Contact Center CX?
With a more thorough understanding of the customer journey combined with clarity on company, call center, and personal goals, call center agents can be armed to exceed customer expectations.
We know that customers rate quality better when agents employ the following customer-oriented behaviors:
- Anticipate customer requests
A call center with efficient measurement and management in place will be able to recognize trends and pinpoint patterns along the customer journey. When an agent can anticipate customer requests, they shorten the time to call resolution. The customer feels connected and cared for resulting in overall greater customer satisfaction.
- Deliver explanations and justifications
Providing facts, explanations, and justifications helps to provide customers with greater context. More knowledge helps customers understand what is happening, why, and how it can be resolved. Over-communication can be encouraged. Ensuring that customers have the facts, thoroughly understand the situation and challenges-at-hand, and are prepared for next steps will help improve the emotional connection between agents and customers for better contact center CX.
- Educate customers
Teachable moments about your company’s products and procedures can and should be shared with customers when appropropriate. Customers will likely appreciated leaving a customer service call with more knowledge than when it began. Opportunities to educate customers about the culture of your company and its commitment to customer service initiatives should also not be missed. With proper training, call center agents should have top-notch knowledge about corporate objectives and strategies. They should be encouraged to share this knowledge as teachers or advisors, promoting a consistent message.
- Provide emotional support
A little empathy goes a long way in most relationships and the relationship between call center agents and customers is no different. Listening and letting customers know you hear and understand their challenge puts them at ease and helps you connect in a way that encourages them to be more optimistic about the outcome.
- Offer personal information
Personal information can be a basic tool in the agent’s kit. Call center agents should be encouraged to discuss things like the weather, their city, new company initiatives, and other personal anecdotes as appropriate. Keep in mind that customers call to talk to a person and not to a machine, so being personable is always encouraged when aiming to create an emotional connection.
Be Authentic. Get Off Script
Call scripts do not work well. Why? Because customers can tell when a call center agent is using a script. It creates an inauthentic and untrustworthy experience. It also puts your agents in a compromised position. Scripting only serves to hamper agent autonomy, and without the ability to go off script, agents might get flustered when conversations do not go according to plan. It offers them no power to create a genuine connection and instead widens the gap between the two parties. Train to encourage a connection in conversation, not in writing and memorizing bad scripts, in order to improve call center experience .
Creating an emotional connection between call center agents and customers is essential. Each call should be treated as a critical moment along the customer journey and an opportunity to build equity in the lifetime value of that customer. Continue to empower your customer service team with greater responsibilities that enable them to build emotional connections with your customers.
Measuring and managing this emotional connection will help your organization expedite this process is a systematic way. Start a free trial with no obligation to begin enhancing the customer experience at your company in immediately actionable ways.