We’ve all been there. After trying our best to solve a problem or answer a question on our own, we find ourselves faced with the only option left: calling customer service. With hesitation or perhaps even dread, we dial the toll free number and brace for what we expect will be a less-than-pleasant experience.
Unfortunately, call centers have developed a universal reputation for providing sub-par service. The company’s representatives may not convey empathy, accountability or be empowered to actually solve customers’ problems. This is particularly unnerving for the customers calling their bank, health care provider or insurance company because, most likely, the reason they are calling is personally-impacting; in other words, the stakes are higher for customers contacting these industries.
I have worked in operations in the health and financial services industries for the past 20 years. After having listened to hundreds, if not thousands, of customer and patient calls with company representatives, I have become enlightened by how powerful and transformational those customer contacts can be.
Over the course of my years observing, 3 key ingredients have emerged as the most effective at transforming the customer experience within call centers:
People want to feel understood. When contact center representatives demonstrate true understanding of the perspective of their customer, it immediately creates a sense of reassurance and relief for the person who is calling. Leaders can promote an empathetic culture when they themselves, 1) demonstrate empathy towards their teams and; 2) give their representatives time off the phone to get to know the perspective of their customer. There are a number of creative simulation activities and customer immersion programs that business leaders can deploy to serve as a catalyst for authentic empathy.
Apologies are powerful transformers, but only when they are sincerely conveyed. This can be a challenge for contact center representatives who may frequently have to apologize on behalf of their company. Leaders are wise to spend time getting to know the reasons why customers are unhappy. Even better, companies should have a consistent process for harvesting these insights and swiftly developing solutions to their customers’ problems. Doing so will encourage their contact center representatives to apologize with sincerity and confidence, because they know that their company cares enough to uncover and resolve root-cause issues.
Many companies consider their customer contact center positions to be entry level. That does not mean, however, that these positions should have no authority to solve customer problems. Companies can empower their representatives by designing authority levels and training their teams on when and how they can solve their customers’ problems. Utilize your call monitoring program to listen for adherence to the guidelines and provide feedback if the representatives are over-or-under utilizing the policy.
Business leaders have the ability to transform the way both their customer and representative perceive their brand, values and culture, when they allow those human-to-human interactions to be more, well…. human. I welcome you to reach out if you are interested in how AuthentiCx helps companies achieve transformational customer contact centers.