Delivering the right customer experience (CX) is typically a top priority for businesses for good reason. According to international outsourcers CGS, 80% of consumers feel more emotionally connected to a brand when customer service solves their problem and 30% of consumers are willing to pay more for excellent service, a 6% increase over 2019. As a result, improving service levels is the top goal for 38% of contact centres in 2022.
There has never been a better time to truly listen to customers. Enhance and future-proof your customer service strategy with an effective Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme that captures, analyses and reports on all customer feedback. At the same time, help transform your agents into brand guardians with the power to influence customer perceptions of your products and services. After all, 97% of consumers say customer service interactions have an impact on customer loyalty.
Follow these tips and techniques to stay one step ahead of the competition:
1. Start with the basics—even the most advanced VoC strategies benefit from agent commentary so listen to your front-line team. After all, they know your customers best and often notice ongoing issues before their managers. Introduce easy-to-use platforms for agents to share critical, evolving issues in real-time.
Next, understand why customers are contacting you in the first place to highlight crucial improvement opportunities. It need not be a complicated affair. Three or 4 agents keeping written notes of popular reasons for contact are sufficient for smaller contact centres whereas large, complex operations might require more intelligent processes such as ticket tagging and contact categorisation along with intelligent, automated technology to match.
For example, speech analytics can indicate repeated phrases used in customer conversations to identify new or common failures within particular customer journeys. Meanwhile, sentiment analysis is able to predict customer emotions after a contact. If the emotion is negative, contact centres can proactively reach out and make amends.
2. Get to the heart of the problem—map out specific customer journeys and use VoC research to pinpoint moments that matter. At these vital touchpoints, get to grips with the people, processes and technology involved in supporting the customer. Then, design new solutions. Focus on quick wins that bring instant value such as setting up proactive alerts and reach-outs, self-service and online content enhancements, or coaching and policy changes. Above all, be collaborative and encourage other departments to join in. They may offer alternative solutions to improve customer outcomes, producing a win-win situation.
3. Gain insight across the entire customer journey—by gleaning information from an array of sources, not just endless surveys. Consider indirect feedback sources such as data and metrics from other departments, conversation recordings and transcripts, social listening and reviews on third-party sites, and customer actions on your company website.
Why not introduce an AI business intelligence (BI) solution to evaluate 100% of interactions? This brings a wealth of insights to help craft new responses and develop efficient processes that resolve customer issues. By collecting and structuring data from across the whole business, BI solutions quickly convert customer feedback into visually appealing information, highlighting new customer trends. This provides a single source of truth which every department can use to deliver better customer experiences.
4. Reduce intensity—dissatisfied customers often begin their interaction with an angry intensity. If agents gradually bring this down during the early stages, they can naturally calm the customer. To do so, coach agents to match the customer’s pace, volume and tone at the beginning of every conversation and slowly relax the intensity of each. That way, customers are more likely follow their lead. Store and flag examples where agents use this technique well within an automated performance coaching system. This is excellent for equipping trainers with the tools to teach this method to other agents including new joiners.
5. Acknowledge, empathise, and refocus—when a customer vents their frustration or is angry, it is easy for agents to become flustered and forget the first rule of customer service—to listen closely. Keep agents calm and composed by reviewing interactions with dissatisfied customers and offering resilience coaching. Discuss what the agent did well and isolate best practices. Typically, these include showing acknowledgement and empathy:
– Acknowledgement is not just saying, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience.” Instead, the agent must take time and refer back to the issue. As an example, perhaps the problem is a late delivery. In this case, the agent could reply, “Late deliveries are not acceptable.”
– Follow this up with empathy. Tailoring a statement, such as, “It sounds very frustrating,” to the situation often works well, allowing agents to clarify that they were listening closely and are human too.
– Then, focus on the positive and the resolution. The phrase: “Let’s see how we can put this right,” may do the trick.
Blend process and technology with the right training to build an effective VoC programme. For more ideas on how to master the art of listening, visit www.calabrio.com or download our latest report “State of the Contact Centre 2022: Empowering the contact centre as a brand guardian”.