BPA Featured Article

Think Customer Frustration Has Nothing to do with Jargon, Culture and Tone? Think Again

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
January 10, 2013

The call center is one location where jargon is common. Managers want to measure FCR, the IT department manages the backend of the ACD and customers often complete specific steps of the transaction by way of the IVR. While these acronyms are common in the call center setting, customers don’t understand the terminology and -- for the most part -- don’t care.

There are a number of reasons why a customer may place a call into a call center. He or she may want to purchase a product or service, find the resolution to a billing problem, ask a question, or complete some other task. If the customer is instead met with an agent speaking in terms the customer can’t understand, the backlash has the potential to be significant.

To measure whether or not this is taking place within the call center, 3rd party remote call monitoring is useful. It can capture interactions, allow managers to listen to selected calls and note what is happening in specific conversations when a customer leaves the call before completion. If a customer disconnects the call due to frustration over the message relayed by the agent, the problem needs to be identified and corrected.

For years, customers have reported “difficulty understanding the agent” as a problem when interacting with a call center, but that generally involved an agent in another country whose accent was too thick for seamless communications. Jargon in the customer conversation can have the same effect. 3rd party remote monitoring should be used to identify whether or not customers are leaving a company because they feel alienated by the call center agent when trying to receive service.

In BPA’s Quality Blog, a recent post highlighted just how easily jargon enters into the standard call center conversation. Even new employees will have difficulty understanding the jargon and associated acronyms, which can cause frustration for a new agent. When jargon is used with a customer, he or she may end the call and never call again, place another call for the same problem or simply become frustrated with the agent and transfer that frustration to his or her perception of the company.

The same is true for multilingual call centers, as mentioned above. This TMCnet article, however, takes the issue one step further, examining the impact cultural differences can have on the interactions in a call center. For instance, if a company outsources its multilingual calls to a call center in the Philippines and its 3rd party remote call monitoring is based Egypt, how could the true customer culture be understood? In the process, the customer experience isn’t accurately measured.

Likewise, the tone used in the customer interaction can make or break the customer experience. The agent berating the competition to the customer on the phone is often perceived by the customer as an insult. No one likes comments that suggest a decision they made was stupid. Whether it’s a comment about the competition or a mistake the customer made in using a product or setting up a new application, any tone used to suggest their actions caused the problem can immediately severe the relationship.

When communicating with the call center customer, the most effective approach is for the agent to put himself in the shoes of the customer, creating the optimal experience to preserve the relationship for years to come.

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Edited by Rich Steeves