Call Center Management Feature Article
July 22, 2014
Ridding the Contact Center of Bad Customer Interaction Habits
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
There is a host of contact center research that reminds us what customers find most annoying. At the top of the list are rude or unhelpful agents. Following that is the need to repeat themselves over and over again after getting transferred around. Being given incorrect information is also a bit peeve, as is navigating through a frustrating or difficult-to-use interactive voice response (IVR) system.
Despite the fact that these factors are well known, many companies are still guilty of them. They focus on the company’s needs rather than the customer’s needs, or they simply lack the technological resources to provide a good customer experience.
Though your contact center may have conquered some of the common problems – you run a true omnichannel customer support center that focuses on the customers’ needs and preferences and offers a personalized experience every time, with high first-call resolution metrics – you may still be guilty of some errors that are common to contact centers. Often, these problems are less about technology and more about where the agent meets the customer, according to a recent blog post by Sales Improvement Group’s Greg Schryer.
For starters, nothing irritates customers more than the sense they’re not being listened to. Agents take a lot of calls each day, they may believe they’ve developed a sixth sense about what customers are calling about, cutting them off before they’re finished explaining and offering resolutions that may not match the customer’s needs. Ensure that agents know to finish listening to customers and be sure they grasp the real issue before they take action.
Another error, writes Schryer, is passing the blame internally. An aggravated customer is not an easy thing to deal with. Agents may be tempted to pass the blame for the problem onto another department (“The warehouse must have goofed in the shipping address! They’re always doing that!”). This is counter-productive, Schryer writes. Train agents to take responsibility for the entire organization.
One of the most critical issues, however, is making sure agents understand that disagreeing with the customer will never work…even when the customer is wrong.
“At one time or other, every agent is going to want to disagree with the customer, especially a difficult one,” writes Schryer. “When customers are wrong it may be hard for call center staff to avoid giving out the wrong impression and actually agreeing that the customer is incorrect, but the negative effect of conveying that message far outweighs the small satisfaction the agent may get.”
The best contact centers are those the managers are active in, spending more than half their days walking the floors, listening and spot coaching. If the managers spend all their times in their offices, this should raise a red flag. A manager who isn’t present can’t figure out and correct agent bad habits, some of which are detailed above. While technology is important, it can never be considered a replacement for the human touch.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi