It Pays for Call Center Management to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence
Companies today spend a lot of money on analytics to measure and manage their customer engagement. They like to know how sales are affected by marketing campaigns, for example, or new product or service debuts. They may wish to measure how customers respond to a new website design or current efforts from the sales department.
While there is value to all of this, it’s important to remember that what may really be driving sales are things that can’t be attached to numbers. Research from McKinsey has found that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated by the company and the contact center representative. There’s no button to click on sales or marketing automation software that reads, “Make customers feel good about themselves and their purchase.” That needs to be done artfully through great call center management.
While every contact center has a responsibility to provide agents with the right tools and resources to do their jobs, there is evidence that one of the most critical skills an agent can have is emotional maturity. This allows agents to read the customers’ moods and respond with the actions most likely to improve the customer experience. Just as you can’t order “customer feel-good” from your software, you can’t order emotional maturity from the staffing agency that hires your reps.
“There's more to customer service than answering phones when they ring,” wrote Chelsea Cafiero for CE Pro. “It's what you say when you pick up that phone that makes all the difference.”
So how do you train your agents for emotional maturity? It involves a lot more than simply showing them how to use the telephony software and solutions on their desktop, or pointing them in the right direction of databases with answers. Call center management should be training reps by walking them through a variety of call types, including angry customer, cancelling service customer, confused customer and passive-aggressive-and-unsure-of-the-problem customer.
Angry and cancelling customers can be mollified by an empathetic agent who takes the time to listen to the customer and offers real solutions to fix the problems. For confused or passive-aggressive customers, agents should have the skills to lead the customer with questions to determine exactly what the problem is. Most of all, customers want to feel that companies are taking their concerns, anger, questions or problems seriously, and that starts with an agent who is effective at managing customer relationships. Consider creating simulations that can help agents learn the right way to deal with customers.
Finally, it’s important to provide agents with autonomy to do their jobs. Even the most emotionally mature agents won’t be effective if they are following overly restrictive rules that don’t allow them to actually do anything concrete to retain customer relationships.
Edited by Alicia Young