Fixing the Biggest Roadblocks to Customer Support Excellence
No company sets out to provide bad customer service. But the contact center is a machine with many moving parts, and keeping track of all of them is a difficult job. Call center management can only be in so many places at the same time, and it’s impractical to expect that they can look over agents’ shoulders during every working moment.
Still, if the quality of your customer support is less-than-stellar, you need to take immediate steps to improve it or risk losing customers. Most customers today know what a great customer experience feels like, and they’ll know quickly that you’re not meeting the standards. So while it’s of course impossible for you to tune up every moving part of your contact center by next week, there are some immediate steps you can take to shore up quality, according to a recent article by Micah Solomon writing for Forbes.
Get the basics down. Help your agents understand the minimum of what you expect from them. Perhaps it’s a warm greeting for the customer, good listening when the customer is speaking and positive language.
Positive language. Instead of choosing confrontational language, reformulate standard script elements to be more positive. “You owe us $37” sounds confrontation. “I’m showing a balance in your account of $37” sounds helpful.
Hire enough agents. Sure, it’s tempting to cut expenses in the short term by working with a skeleton crew. But skeleton crews have never provided great customer support. Even if you have terrific and skilled agents, customers are still getting angry while waiting to speak with them.
Set an example. Solomon notes that many contact center agents simply don’t know what great customer support looks like.
“Sometimes, well-meaning employees simply have no idea how good customer service can be because they’ve never experienced it themselves, or because they weren’t paying attention when they did,” he wrote. “So take a field trip to a Nordstrom, a Marriott, an Apple (News - Alert) Store, a Starbucks, and pay attention to how it’s done.”
Ensure your infrastructure is good. If agents are having to hunt through multiple disconnected databases to find answers, or toggle back and forth between too many screens on their desktop, they’re never going to be able to provide a good customer experience. Sure, new solutions can eat into capital (or operating expenses, in the case of cloud-based solutions). But lost customers WILL eat into profits.
Search for the roadblocks. Chances are, there are a few major areas where the customer experience goes wrong. Solomon notes that it’s commonly in transfers and queue management.
“The most common place people drop the ball is on the handoffs: when one employee or department cedes ownership of a customer inquiry to another,” he wrote. “But sometimes it’s even more simple, and just as disastrous: You’re not noticing when customer queries (or even orders!) come in, or if you do, you fail to get those queries into the queue. So, do whatever you can to systematically address these gaps, and do it now.”
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to become LL Bean overnight. But if you address the major barriers to customer support excellence, you’ll be able to fine-tune the other elements that ultimately add up to a great customer experience.
Edited by Alicia Young