A recent eConsultancy report suggests that the values of the modern marketplace emerged for the first time in Europe around the year 1,000 AD. Mark W. Schaefer, Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and author of the report, maintains that the foundations of the ultimate customer experience were created in these medieval marketplaces.
Sound strange? It shouldn’t. Medieval markets involved villages competing with other villages for commerce, which mandated highly personalized interactions, prompt service, word of mouth recommendations, and personal connections, many of the things we associate with today’s customer experience.
There are many ways to approach customer experience management, but, when it comes right down to it, these basic tenets still apply to providing the types of experiences that will satisfy customers. Nowhere is this more important than in the call center, where agents interface with customers 24/7. Here’s a look at 5 simple, time-tested ways to help agents provide better experiences for their customers:
1. Positive attitude
It goes without saying that customer service agents should strive to maintain a positive attitude when dealing with customers. In the case of customer calls that have quickly escalated, however, this can be easier said than done.
One way for agents to put forth an air of positivity (that will ultimately lead to a better experience for the customer) is to simply smile – even if only over the phone! A Call Centre Helper article notes that this small gesture works to not only delight customers but to encourage a “how can I go above and beyond?” attitude with agents.
2. Proper feedback
Even during medieval times, feedback on quality, service, and pricing was constant and immediate. “If somebody felt wrong or cheated, you knew it right away,” says Mark Schaefer in the eConsultancy report. “This real-time feedback loop allowed for constant adjustments to products, service, and quality.”
Nowadays, with customers expecting prompt responses to their concerns and questions, it’s especially important for agents to receive feedback on their performance so they can make adjustments as needed. Real-time call monitoring software such as CallMiner’s myEureka delivers immediate performance feedback, which can help managers get a better idea of which agents are performing well versus those who need additional coaching.
3. Product knowledge
One of the most important aspects of successful customer service revolves around product knowledge. In other words, any and all agents who have direct customer contact should know the company’s product and/or service inside and out.
In many cases, developing robust product knowledge involves managers helping agents build their confidence so they’re motivated to succeed. To do this, managers might try mapping out their assessment of an agent’s product knowledge and compare it against the agent’s, identifying any gaps that exist and making it easier to put together a professional development plan for the future.
Delivering an exceptional customer experience is about more than just customer service. With customers increasingly using multiple channels (email, social, live chat, SMS, etc.) to communicate with companies, it’s critical for agents to be able to provide a consistent customer experience across channels.
As noted in a 360Connext article on multi-channel support, “We are at the TIP of the iceberg here. Customers not only expect [companies] to support them on their terms, but they expect [organizations] to support them across different channels seamlessly.” For call centers in particular, this means developing a 360 degree view of the customer, capturing customer interactions across channels, dedicating agent teams to social customer support, and more.
5. Level head
As noted in a Business2Community article on call center conversations, it’s important for both agents and callers to keep a level head during when interacting over the phone or other channels. There are a variety of reasons for this, the most crucial being that successful resolution of a customer problem involves working together to solve it.
“Losing your cool doesn’t do anybody any good,” as stated in the article. “Yeah, it makes you feel better for about 15 seconds, but remember that the person you’re talking to is standing between you and your objective.” To stay calm during call center conversations, security consultant Eric Harne uses a “Zen Call Taking” approach that involves understanding that he’s in control of only himself and his reactions to others, not their reactions to him.
While the marketplace may have evolved considerably since 1,000 A.D., one thing has remained unchanged: Delivering a positive customer experience is crucial to successful customer service. As outlined above, there are many ways to help customer service agents provide better experiences for their customers.
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