What separates Which’s best and worst brands?

12th Sep 2019

Which has recently revealed its list of UK’s Best and worst brands for customer service in 2019. While the top-ranking brands were from a mix of industries – including a bank, retailers and a supermarket – four out of the bottom five places were filled by utilities providers.

This got me thinking. Why is there such a discrepancy in the ability to deliver a satisfactory customer service across industries? What sets them apart?

Perhaps it’s about the nature of the enquiry. In all fairness, making a complaint about your bill, or trying to get your money back for a delayed flight, is usually more complex than returning a pair of trousers to your local M&S. Or is it the ability to interact with someone face to face when you visit your local bank or a supermarket?

Is it your Contact Centre then?

It’s true that your agents don’t have an easy job. People are generally happier to deal with their queries in person. Research shows that 55% of a message is delivered by body language. So, calls to a contact centre have over half of the meaning of the message lost to the agent and the customer. This makes it all the more important that your agents have the tools they need to truly understand where the customer is coming from through their tone and words, so that they can be empathetic and deliver a great experience.

But delivering a good quality service via contact centre interactions does not need to be different, or more difficult than in person. If done right, and with the help of appropriate tools, it can really help bring you closer to your customers.

Here are my three top tips for delivering a customer experience via your contact centre that could make you one of Which’s champion brands:

  1. Empower your agents to set the right tone of voice on the call 
    At the start of this blog I mentioned that 55% of a message comes from body language. Almost all the rest (38%) comes from the tone of voice used. It’s therefore essential that call centre agents are aware of the tone and words that they use and also changes in the tone of voice of the customer. Speech or Interaction Analytics solutions, that offer real-time call monitoring, can identify changes in the acoustics of a customer’s voice. If a change in tone suggests the call is deteriorating, an automatic alert can be sent to guide the agent to adjust their vocal style or say something to calm the situation. It can also alert a supervisor who could intervene if needed. This can be the difference between a customer leaving the call angry and leaving feeling that they have been listened to.
  2. Make empathy one of your key customer outcomes
    Feeling that you are treated with empathy can really make a difference when dealing with a contact centre agent. Interaction Analytics can give agents the information they need to improve their customer-handling skills and behaviour. For example, by combining call recording data with acoustic data, it is possible to measure key emotional content, such as showing empathy. It is also possible to identify trends in the data, for example key words and phrases that create a positive emotional connection with customers. You can make showing empathy one of your key agent behaviours. If you provide each agent with a daily, personalised scorecard that identifies their performance against a range of key behaviours - empathy, ownership etc - it makes it easier for them to focus on delivering the right experience. It also enables them to be in control of their own improvement by setting very specific improvement goals for each shift and to ask for coaching assistance if they need it.
  3. Don’t let adherence to a script be a barrier to a positive emotional connection
    By capturing and analysing every interaction, it is possible to identify if processes designed to deliver a good experience are having the reverse effect. For example, if an agent’s strict adherence to a script bypasses common sense, it could cause anything but customer delight. When trying to establish an emotional connection with the customer, agents should be able to use their emotional intelligence to decide when departing from the script will lead to a better customer outcome. For example, if a customer who has not had their problem resolved is asked: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today’, it is likely to be met with a negative response. Unsurprisingly this lack of common sense is unlikely to deliver a successful call outcome as the customer hasn’t been helped yet. If the analytics identifies this is happening, you can change your processes and also coach your agents to deliver a better experience.

So, that’s my top three. I’ll share four others in my next blog. Do you agree? Or if you’d like to discuss improving your customer service why not get a conversation going by commenting on this blog.

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