4 Ways Contact Center Agents can Build Customer Loyalty


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april1 4 Ways Contact Center Agents can Build Customer LoyaltyHere’s what we know about cus­tomers and your business’s bot­tom line: retain­ing exist­ing cus­tomers is less expen­sive than woo­ing new ones.  How do busi­nesses keep their cus­tomers loyal to their brand or prod­uct? By pro­vid­ing qual­ity cus­tomer expe­ri­ences that incen­tivize cus­tomers to stick with you. Accord­ing to an arti­cle in Har­vard Busi­ness Review, you don’t have to do a dog and pony show to sat­isfy cus­tomers, you sim­ply must ensure you’re not pro­vid­ing them with neg­a­tive cus­tomer expe­ri­ences and giv­ing them rea­sons to defect.

Con­tact agents are on the front line of cus­tomer ser­vice deliv­ery so train­ing is espe­cially impor­tant to ensure con­sis­tent, effi­cient and qual­ity cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. The chal­lenge asso­ci­ated with con­tact cen­ters is they often expe­ri­ence high turnover and low morale. In all our years of work­ing with var­i­ous con­tact cen­ters we have found that when an orga­ni­za­tion is atten­tive to cre­at­ing a respect­ful, engag­ing cul­ture it is less likely to expe­ri­ence exces­sive turnover and low spir­its. Essen­tially if your com­pany wants to retain cus­tomers, it must also work to retain employ­ees. Happy employ­ees often leads to happy cus­tomers. Think Zap­pos and Telus Inter­na­tional. Both com­pa­nies are good exam­ples of focus­ing as much on their com­pany cul­ture and by exten­sion, cus­tomer loy­alty.  If you’re think­ing that your con­tact cen­ter is too small and doesn’ t have the bud­get of Zap­pos and Telus, there are still a num­ber of ways you can cre­ate an atmos­phere of respect, inspi­ra­tion and growth with­out break­ing the bank. Let’s look at a few.

  1. Soft Skills—before your agent can sell, diag­nose or trou­bleshoot he or she must first pos­sess some basic eti­quette skills. Cus­tomers are more likely to respond favor­ably if they feel they can trust the per­son they are inter­act­ing with. Man­ners, tone and per­son­al­iza­tion of mes­sage are all soft skills that go a long way to pro­vid­ing qual­ity cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Train­ing your agent on devel­op­ing these skills should include: how to remain calm when inter­act­ing with chal­leng­ing cus­tomers, being hon­est when talk­ing about dead­lines or offers so as to avoid over promis­ing and under deliv­er­ing, and thank­ing the cus­tomer at the end of the call. Of course, this list can be expanded, but focus­ing on the basics ensures a base­line, qual­ity inter­ac­tion each and every time.
  1. Active Listening—training agents in the art of active lis­ten­ing pays off quickly. When agents actively lis­ten they are bet­ter able to iden­tify the source of the customer’s frus­tra­tion and seek to find a quick and appro­pri­ate res­o­lu­tion. When cus­tomers feel that they are truly being heard they feel more trust with the agent and tend to artic­u­late their needs more clearly. Some of the attrib­utes of active lis­ten­ing include atten­tive­ness, respon­sive­ness and perceptiveness.
  1. Authenticity—when agents are allowed to “keep it real” with cus­tomers, often the out­comes are pos­i­tive and employ­ees and cus­tomers feel more sat­is­fied. More and more cus­tomers are shun­ning canned mes­sages and “sac­cha­rine” inter­ac­tions with agents. Empow­er­ing agents to be authen­tic requires train­ing, par­tic­u­larly if they’ve been pre­vi­ously trained to always repeat boil­er­plate mes­sages. Telus Inter­na­tional has had great suc­cess with giv­ing agents the author­ity to ser­vice cus­tomers as they see fit through their “Moment of Truth” pro­gram, which empow­ers agents to go “off script” and solve the customer’s issues the best way they see fit. Of course, this pro­gram is suc­cess­ful  in part because agents are required to doc­u­ment their deci­sion mak­ing processes so that man­agers can eval­u­ate their efforts and results.
  1.  Qual­ity Assurance—there is no need to rein­vent the wheel when it comes to com­pa­nies that have effec­tive qual­ity assur­ance pro­grams. Zap­pos cre­ated a Full-Circle Feed­back pro­gram that is made up of five com­po­nents. These include:  Ser­vice observations
  • Self-evaluations
  • Cal­i­bra­tions checks
  • Shar­ing great call successes
  • Net pro­moter score feedback

The win-win of a strong qual­ity assur­ance pro­gram is that it cre­ates a cul­ture of care and cel­e­brates the suc­cesses of employ­ees based on deliv­er­ing excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice. It makes sense that Zap­pos is a sought after com­pany to work for and are viewed so favor­ably by customers.

Devel­op­ing a com­pany cul­ture that fos­ters team­work, cel­e­brates suc­cess, and encour­ages per­sonal and pro­fes­sional growth cre­ates an envi­ron­ment that allows agents to deliver qual­ity cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Cre­at­ing such a work­place doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily require a big bud­get, but it does require plan­ning and sup­port from the top down. When employ­ees feel respected in their work­place they are more likely to deliver cus­tomer expe­ri­ences that fos­ter loy­alty. When all is said and done, what’s good for the employee is good for the customer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodi Beuder
We help organizations create a positive connection between customers and brands. We promote synergy through integration as it builds on the decades of collective history of renowned expertise. MHI Global is your comprehensive source for customer-management excellence solutions to compete in today's ever-changing, customer-centric environment.


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