Do customers need more empathy? How do you know? The 29 Quality Assurance Mistakes to Avoid e-book and self-assessment includes the question “Do you include the customers’ rating of agents’ empathy to their situation as part of your current quality process?” The e-book contains reflective questions designed to uncover opportunities with Quality Assurance programs within contact centers. Identifying opportunities or detecting weaknesses is a critical step on the journey to elevate your contact center to one of undeniable importance to the organization. Let’s not get too focused on finding answers in a benchmarking report. Find your own path to excellence by leveraging your Quality Assurance program. No one has resources to waste on the assumed outcomes from a benchmark study. This e-book was designed to help you become a leader and not a follower and get a better understanding of empathy and several other topics associated with contact center quality.
Do customers need more empathy or not?
Is your contact center in the business of building and enhancing relationships with customers? Yes, of course, what a dumb question. Your center is a relationship ambassador, a good steward of the brand, and all activities are focused on that outcome (at a reasonable cost). A connection with the customer, i.e., trust in your agents, is paramount to achieving your goal, but a connection is a subjective trait and entirely dependent on your customers’ assessment. If you aren’t able to understand if customers need more empathy by having them measure it, you are not quantifying it correctly and thus cannot prove or disprove the importance of empathy to solidify the relationship.
You may be measuring things, but you are likely missing this critical dimension in your analysis. Case and point is the experience I just had with Verizon. Two weeks ago, my office phone stopped working so a repair order was opened for a Wednesday afternoon. No one showed up or fixed the phone line. Upon calling the contact center at 7 pm, I was told that I was a day early to expect them despite the fact that I put it on my calendar while making the appointment and their automated message called in the morning to verify the technician’s arrival time between noon and 5 pm. The agent in the contact center said that she was sorry, while still insisting that I and their automated schedule verification process was wrong about the appointment time. Sorry didn’t cut it because it was not genuine attempt at understanding my situation.
A week later on a Monday, two phone lines go out so we went to Verizon.com to open a repair order on one line and cannot get the system to do the second line. The first available appointment is on Thursday 8-12 so we take it. On Tuesday morning, I called to get the second number added to the repair order and find out that there is no record of the repair request. Great! But, she can give us an appointment on Wednesday and asks what time is good. Any time after 10:30, we answer and then get an email indicating that our problems would be fixed in the 10:30-7 range. On Wednesday, a technician calls at 8:30 because he was told that our appointment was between 8 and 12. Nope, but okay, please fix the phone lines. You can probably guess what happened on Thursday morning – a different technician calls about the appointment. Doesn’t take much for me to figure out that he did get the order from the website that the contact center could not see. He asks me about the events and tries to figure out how this happened, all the while being entirely empathetic to our plight. To avoid issues like this in the future, he gave me his direct number and says that he can open a ticket for me should I ever need help. Love that idea!
Then we get a survey about our experience and have no opportunity to indicate how the process failed, how the website and the contact center were out of step, how the agent said what she was supposed to say (and probably got the call monitoring points for apologizing) but I didn’t feel it, or how the field technician connected with us and truly helped to repair the relationship even though he wasn’t the one to fix the phone lines. These are pretty major issues that I suspect are not being quantified by their quality assurance processes, including the survey. So how can you determine when customers need more empathy?
Crucial nuances of the customer experience need to be assessed by the customer. Analytics of that information leads to customized improvement plans for teams and for individual agents. The proper measurement components in your Quality Assurance program can uncover people, process, and technology issues that enable them to be objectively addressed. If your agents are not effective empathizers, the relationship is at risk and the brand is tarnished. Agents need to have a clear understanding of when customers need more empathy and how to deliver it. If not delivered properly, your brand becomes at risk.