Customer service interactions can make or break an individual’s perception of a company and willingness to return. It remains critical for leaders to understand how less than satisfactory experiences impact customers, their loyalty and their likelihood to come back. In fact, a recent survey of over 1,000 US consumers found that 77% of consumers said they are likely to end their relationship with a brand or business due to a poor customer service experience.
So what can the industry do to navigate customer experience pressures and create more consistent service experiences, despite forces outside their control?
Understand the inherent relationship between the employee and customer experience.
Everyone’s encountered a frustrating customer service call at one point or another, setting the tone for the remainder of the interaction. Whether intentional or not, humans carry their moods into conversations, and customers can feel agents’ emotions. So much so that nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers agree that the employee experience (EX) impacts CX, and 62% feel that representatives with low energy create frustrating experiences.
The unique challenges of contact centers, from working with upset customers to the monotony of scripted speaking, have ushered in a new opportunity to focus on employee wellbeing to improve the employee experience (and, in turn, the customer experience).
To prioritize wellbeing, leaders can consider helping employees reduce stress, not just manage it, welcoming new work perks and encouraging genuine human connection. Investing in the employee experience and wellbeing as part of the foundation of CX cannot be understated—if this concept is sidelined, customer-focused initiatives will fail.
Foster empathy and emotional intelligence to create better connections.
While happy employees greatly improve customer experience, cultivating empathetic interactions takes these efforts further. The survey found that over half of consumers (54%) believe it is very important to experience empathy in service interactions. And, what’s even more telling, is that 72% of respondents found representatives who lack empathy or come across as cold to be a frustrating behavior to experience during a call.
Avoiding negative emotions during customer service calls is imperative. When employers invest in developing agent emotional intelligence (EQ), there’s a direct impact on overall customer satisfaction that would not be seen otherwise.
Leverage technology to drive the experience home.
One thing is for certain—we’ve come a long way with the available tools and technologies that can enable efficiency, support employees and create better interactions.
According to the survey, 72% of consumers agree that if a customer service representative uses AI technology that coaches them to have better conversational skills in real-time, they would have better experiences or service interactions. By offering real-time guidance, employees feel more supported, drastically improving the end-to-end experience. Even better, tools that enable personal growth while offering guidance are more readily available today and becoming the standard for attracting and retaining service talent.
Customer expectations can feel like a moving target, but it’s up to leaders to lay a strong foundation that welcomes sustained loyalty. It begins with your employees. Prioritize their wellbeing, cultivate a culture of empathy and provide technology that helps them achieve their tasks and goals. By fostering a supported, happy workforce, organizations will be better positioned to serve customers—fulfilling their needs and desire for great experiences.