4 Ways Contact Center Agents can Build Customer Loyalty

Here’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.
2.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.
3.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.
4. 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
•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.

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