Knowledgeable Phone Reps, the Hold Button and Happy Customers

For the last few years, the mantra of most customer service organizations has been “let’s provide memorable customer experiences.” The customer experience has quickly – and quite firmly – taken the top spot in the goals of most (but not all) organizations.

Creating Long-Term Brand Loyalty

The purpose of ‘customer experience’ is to encourage long-term brand loyalty among customers.  That means delivering consistently good experiences with the brand that leave the customers feeling satisfied. There are stories of successes and not-so-successes, ranging from those companies who’ve only paid lip service to those businesses who’ve firmly embraced the mantra. The differences generally reveal themselves in the results – it’s increasingly difficult to convince customers you care when your actions still say something quite different. A true customer experience-focused organization demands adherence to a belief system, a commitment to training and the right methods and tools to measure success.

Providing that level of customer experience is big commitment for some organizations.  It can be eye-opening – in some cases demanding a total rethinking from the ground up of company principals, procedures and mindset.

That’s a huge undertaking.

So what does it do for businesses?  What does adopting a customer experience-focused mindset deliver?

Respect – Just a Little Bit.

How do we satisfy our customers?

It’s not really hard – just show them respect.

At its core, a great call center customer experience is about respect for your customer at the other end of the phone. What does it take?

  • Ditch Long Holds.
    Hire enough agents so you can better service your customer in a more timely way. Nothing’s worse than being kept waiting.  Customers hate to be kept on hold.
  • Get Smart.
    Agents are the face of the organization to callers, and they need to be knowledgeable. Training is a must. Remember: the more knowledge call center agents have, the more confident they become, and a confident agent can make a huge difference in a customer’s experience.
  • Invest in Customer Experience.
    Yes, it takes money, time and commitment to make customer experience the number one goal in an organization. There’s no getting around that – but the investment is paid back quickly with loyal customers purchasing more from your organization.

Beyond the Experience: Customer Engagement

It is becoming increasingly popular to go a step beyond the customer experience.  More companies are taking the next step into active customer engagement.

What is customer engagement?  It’s not so different from plain “old” customer experience, but with more emphasis on making each customer feel warm and fuzzy – happy. Look beyond what kind of experience the customer has had, to how the experience made them feel. Did it create a long-term loyal customer?

Call Center Customer Engagement Tips:

  • Make the customer feel valued.
    Customer engagement is all about emotion, and how the customer feels at the end of each engagement with your call center agent. For your agents, it comes down to empathizing with the customer. They need to make a personal connection, and continue to develop that connection throughout the call.
  • Guard the caller’s time.
    Respect your customer’s time. When they call, take immediate control of their issue. Don’t put them on hold, but offer instead to call them back.
  • Listen to the customer’s needs and address their concerns.
    Provide solutions that make a simple, positive resolution as easy as possible for the customer.
  • More knowledge creates happiness.
    As with customer experience, you need to build teams of confident brand ambassadors. Customer engagement requires that agents have extensive brand knowledge, and the power to make each customer feel like they are special. It means increasing call center training and coaching beyond what many organizations are used to.

Customer experience (and its offshoot, customer engagement) requires a firm dedication to seeing things from the customer’s perspective. Organizations need to ask themselves whether they are prepared to make the necessary commitments to change before embarking on such a strategy.  But whether or not your organization embarks on a new customer-centric strategy, it’s plainly clear that the experience & emotions customers attach to a brand are important for brand loyalty…and your bottom line.