If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know I’m a big believer in the value of customer experience (CX) as a competitive differentiator for brands. You’ll also know that in the digital world in which we live, I believe the call centre plays a vital role in the delivery of CX, yet is often overlooked in this regard.
While I have written about the need to train – i.e. enable, equip and empower – your contact centre agents to make them more effective in delivering a world class experience, today I want to highlight a few training focus areas that will not only benefit your agents, but also benefit your customers and ultimately your business.
Knowing the customer
As a lifelong marketer I have done my fair share of developing ideal customer profiles (ICP) for organisations. If you’re not familiar with what a persona or ICP is, it’s a profile that companies build that provides an overview of the characteristics of their ideal customers. Depending on if you’re a B2B or B2C company the attributes may change, but overall they help direct marketing and sales in how to best engage their audience.
One thing I believe more organisations should do however is involve the call centre in these discussions and also share the final profiles with them when completed. Why? The more information we can give a call centre agent about the kind of customer they are speaking to, what their challenges are and the various ways they like to engage, the better prepared that agent will be.
There’s no such thing as having too much information on our customer. Involving agents in the creation of, and delivering the final profiles to them, will enable them to adjust accordingly.
A good number of years ago my wife and I went out for dinner to a new restaurant. Excited to try out a new place our excitement was quickly doused by the experience. When a manager stopped by our table to ask how our night was going, I politely explained that the service was not at all what we expected, the food was under cooked and we were less than satisfied. Clearly defensive, he crossed his arms and asked, “What do you expect me to do?” Somewhat surprised I replied by saying, “I want you to comp our meal.”
Needless to say, we never went back to the restaurant, but it was a good lesson on the impact a little empathy could have made. If that manager had apologised, let us know that he understood we should have had a better experience and offered to make it right, the reality is we probably would have given that establishment another chance.
The same goes for call centre agents and the need for empathy. In my time in the call centre business, I know that there are times when customers can be frustrated, they can be unreasonable, they can get angry…and the list goes on. How a call centre agent replies to the customer can make all the difference in the world, and responding with empathy can diffuse a situation and turn a bad situation into a good one.
However, we cannot expect agents to simply know how to apply empathy; they need to be trained on how to do it – and it’s not a one-time event.
If you want to turn your agents into a customer experience agent, teach them on how to apply empathy.
Too many times we think of innovation in terms of technology, but when we do this we limit the definition of the word. Innovation is about how we think, how we act and the processes we use in our business.
Innovation expert Carla Johnson says the following about innovation: “Most innovation isn’t sustainable because people make it much harder than it has to be. Experts portray it as confusing and complicated so they can charge big fees. Executives make it intimidating and complex, so they appear smarter and important. Traditional innovators imply you need a special degree or training to know how to do it right.”
Giving your agents the training and allowing them to be innovative when solving a problem for a customer can make all the difference in the delivery of CX. It will also embolden your agents when they are not constrained and give them the freedom to be creative, which will give them more fulfilment in their roles.
It can be argued that call centre agents are some of the most pivotal employees in the delivery of CX. Training them in these three areas will go a long way towards helping them do this, which will only be of benefit to your business.
Originally published May 25, 2021, updated Jul 22, 2021