Published: June 16, 2014 | Comments (1)
So many articles have been written about customers wanting the universe, wrapped in a pretty package, and delivered yesterday. I don’t believe that today’s customers want it all to the point of being unreasonably hard to please. Let me explain.
I acknowledge that there are as many customer wants as there are customers. And every one of your customers will place varying degrees of importance over the things they expect from your contact center. There may be expectations that a customer is willing to overlook, if they’re not met; but there are definitely some that are not optional, and failing to deliver on those wants can spell disaster for the business.
So in your next review session with your team, before you even endeavor to assess if your contact center is meeting or even exceeding customer expectations, first ask: “What do our customers want that we need to deliver?”
We polled our own community at Impact Learning Systems and distilled the Top 5 wants that are non-negotiable:
1. Top-notch service
Despite the highly evolved customer, it’s still all about good, old-fashioned, personal service. In the world of contact centers, few things can beat the warm, fuzzy feeling that the customer takes away with her after speaking with an agent who made her feel like she was the organization’s most important customer. It’s about the simple gesture of treating the customer like a good friend and that you got their back on this, no matter how complex or simple the issue is.
What you need are agents who truly and genuinely find joy in helping others. It’s true this is about attitude, but with proper training and coaching, this attitude can be developed.
2. Ease of access to a competent agent
How many number options do your customers need to press before they reach a living, breathing human when they call your support number? One too many if you asked them! Who invented the menu options anyway?
Gone are the days when you get a real person right away when you call a business line. I get that this is an efficiency consideration on the part of the business. But the operational decisions you will eventually impact your customer service delivery. The reason why your customers contact customer service is to speak to a representative. It can be quite upsetting when they have to go through a maze of menu options to reach one.
But reaching the agent is just the beginning. Customers expect that the agent who picks up the phone have the skills and knowledge to answer questions and provide solutions. It’s not an either-or situation.
3. Positive attitude
Tensions are high and stress abounds in contact centers, both from the customer’s and the agent’s side. But all that negativity can be deflected with the power of having a positive, winning mindset. It’s almost impossible to stay angry at someone who exudes optimism and a cheerful disposition. Customers appreciate talking to someone with a positive attitude because it inspires confidence that the customer’s problem can – and will – be addressed.
4. Quick but not rushed
Call center agents are expected to take anywhere from 50 to 80 calls in an 8-hour shift. Anything below that can adversely affect their performance ratings. But metrics such as Average Call Duration unintentionally drive agents to focus on keeping call times short that they fail to provide the kind of help the customer desperately needs.
Even though customers are keen on keeping their calls to customer support as short as they possibly can, they also still want to feel that the agent has taken the time to help them rather than rushed through the conversation. Fast doesn't mean it is good when it ignores customers’ perception of how well they were cared for.
We’ve all heard about the abuse that contact center agents take on a daily basis from rude customers. But every so often, we also hear about surly agents who make you wonder how on earth they got hired to this role in the first place. Every customer expects respect for his time, respect for his dignity, and respect for his intelligence. Respect for one another is fundamental in society, and should be the cornerstone of customer service.
And so I go back to my original statement: customers don’t want it all. But there are certain customer wants that are central to customer service and are non-negotiable. Are customers who contact your organization getting the Top 5 discussed above? Knowing what your customers expect for service allows you to hone in on the strategies that will provide superior service and deliver customer experience that builds loyalty.