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The 7 Needs of a Contact Center Customer

colorful hairThis month, we're featuring the contributions of the 2022 ICMI Thought Leaders and Featured Contributors. These leaders in the contact center industry regularly take time out to share knowledge to help their peers succeed. ICMI Thought Leader Ben Motteram has long shared his knowledge through his blog. Here, here talks about taking a customer-centric viewpoint.

I started my career in my early 20’s working in the residential contact center of a phone company. I’d just finished a marketing degree and, upon the advice of my father, I entered the business in a customer service capacity. He believed that interacting with hundreds of customers every week would give me great insight into their needs before I moved into the marketing department.

That advice proved invaluable. What I learned in those six months served me extremely well as I devised and implemented sales and retention campaigns over the next few years, like how to work within the limitations of the contact center systems and processes, what appealed to our customers, and how to work effectively with people on the frontline.

After taking thousands of calls during my time in that contact center, I realized that while all customers vary, most have a common set of seven basic needs when they interact with an organization:

Friendliness

The most basic customer need. Those they interact with must be courteous and polite.

Empathy

The customer needs to know that their wants and circumstances are understood and appreciated.

Fairness

The customer must feel they receive adequate attention and fair/reasonable answers.

Control

The customer must feel their wants and input have influence on the outcome.

Alternatives

Customers want choice and flexibility. They want to know there are many avenues to satisfy them.

Information

Customers want to know about products and services - but in a pertinent and time-sensitive manner. Too much information and “selling” can put customers off.

Time

Customers’ time is valuable, and we need to treat it as such. The time we ask customers to spend doing tasks must be minimized, and we must do things efficiently and effectively.

Though it has been more than a quarter century since I was working the frontlines of a contact center, I still use these principles in customer experience design. You can’t design an experience for someone without a good understanding of their needs.

These principles also apply to more than customers. They can be used to guide actions when dealing with coworkers and managers or when designing experiences for employees. Whether you’re a CX manager, an HR manager, or a contact center frontline worker, learn these needs and apply how you’d satisfy them for the different people within your working life.