Contact center agents face the world every day. Day in and day out they interact with hundreds of customers over voice or text. Agents are not just speaking to customers but also representing a brand that has high value at stake. In today’s emotion-driven atmosphere, poor customer service gone viral can reduce your stock price as well. All these together make it very important for businesses to train and educate their agents properly.
Contact center conversations occur for many purposes. Customers seek product information, post-purchase support, and even product-based or service-based assistance. In these conversations, emotions go flying and it is important that the agent is prepared to handle these situations. Controlling the flow of the conversation is an art that is sought by the customer-based industry.
It is important to remember that agents are not perfect and neither are customers. In fact, I have witnessed rude customers who cross the line in a fit of rage. In such situations, the brand must have a protocol in place to deal with it better.
In this blog, I will discuss what damage control techniques you can practice to prevent escalations and help your agents.
1. Be an Empath
2. Do not judge the Customer
3. Practice Humility
4. Take Responsibility for your brand
5. Be Mindful of what you say
6. Rely on Historical Data to Serve Better
7. Be Patient with Angry Customers
8. Involve a superior when the Customer Crosses the Line
9. Reward your Customer as an Alternative
10. Choose In-Call Analytics for your voice support
Contact center agents need to listen before speaking. Being empathetic while engaging with the customer is essential for brand representation. The customer will not know the policies, or the manager or the CEO. He or she will only speak to the agent and that one person determines how the company should be perceived. Hence, even during raging conversations, keeping cool is important.
Customers at times might make foolish decisions which lead to further hassles. We have all heard stories where someone messed up their phones or poured water down their television. These things happen and sometimes agents might get frustrated. It is important not to judge your customers for making mistakes. Instead, accept that it is part of the trade and assist them without judgment. It is better to keep your opinions personal and not to have any negative impact on your audience. We can learn something from the hospitality industry where the staff remains non-judgemental of the guests and try to make them comfortable in every possible way.
Agents can make mistakes or misinterpret a situation. It is possible that the customer at times knows better and is seeking assistance. In such scenarios, the agent must accept their mistakes and apologize.
When a product goes wrong or service fails the customer, the agent must take responsibility for the brand. This shows that there is no gap between the business and the customer. Denying any fault will reflect poorly upon your business. Not only do you lose the customer, but you also lose people’s approval.
Every other day we read or hear about a poor agent or manager's behavior. Due to one person’s mistake, the entire company gets implicated. It is important to choose the right words and be respectful towards your customers. This is very important when you are tending to international customers. Lack of cultural knowledge and local language can lead to miscommunication.
An agent might feel lost before a customer for many reasons. Whether he is a new employee or unaware of the service or process is no excuse for bad service. It is advisable to equip your agents with updated technology and historic data. An omnichannel suite will provide your agents with the customer journeys and previous conversations. This will help them to positively maneuver the conversation and assist them better.
As a customer myself, I remember how frustrating it gets, at times. However, I have always been greeted with patience and humility. This has always restored my faith in the brand and helped the business to retain me. The same goes for every other customer out there. The agent must pause and listen. Allowing the customer to vent is the first step in dealing with escalating situations.
At times customers tend to be fraudulent or abusive. These are rare but possible scenarios where the agent might get flustered. Instead of going into a verbal brawl, a superior employee such as a team leader or manager must be involved to neutralize the situation. A third-person intervention can redirect the conversation and prevent the situation from becoming ugly.
Sometimes it is impossible to solve an issue that a customer is facing. These cases will happen and the business must hold up to its end. The agent should be trained to offer rewards or refunds based on the facts presented to them. For example, a year back my HP laptop had a soundboard error. While it was a new product, I did not have a warranty and I was frustrated. It was to my surprise that the agent offered to replace my product even without a warranty. Not only did it restore my faith in them, but I am an active advocate for the brand. The bottom line is, at times these little gestures can go a long way.
It is better to prevent a customer from leaving than to analyze later why they left. While we have call barging and call whispers to assist agents, in-call analytics can go a little further. It will identify the customer's emotions and language, looking for certain keywords. These keywords are predefined, to identify if the customer is dissatisfied. Whenever a conversation is going wrong, in-call analytics will notify your managers about it in real-time. From the dashboard, the manager will have the option to barge or whisper in the call to improve the situation and retain the customer. Research from Harvard Business Review states, that acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one!.
The quality of customer service can never be compromised. Training your agents right is a known fact. However, improving their performance and the quality of the service is an organizational effort. From choosing the right technology to preparing better scripts, all of it impacts how your brand is perceived. The above-mentioned steps will help you remind and guide your agents on what to focus on.
Author Bio: Sweta is a passionate technical writer with experience in digital marketing. Outside work, she is a devoted Esports advocate.