A client recently shared a story about a poor customer interaction. They were call listening and at first blush were ready to issue a warning to their seasoned representative. But then thought to ask us for help on how they could potentially turn the situation around and save themselves from starting down the path of corrective action. Especially knowing the significant investment of time and resources to hire, train and develop an individual only to lose them over coachable issues.
In way of back story, their customer called upset by an unexpected high bill she had received. The representative replied “sorry to hear it” in a manner that sounded anything but sorry. To the contrary, the representative sounded really aggravated that they had to hear the customer issue in the first place. The representative missed an opportunity to show they heard the customer and understood the concern, resulting in the customer giving low CEX post call survey responses.
If this was your company, how would you address (and remedy) this behavior?
I love this question! This type of response to our customer’s emotions and concerns is often a behavior that can be contagious in a contact center leading to a rippling effect of low customer satisfaction results and a potential dip in morale. Let me share a few recommendations with you, including a fairly simple way to nip the behavior in the bud and turn it around.
Think about it. We provide our contact center representatives with exceptional training. We give them the words to say to create stellar customer experiences. But saying the words isn’t enough., Representatives must demonstrate the emotional intelligence, the good judgment to say those words in a way that will produce a positive result.
Here are three tips to consider:
1) Help your representative become more self-aware. Most representatives show up for work every day with the intent to do a good job and are often confused when they miss the mark with lower quality scores or a poor customer satisfaction rating. They are often frustrated when they feel like they are saying the right things yet not having the best customer impact.
I liken this issue to a phrase my Dad used to love to tell us kids when we were squabbling and he wanted us to apologize to each other. It was “Say it like you mean it and make me feel it.” It’s a simple phrase, but really works to help someone understand the impact of their words. What my Dad really meant is just saying the words wasn’t sufficient and instead we needed to infuse the right tone to ensure the message was received as intended.
This idea of helping representatives understand the words and the delivery have an impact on how messages are received. It can help people raise their own self-awareness and put a little distance between the emotion they’re feeling and their response, which is another benefit.
2) Help representatives hear the emotion behind the customer issues. Another way to boost their self-awareness is by encouraging them to listen to both what the customer is saying as well as what the emotion might be behind the words. Ask your representatives to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Ask them to reflect back on a time when they may have experienced something similar. Let them share their experiences.
Then, share with your representatives that an easy way to connect with the customer is to be an active listener and acknowledge what the customer is saying as well as what they didn’t say but expressed through their emotion.
3) Help representatives put some “spice” into their conversations. At Ulysses Learning, we provide our clients with plenty of training around the components of voice tone to ensure the words representatives use have the greatest and most positive customer impact. One acronym we share in our training is SPICES. For example, the “S” stands for Smile. And, specifically, it reminds representatives to put a smile into their voice which customers can hear. “P” is for pace and is an excellent reminder for representatives to speak at a rate that customers can comprehend what’s being said. Speaking too quickly can convey to customers that representatives don’t care or think that customers (and their issues) matter to your company. “I” is for Inflection. Voice inflection can drastically change the meaning of words. When you add some spices to the conversation, it creates a natural human interaction resulting in higher customer satisfaction.
About Dina Vance
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations at Ulysses Learning
In her current capacity with Ulysses Learning, Dina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and also serves as the chief client relationship executive, working with Fortune 100 clients and other progressive organizations to redefine the way customers are cared for. Under her leadership, Ulysses has become well known for its work in transforming customer service, sales and coaching cultures through the development of emotional intelligence or “EQ,” enabling reps to confidently, consistently and expertly handle every call. The company has special expertise in serving the insurance, utilities, and financial services industries.
Before joining Ulysses in 2001, Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers to serve bankers including Fortune 100 clients First Chicago, Harris Bank, American Express and Citibank. This led to her role as call center lead consultant and division manager for an international bank training organization prior to Ulysses. Outside of work Dina is actively involved in local volunteerism and enjoys cooking, gardening and nature walks.
Dina can be reached on LinkedIn or at email@example.com; for more details on Ulysses Learning visit www.ulysseslearning.com
Challenge Solved! Is sponsored by:
Ulysses Learning was founded in 1995 as a joint venture with Northwestern University’s world renowned Learning Sciences department. Since then, Ulysses’ continued focus on research and development has earned it prestigious awards and recognition and, most importantly, the respect from its clients who rely on Ulysses for innovative performance improvement solutions that change with their rapidly developing and evolving environments.
Contact centers achieve profound business results ahead of schedule with Ulysses Learnings’ artful blend of patented simulation-based e-learning, facilitated exercises, coaching, and technology-driven tools, that redefine the way customers are cared for and transform customer service, sales, and coaching cultures. Ulysses has one of the only training systems proven to build EQ with its proprietary Framework with Freedom© approach, enabling reps to develop skills to empathize with others, build stronger customer bonds, and improve team dynamics with confidence, consistency, and excellence.
Ulysses Learning is a multi-year recipient of the Gold Stevie© Award for the best contact center customer service training.
Begin your contact center transformation now. Phone 800-662-4066 or visit www.ulysseslearning.com to get started.