Brand perception and loyalty can live or die on the frontlines – just ask any industry in question for its perception of poor service.
“Have I done everything I could today to provide you with a delightful customer experience?” the bank customer service agent asked me in a politely scripted way as we wrapped up a recent call.
It was no doubt the 10th time that morning – or that hour? – she’s had to say that same phrase to me and to everyone else calling in. She knew that automated technology, team leads and quality assurance agents were eagerly listening in to scrutinize my response and tone for posterity, coaching and compliance. (Believe them when they tell you this call may be recorded… it is).
Everything you could have? I pondered rapidly as my mouth reflexively forms the words, “Yes, thank you.” I mean, I guess so. What else was I looking for, exactly, in this interaction, this point in time experience for me with my bank? To me, it’s just that – a quick call to check a line item I don’t recognize on my statement or to ask whether you’ve received my check because it hasn’t cleared online yet.
But to this bank, and no doubt to many of your organizations – this was THE moment of truth, a live instance where this company’s representative could fulfill – or flub – the brand promise to me. This agent is the frontline, human face of it all, and the onus is on them to deliver on “the ideal experience” every time, and with every customer. Rinse and repeat. Talk about pressure.
So what do I really want? To talk to a human being. A friendly and knowledgeable one, for sure, one who can answer a question and solve my issue the first time – and not make it feel like I’m the 100th person that day calling with the same question. It needs to feel human and connected, or else I won’t connect – to your Agent, your experience or your brand.
Contact Center channels that drive a truly transformative Customer Experience have embraced strategies that are data-centric while humanizing the interaction between your frontline agent and your customers. It doesn’t need to be letter of the law script or “yes/no” answer on coaching observation form. In fact, it’s infinitely better if it’s not.
Here are the 4 must-have mantras that truly customer-centric organizations have embraced within their phone and chat channels:
- Tie the behaviors you ask Agents to execute to results. Sounds simple enough, yet you’d be surprised to know many executives don’t actually know if the behaviors are working or not or helping them achieve meaningful goals. If they don’t tick and tie back to results or demonstrate clear differences between your top and lower Agents’ performance, go back to the drawing board. Behaviors need to be meaningful and
- Focus on the spirit vs. the letter of the law. Focus on the essence of the behavior, not the exact details and pages of scripted-out how-to’s and examples. Your agents don’t need to remember 18 different talking points and examples to have an effective conversation. Trust me, your customers already know when it feels fake. Embrace subjectivity.
- Take the handcuffs off so the Agents feel empowered to make the customer experience behaviors their own, and inject their unique personality into the interaction. Throw away the scripts and behavioral checklists – the more check-listed the behaviors, the less they will correlate to KPIs.
- Don’t separate quality assurance compliance and CX behaviors from end-results. One focuses on delivering the right experience (subjective but correlated), while the other ensures information is compliant and accurate (objective and yes/no). It’s the yin and the yang of the customer experience. And both are critical tools to continuously improve the experience you deliver.
No best-in-class customer interaction is a black-and-white conversation. It can and should vary based on the Agent’s personality as well as the customer’s attitude, needs and tone. If you’ve got the right behaviors, results will follow. And once you start delivering, you won’t have to tack on that final question at the end of the call, asking me if you’ve delivered a delightful experience. You and I – and any other the other robot and/or human listening in – will already know.