You never get a second chance to make a first impression
In our increasingly digital world, customer interactions handled in contact centers often constitute the first (and sometimes the last) human interaction between your company and its customers.
Despite the rise of email, chat, and social media, 68 percent of contact center interactions are still initiated by phone, rather than electronically. Still, many companies underestimate the connection between customer satisfaction and brand image. Contributing to this issue is the fact that up to 50 percent of customers contacting a given company’s contact center are likely to have negative experiences1. And while they may not take the time to provide feedback, rest assured that those negative experiences taint their impression of the company’s brand image, reducing their likelihood of making future purchases or recommending the company to others. Additionally, 59 percent of 25–34 year-olds surveyed indicate that they share negative customer service experiences online, which significantly increases the reach of those experiences.
Given the importance of customer service, your company needs to ensure your customers have a positive experience. You are guaranteed that they won’t if you:
Hire the wrong talent.
Prior customer service experience should not be considered a requirement; in fact, individuals who have previously worked in contact centers may have acquired negative habits or attitudes along the way. Remember, you can teach the skills, but not the will to provide the best possible customer experience. Today’s top contact center managers are looking for candidates with prior experience working in positions with a strong customer focus (think retail salespeople, supermarket cashiers, nursing home administrators, etc.). These individuals tend to have the soft skills necessary to leave your customers feeling “warm and fuzzy,” which will ultimately bolster your bottom line.
Neglect customized and continued training.
Many contact centers only provide communications training to new hires. This can be detrimental to the company, as consumers, markets, and even social norms frequently change. Agents must be trained to adapt to these shifting conditions in order to act as an empathetic, human voice of the company. Training is about more than just onboarding. It is about customized approaches to distinguish the best learning mediums and to engage your contact center team in ongoing dialogue to continuously improve. If you aren’t changing, evolving, and learning, you are stagnating.
Foster a negative work environment.
Let’s face it: contact center work can be monotonous. Compounding this problem are the strict metrics and scheduling requirements for which representatives are typically held responsible. How can you ensure that each agent treats the last call of the day with the same level of urgency and care as the first? Providing the right kind of work environment goes a long way. For instance, a major financial institution’s contact centers recently reported an eight percent increase in handle time efficiency, due in part to allowing entire teams to take breaks together. This change improved the agents’ energy levels, which in turn benefitted the company. In short, employees who are stimulated and who work in a nurturing environment provide better service.
The bottom line.
It is seven to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one. Your company’s contact center representatives have a unique opportunity to not only encourage current customers to continue engaging with you, but to generate new customers for you through word-of-mouth. If you are not thinking strategically about your contact center operations, your competitors will cement their position in the market, and where will you be left?
Sources: 10 Customer Service Stats and What They Mean for Your Contact Center; Tom Pickard Cost of Poor Service - The Economic Truths; Paul Linnell Internal Perceptions Drive External Satisfaction for Call Centers; SYKES Poor Customer Care Center Experiences Hurt Company Image and Customer Trust; Ernan Roman
have negative experiences
Contributing to this issue is the fact that up to 50 percent of customers contacting a given company’s contact center are likely to have negative experiences.
Source: Cost of Poor Service - The Economic Truths; Paul Linnell
more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one
Source: Poor Customer Care Center Experiences Hurt Company Image
and Customer Trust; Ernan Roman
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