Consumers turn to their favorite brands’ customer care hotlines for guidance, a quick solution and hopefully a pleasant, concise interaction. So, imagine the frustration they feel when prompted to speak with multiple different agents who all seem to provide conflicting answers.
If you’re shaking your head thinking that your contact center agents would never provide such poor service, it might be time for an audit, as recent research suggests this is a rather prevalent issue. In fact, a study conducted by CIO Insight revealed that the No. 1 pain point in customer care —according to 41 percent of 5,000 survey respondents—is different agents providing different answers.
This should be a major wake-up call for supervisors as this type of inconsistency can negatively impact your clients’ contact center services ROI, since frustrated consumers aren’t likely to return. While it’s true you can’t hold your agents’ hands or be there for every single customer care interaction that takes place, there are still major holes you can fill to prevent this issue.
So, how can you fix this problem and prevent it from happening in the future? Here are few ways:
- Offer client-intensive training: Agents must know your brand like the backs of their hands. They must memorize even the most intricate details about product information and company background before they even think about getting on the phone with customers. In fact, your agents should become absolute experts before they officially represent your brand, as they will be on the front lines and the first point of contact for your company’s consumers.
- Ensure consistency in ability: Agents must be trained to meet the performance of the strongest member on your team in terms of client knowledge, phone etiquette and problem solving techniques. When your agents can operate with a consistent level of proficiency your consumers won’t have to speak with multiple agents to receive an answer as all of your employees will be able to handle the inquiry on their own.
- Ensure agents possess similar dispositions: It’s important to ensure that your agents exhibit maturity and dedication to their work. When hiring agents, supervisors must thoroughly vet their candidates to determine whether or not they will take the role seriously. Your agents must be diligent and enthusiastic across the board as one dispassionate agent can negatively impact your contact center services reputation.
It’s time to redirect your customers to agents with answers. Ensure your agents are knowledgeable and prepared to handle each call with self-assurance.
Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.
Consistency is crucial for any aspect of brand management and operations, but it is especially important for customer service. Providing a single first-class experience is great, but if your goal is to retain customers—and it should be—you have to be confident that your contact center is delivering a high quality of customer service with every interaction. But how do you ensure that your representatives handle each inquiry with care?
Consistent customer service starts with the employees delivering that service. That’s why at InfoCision we take a unique approach to hiring and training our Communicators. When you partner with InfoCision you get more than just an employee; our contact center experts become a personal yet professional extension of your own internal team and we ensure they are fully prepared. Our Communicators:
- Have an average age of over 40 years and an average tenure of more than 4.5 years, and 78 percent are full-time employees
- Receive up to four months of client-specific training and are brand experts by the time training is complete
- Are provided the opportunity to earn performance-based compensation and, as such ,are committed to the highest level of professionalism
When it comes to interactions with your business, customers have a long memory. It takes numerous positive experiences to make up for a negative one—that is, if the customer even decides to give you another chance. With that in mind, our Communicators immerse themselves in your company culture and core competencies before ever taking a call and are better equipped to handle a wide range of customer concerns as a result. Additionally, because they know your brand so well, these Communicators can consistently project the image and deliver the message that you want.
An easy way to think about best practices for contact center operations is to remember that your service is only as good as the last experience you provided. So it is critical to make sure you have experienced, professional Communicators in place to handle every call like it’s the most important your company will ever receive.
Just over a week ago, InfoCision sponsored and attended the InterAction 2014 marketing summit at The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing—and the highly anticipated event did not disappoint!
This year’s conference was particularly exciting, as it featured contributions from some of the leading voices in the marketing space. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), gave a keynote address, as did Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata, who was also presented with the prestigious Direct Marketer of the Year award.
These two Epic Experts provided a wealth of thought-provoking insights that we at InfoCision have been discussing since the conference ended. As difficult as it was, we’ve narrowed them down to a few of our favorites:
Do you document?
Only 39 percent of B2C organizations and 44 percent of B2B companies have a documented content marketing strategy: and that is a major problem. As Joe said during his keynote address—and as he has written on numerous occasions—a documented strategy is the best predictor of how effective a company’s content marketing will be. If you don’t have concrete goals and objectives, you can’t possibly create successful content because you can’t even define success.
What’s your data doing?
Lisa talked at length about how important it is for businesses to use big data to gain a better understanding of how their customers think and feel. Customers today expect relevant and timely interaction, something companies can’t provide without the tools to recognize trends and patterns in customer data. Most businesses are aware by now that they need to be collecting customer information; the next step for many of these companies is investing in solutions that help make sense of it all.
Consistency, not campaigning
Marketing efforts have long been referred to as “campaigns,” but Joe is urging marketers to think about content marketing more in terms of an ongoing conversation. Maintaining positive relationships and retaining customers requires content creation that lets customers know they are front-and-center in a company’s mind at all times. In other words, content marketing doesn’t have a concrete beginning, middle and end.
What are your thoughts about our takeaways from InterAction 2014? Let us know in the comments section!