The Best Way to Handle Customer Challenges: Kill Them With Kindness

At some point we must be honest with ourselves, we can’t provide perfect care 100 percent of the time. No company is perfect. There’s simply no way to avoid receiving at least a handful of negative reviews. Oftentimes, the person on the other end of the phone could be having a bad day.

Nonetheless, it is how your Communicators react that will set your business apart from the rest. So what can Communicators do when they encounter an angry customer?

Below are a few ways Communicators can handle an unexpectedly dissatisfied consumer whether on the phone or via social media.

  • Don’t take it personally: When someone is irate, it can be difficult not to take it personally and become defensive. Doing so, however, will simply make the situation worse. As a Communicator, you have to develop thick skin as consumers will get upset from time to time. It’s important not to let your emotions get the best of you in these types of situations.
  • Stay positive: Believe it or not, using a positive tone, words, and phrases can go a long way in calming an angry consumer down. Once consumers feel your calming and positive nature, they too will start to mirror your attitude. Only then will you be able to get to the root of the problem and solve it.
  •  Acknowledge their feelings: When a consumer calls in with a complaint all he or she wants is to be heard. Don’t read the consumer a scripted apology, as he or she will see right through that. Rather, make sure that you acknowledge their feelings and display active listening queues, such as repeating back the problem.

Rather than mull over unfavorable reviews, take every customer challenge as an opportunity to learn and improve your customer care strategy. In fact, lessons learned can always be used for training purposes.

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, SOCAP, 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 is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Making the Case for Human Interaction In An Increasingly Robotic World

The phrase, “there is a time and place for everything” couldn’t ring truer when discussing the dilemma modern contact center leaders face when striking an appropriate balance among digital, automated and phone-based customer care support options.

For instance, when consumers are pressed for time, access to digital support might prove most convenient. As well, automated support is great for scheduling appointments or entering credit card information, for example. But when consumers need substantial support to solve a complex inquiry, there is nothing more effective than human interaction.

But let’s face it … digital communication methods are swiftly infiltrating traditional contact center best practices. In fact, research from Dimension Data projects that digital traffic is set to rise in 89 percent of contact centers within the next two years, and voice traffic will drop in 35 percent of contact centers.

Indeed, it would be a shame to see human interaction fade away in favor of auto attendants and self service customer care options. However, contact center leaders must face this challenge head on by learning how to integrate the right communication solutions at the right times and for the most suitable demographics.

After all, it’s just as important to preserve your contact center’s essential live support service delivered by a trained professional as it is to future-proof your business by implementing digital solutions that are currently increasing in popularity.

It’s tricky to achieve, but striking the right balance between automated, digital and phone-based interactions will be instrumental in preserving human interactions in the contact center, here’s why:

  • Consumers need deep support:   Not all inquires can be answered in a live Web chat or by the options listed off by an auto attendant. When your consumers have complex questions to ask verbal communication is the most efficient customer care method. What’s more, many consumers will always prefer human interaction.  As well, miscommunications and misunderstandings, in terms of tone and objective, are bound to occur when too much customer care is dealt with via digital or automated services. As such, contact centers must always provide access to a hotline number if a Web chat goes awry and the consumer needs live support.
  • Multiple avenues are convenient: Providing different methods of communications augments the consumer experience. After all, superior quality of customer care means that consumers can gain 24/7 access to the support platforms that they prefer. When your consumers know that they can access a combination of support methods which suit their preferences and time constraints, they’ll likely be much more satisfied with your overall service.
  • Human interaction cultivates relationships: Today, consumers want to establish trust with the brands they do business with and quality of customer care is at the crux of cultivating such relationships. As such, the best way to truly convey your dedication to providing high quality support for your consumers is to interact with them on a human level. Phone-based customer care engenders more opportunity to connect with consumers by striking up a spontaneous conversation, demonstrating empathy by actively listening to their questions and expressing compassion and trustworthiness through careful word choice and tone of voice.

It’s important to preserve human interaction in customer care support; however, as technology evolves it’s also important to remain relevant with the times.

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.

Derive Insights From Your Customers’ Social Media Conversations

Today’s consumers are verbose, but not necessarily over the phone. Rather, your customers openly share, sometimes brutally, their honest feedback on your brand’s quality of customer care across a multitude of social media outlets.

With that said, businesses ought to cast an eye toward the conversations that are continuously unfolding on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Your consumers are likely to share positive reviews about their customer care experiences; however, aggregated research confirms that they are even more likely to share negative brand experiences.

As such, it’s vital that you stay informed on the tone and context of their conversations about your brand so that you can appropriately adjust your customer care strategy. And, due to the fact that not all of your clientele will share their honest thoughts during a customer care phone call or even participate in a survey, you need to make sure you can garner insights from outside sources.

Case in point, do you read through Tweets sent your way and purposely track the number of times they are shared? It’s important to heed the advice that your consumers are posting in plain sight. For instance, perhaps you notice a Tweet that’s portrayed your customer care agents in a negative light. To make matters worse, this particular post received a slew of comments—all of which appear to substantiate the original complaint. There a few ways you can leverage this social media conversation and turn it into actionable data.

First, you must immediately share this information with your agents so they can correct the offending behavior(s). In so doing, you’ll level the playing field. Second, you must respond to your consumers. Owning up to your customer care missteps and making a promise to provide improved services in the future will assure your consumers that you’re listening to their concerns and keeping them top of mind.

Sometimes we need to look at information outside the contact center to make effective improvements from within. So what are you waiting for? Start scrolling through your news feeds!

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.

Top Ways to Create a Personalized Customer Care Experience

The degree of attentiveness and dedication that today’s consumers expect from their favorite brands’ has hit an all-time high. Just think about it; consumers need multiple modes of contact, immediate answers and even customized messages that target their personal needs. And, due to these sky rocketing demands, businesses must do their due diligence to meet these requirements or suffer the consequences—like customer churn and negative reviews.

Now, businesses must interact with their consumers with the intent of forming a personal relationship. So, when it comes to the quality of customer care in the contact center space, the role of the telecommunications agent has become much more complex. For instance, agents must now do much more than simply communicate with their consumers, rather they must deliver a personalized one-on-one experience with each customer.

In fact, a recent article titled “The Golden Rules to the Six Pillars: Empathy” published by Engage Customer outlines how to effectively create these experiences with your consumers by adhering to a few “golden rules.” For instance, sharing similar experiences to establish a personal connection, providing the right emotional response, taking ownership of your consumers’ problems and treating customers as your priority are a just a few of the rules to live by.

So, how can you make certain that your contact center agents are addressing these golden rules and creating the ultimate customer experience with each individual they interact with?

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your agents take their customer care phone calls to the next level:

  • Keep it conversational: Let your agents know that it’s important to talk about more than just the issue at hand. Consumers should understand that agents are human beings who enjoy social interaction just as much as the next person. For example, while it’s important to keep your phone calls professional, try making light conversation about the weather, about current events or, depending on the nature of the call, share your own personal experiences with your customer. In doing so, your consumers will feel at ease and that they’ve established a real relationship with their brand of choice.
  • Make consumers feel important: When helping a customer with a problem they’re having with a product or answering a simple question—make sure that your agents use language and a tone of voice that allows consumers to understand that they are the top priority. It should be apparent that solving their issue is the agent’s top concern. Tell your agents to thank customers for their patience, voice their understanding and relay urgency—use phrases like “right away” and “I completely understand how you feel”—to make consumers feel as if they’re speaking with a loyal friend.

It’s time to stop treating consumers like strangers. Get more personal and show them your empathetic side—it’s just what you need to boost your quality of customer care.

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.