The Key Ingredient to Call Center Success

It may sound sentimental at first, but an important variable in contact center services is empathy. Think about your best customer care experience; the agent probably conveyed genuine engagement and concern regarding your service inquiry—that is, he or she was empathetic towards your situation.

As well, your company can’t afford to omit such an important customer care initiative as poor customer relations cost companies nearly $41 billion each year. Preserve your contact center services ROI by providing the utmost compassion for your customers.

When empathy is missing from a contact center’s mission, unfavorable scenarios ensue. For example, we’ve recently discussed on this blog the unpleasant American Airlines customer care blunder that involved a woman spending six hours on hold. It’s clear the customer care representative lacked empathy for the woman’s needs as she was neglected for several hours. As a result, American Airlines’ reputation suffered, for instance the company has received a multitude of unfavorable comments on its Twitter page.

But expressing empathy means more than shortening your hold times. Rather, this characteristic should touch all of your business’s customer care best practices, down to dealing with instances of bad reviews. For example, one hotel went so far as to fine its customers $500 for posting negative reviews on Yelp. Rather than fight fire with fire or try to cover up negative press, businesses should use poor reviews as a learning experience and motivation to improve their customer care strategy. Businesses that receive unfavorable assessments can redeem their reputation by expressing compassion for customers’ unpleasant experiences. For example, turn around a bad experience by offering up an honest apology and making a commitment towards bettering future services.

How can you ensure your contact center staff—from supervisor to agent—is poised to provide the highest level of empathy? Here a few ways:

  • Audit calls more frequently to maintain consistent quality
  • Supervisors: provide your agents with positive reinforcement for above and beyond quality of customer care
  • Use technology such as skills-based routing to ensure highly proficient agents and subject matter experts answer related customer calls, which will improve first call resolution.
  • Hire the right staff, i.e., make sure your potential candidates exhibit maturity, experience and dedication to their line of work.

The bottom line is this: Never underestimate the power of empathy; it might be the most powerful tool in improving your contact center services ROI.

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.