Ask any customer service agent what they’d like to change about their job and the first thing out of their mouth is likely to be ‘the customers.’ And it’s no wonder since they face screaming, threats of physical harm, unreasonable expectations, and complaints to managers on a daily basis. Maybe that’s why Workopolis reports that the role of Customer Service Representative is currently one of the 15 hardest-to-fill jobs.
We recently sat down with a handful of call center representatives to discuss the problems they have with customers. We asked them what they could dream up that would help them work more effectively (without actually wiping out customers altogether) and in the end there were four fairly reasonable actions that they thought could help them increase customer satisfaction while maintaining agent sanity.
- Deliver on promises. Agents agree that working for a company that delivers on their marketing promises makes their job easier. When a customer has experienced a product or service to mostly live up to its billing, they seem to approach customer service issues with the faith that something can be done to solve their problem, and they exercise more patience with the process of finding a solution.
- Educate consumers. Both customer and agent frustration is minimized when a customer knows how to articulate a problem unambiguously to the agent. Offering clear instructions for use, good FAQs on webpages, well-placed prompts and other methods of knowledge transfer makes great business sense because they help customers to get the most out of complex products and services before they ever need customer service. And when customer service is required, strong information flow can enhance the interaction; electronically-based interactions can use customer-controlled prompts that cut down on agent time. Digital interactions also allow agents to engage with additional customers while others take their time to find the appropriate terminology and phrasing to convey their problem.
- Reduce voice-to-voice interactions. The agents we spoke to agree that many interactions can be handled more efficiently and with less ire over digital channels. Voice-to-voice interactions seem to become escalated more often than text messages. Agents also like digital interactions because they can more easily meet quotas by offering personalized service to more than one customer at a time.
- Empower agents to make things right. Customers are happier when the first agent they reach is able to actually do something about the problem at hand, and they don’t have to speak to two or three people before finding a satisfactory resolution. Informed and empowered agents (supported with quality software and reliable hardware) can cut down on total company time spent in an interaction and with a customer while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction. When agents are not struggling with antiquated technologies and equipment, and they have the power to offer good solutions, they say customers trust and confidence are palpable. And that can only be good for business!