When we talk about making customers happy our focus is almost always on what we can do for them. There’s nothing wrong with that; after all, customers are key to a successful business. However, a focus only on the customer means we’re missing out on an opportunity to think a little bigger.
A customer’s primary interaction with a business is through an employee. If we can improve that employee’s performance and happiness, the customer’s experience will also be better.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when a customer engages with your contact centre teams. It’s easy to tell when a customer service agent has already “checked out” and has no loyalty to his or her current employer. As a customer, there’s no more frustrating feeling than when the person on the other end of the line sounds disinterested. When that happens, the natural instinct for the customer is to look elsewhere for the next purchase.
Improving employee engagement is particularly vital when you consider younger employees. The next generation of workers is a transient one—on average they change roles four times before the age of 32. It’s easy to think this audience just wants a cool office and free beer in exchange for working for you, but the reality is different.
Instead, you need to devote time to supporting their career goals and showing how their career can progress with your business. Freebies should be a bonus rather than the motivating factor to work with you.
Feedback inspired by data
Feedback from contact centre managers has traditionally been focused on instinct or a response to a customer complaint. But this spur-of-the-moment coaching is just the beginning in helping employees grow. It’s vital to offer contact centre employees clear guidance on the areas where they are performing well and where they can improve.
Smart brands are increasingly employing speech, text and desktop analytics to observe interactions between customers and employees, and using the insights gathered to provide smarter coaching.
Moves like this are vital for business success—we know employees value training and access to the right tools and are more likely to engage with your business when you provide them. Recent research from Dale Carnegie shows brands with engaged employees outperform brands who don’t apply the same focus by up to 202 percent.
Going beyond a call centre
Picking up the phone and ringing a call centre is no longer our customers’ primary tool of choice when they need assistance. We have social channels, email, blogs, videos and website comments to articulate our frustration at poor service or disappointing products. Call centres must adapt to manage these new touchpoints, and nowhere is this more important than helping employees deal with mobile-first issues.
The nature of call centre work means we’re often rooted to one location, but the people we’re helping are not. If employees don’t feel they have the tools to effectively service customers, they’ll go elsewhere—no one enjoys being shouted at for something that isn’t their fault.
Providing your staff with the ability to follow up with customers via the medium of choice makes a tremendous difference to the overall customer experience—the customer feels he or she is heard, and employees aren’t forced to engage customers via a medium outside their comfort zone.
Your call centre’s importance is only going to grow as customers use new channels to engage with your business. However, rather than focusing on the customer’s direct experience, let’s use 2017 to take a step back and consider how to improve employee experience, as well. Get that right, and watch customer satisfaction increase, too.
Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO of workforce optimization company, Calabrio