Empowering Agents to Personalize the Customer Service Experience

Customer Service

Overseeing Call Center agents and managers working well in synchronicity with programs, systems and customers is, quite frankly, the job supervisors do daily. Some days, it seems more like a dream than a reality. With all of the information passing between departments, management and agents, it’s no wonder how quality, customer service experiences can get lost. Managing the flow of information across channels successfully is the zenith for supervisors.

According to the Forbes Report, “Modern Customer Service: Are you outpacing your executive peers?” Forbes and Oracle propose an interesting question: “how do you ensure that customers receive the same information and answers across channels?”

Perhaps more interesting are the following results:

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Which statistic stands out to you? While #’s 1-3 vary by only 13 points and there’s only 1 point separating #’s 4-6, take a look at #6: “empower the customer service agents to make decisions as needed.”

You might be thinking, “Of course, Greg, you would expect #6 to be where it is because it allows agents to be empowered to think for themselves, thus, potentially disrupting the consistency of information distribution to the customers. And, if agents are encouraged to make decisions, then, too much variation of the information will introduce confusion to the customers!”

Okay, you might be correct. But, delve into it further.

What if agents were empowered or trained to go “off-script” to personalize the customer service experience? Is that manageable? Is it measurable?

To enhance the customer service experience, what if the philosophy of customer service was broader: to encourage agents to build relationships with customers. Whether the agent is inbound or outbound, training the agent to be aware of his or her customer’s position in the product experience requires thorough, comprehensive, situational training. If the agents are trained to recognize when there’s a moment in the interaction to relate personally with the customer, the customer’s feelings, positive or negative, about the brand and the company can be altered or improved, In other words, if the agent understands what a customer experience is from a customer’s point of view, s/he has a much better grasp of what the customer is experiencing and can respond empathetically, enthusiastically, or both to achieve the desired results of the call. After all, it is safe to say that at some point, every agent is a customer, at the mercy of the competence of the agent who is either well-trained or not to be helpful, efficient and effective, empathetic and patient.

But, is going “off-script” measurable?

If the messaging is consistent and scripted, but the interpersonal interactions that naturally occur between customer and agent are encouraged, then the success can be measured in your call resolution numbers. Perhaps you can run a pilot study with your most consistent-performing agents who show natural tendencies of empathy and use them on the phone.

Does it have to be a dreamy proposition to have agents highly-trained enough to adhere systematically to standard operating procedures with a customer in one moment, only then to be able to emote empathetically with the customer a moment later? Hardly. But, it does take intentional planning, strategizing and ongoing training to support agents with the idea of building customer relationships. So, resist the temptation to avoid #6, because empowering your agents to personalize the customer service experience could actually be the very angle you need to achieve the customer service goals for your call center.?

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To your success,

Greg Meares

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About the Author: Greg Meares

As a Sr. Consultant for Performance Connections, Inc., Greg's primary objective is to provide value to organizations that are focused on raising brand awareness. Additionally Greg works on improving the customer experience, through business process re-engineering, and call center best practices. Greg is an industry expert and is often called upon to provide his analysis and solution oriented approach to improving performance in the BPO and Call Center industry.

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