The Psychology Behind Our Customer Contact Center
Mirroring – The behavior in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Turn subconsciously into consciously, and you have yourself a wonderful feature to deploy while handling customer care.
The Best vs. the Worst
One of the most memorable moments in my career was the day when a contact center agent managed to do the best possible – and the worst possible – job in the same phone call, which is pretty impressive. An outraged customer had called about an order that he did not receive and spent several minutes explaining in detail how angry he was with the company and blaming the agent for not being willing to help. The agent kept calm, sincerely apologized to the man for his experience, and tried to turn the tables by listening quietly and then offering a fitting solution. It worked! In fact, it worked so well that the customer eventually apologized for his behavior, but that’s when the agent committed a faux pas, in refusing to accept the apology. Ouch! Needless to say, the call took downward spiral from there. What a shame.
Soft Skills Matter
Proper managing starts with proper selection. A contact center agent should not be hired strictly on experience or language skills, but also on their willingness to listen, to make the customer feel heard, and their ability to not take criticism personally. Customer care is about more than knowing all the products’ ins and outs. Anyone can make a call script and product specs their own, but not everyone can read a customer within seconds and know exactly what they need, without even seeing them in person. Do they have time for an extensive conversation? Can you call them by their first name? What type of product user are they? What language level fits best? In other words, mirroring the person on the other end of the line.
Both Ends of the Line
Another element I’ve found to be very important over the years: whether the agent is a user, or potential user, of the product they represent. Are they sporty, bringing their cameras and recording gear along while mountain biking or skydiving over the weekends? Have they recently welcomed a child into the world and do they use baby products? If the answer is yes to specific questions for specific products, you have yourself an agent with affinity to the product. The most valuable knowledge comes with experience. An agent actually using the same kind of product knows the users’ needs and the product’s weak spots. They know the right questions to ask and are able to connect the dots.
A third key element to good customer care – and one that is often forgotten – is the emotional value of the product. A non-working camera is merely an inconvenience to someone sitting at home, but a disaster for someone about to embark on a spectacular vacation or honeymoon. In that case, the broken camera is not just an inconvenience: it deprives them of recording memories. An agent should be capable of judging the urgency of the problem and offer a fitting solution, even if the customer might seem unreasonable. Identifying the problem, the urgency for correction, and combining those with finding the right words to communicate the message (pausing someone by using their name, “Ms Jones, could we…” instead of “I’m sorry, could we…”), can make a huge difference to one’s mood and willingness to listen.
Putting it All Together
There’s a lot to take into account when it comes to managing a customer contact center, or to use a better phrase, a customer engagement center. Finding a balance between the hard skills and the soft skills is important. Not only offering the right solution, but also creating ambassadors while at it. That’s what we aim to do every day here at ModusLink, combine the best of both worlds.
Want to learn more about our Contact Centers? Want to see how ModusLink compares to the competition when it comes to providing superior customer service? Have more general questions our about services? Send us a note. We’re happy to talk more.
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