When it comes to providing the best possible customer support, people and processes are critical to getting it right. You need to ensure you have the right agents available and armed with the right information and some experience in solving customers’ problems or helping them make purchases. But successful customer support requires more than a little human psychology. Endless studies have been carried out to find out what customers react most positively to: a friendly demeanor, or a Southern accent, or an attempt to cultivate a common interest between the agent and the customer.
Connecting with customers is an important step in a successful contact center experience. When customers are at ease, they are easier for agents’ to help, and generally more receptive to upselling and cross-selling efforts. “Put customers at ease,” however, isn’t exactly something you can order your agents to do. Some people find that this task comes naturally; others have to work harder at it.
In a recent blog post for Customer Experience Insight, Ken Dooley collected and assembled some tips from other writers regarding how customer support agents can help connect with the people they interact with. For starters, agents should remember that not every customer is the same, so they need to listen before they jump into any action.
“Try not to assume you are always correct,” wrote Dooley. “Listen to prospects and customers with a willingness to change your mind. Take on other people’s perspectives so you can really understand what they’re saying. Ask questions to be sure you comprehend fully what they’re trying to tell you. Devote your full focus on prospects and customers, and they may do the same for you. Be open to influence and you may gain influence.”
Another critical factor for connecting with customers is demonstrating empathy. When customers call, they are often perplexed or even distressed by a problem. Finding a caring voice at the other end of the call is important for them. When you’re faced with people’s problems all day long, it’s tempting to “turn off” and go into robot mode. Unfortunately, this approach will damage customer relationships.
“Show prospects and customers that you identify with them by demonstrating that you know their issues, objectives, vulnerabilities and worries,” wrote Dooley. “This level of empathy may win their trust. Absorbing someone else’s perspective may also help you develop ‘solution awareness’ so you can offer to help people achieve their goals because you have learned what they need.”
Finally, being proactive can also help engender a customer’s trust. Contact center agents, by the very nature of their jobs, can often anticipate questions or issues a customer might have before the customer even arrives at these conclusions. By solving a customer’s issue before he or she even presents it, agents will be able to establish themselves as persons of trust, and earn the customer’s gratitude by demonstrating understanding. In short, everyone likes it when they believe that someone cares about their problems.