If you are struggling to differentiate your brand, what is one of the most important number one things you can do? Focus on high-quality customer experiences.
According to a 2020 Gladly Consumer Expectations Report, 79% of customers say personalized experience is more important than personalized marketing, and 77% will recommend a brand that offers personal service to friends and family.
That’s because customers are willing to spend more money for a great experience than for low prices and high-quality products. And those same customers are likely to stick around year after year.
Investing in customer service can make your brand the one that customers want to do business with. When you provide value beyond making a purchase, your customers will respond positively. Let’s take a look at what this means.
Making your brand customer-focused is critical to your success. According to a HubSpot report on the State of Customer Service in 2020, today’s customers have higher expectations than ever before, according to 93% of service teams. “Customers are also smarter, more skeptical, and have more options than ever before.”
And according to CX experts in The Global State of Customer Experience 2020:
As for consumers, 70% of their buying decisions are based on customer experience, according to Cisco’s Customer Experience in 2020 report. So developing and delivering exceptional customer experiences is essential. In sales alone, poor customer service is costing companies $1.6 trillion.
However, for those companies that highlight customer service:
So what does customer service as a differentiator look like for your brand? It means a better bottom line. Customer experience is linked to happier customers, greater brand loyalty, and increased revenues. According to Salesforce, 66% of customers (82% of businesses) will pay more for a great experience.
The question then is, how do you design, manage, and optimize the customer experience in your call center to differentiate yourself from your competitors? It takes investing your time, money, and resources, but you’ll set yourself up for both short- and long-term success when done correctly.
Contact center agents can easily be taught hard skills, such as answering phones or using a script to communicate. However, teaching soft skills is more complex and can take more time and training. That’s why it’s best to hire customer service agents with excellent soft skills.
Contact center agents should have:
To hire for these customer service soft skills, you need to review resumes for soft skills, implement soft skills interview questions, and call references to crosscheck. If you do this, you should be able to accurately determine how well a potential agent will meet your needs before signing on the dotted line.
Every customer interaction is a chance to differentiate your brand. That’s why it’s essential to focus on how well your agents meet customer experience best practices on every call, within every email, and through every chat customer experience best practices. For example:
As we have discussed, customer expectations are more significant than ever before. Customers are more intelligent, impatient, and want more personalized connections with your brand. It’s essential to manage these expectations appropriately, so your customers know how their service stands up to your standards.
For example, if you can respond on live chat within 30 seconds but email within 24 hours, make that information clear. At the same time, match your ability to provide customer service to your customer. Customers have different expectations depending on the channel they use to contact you.
Make sure your performance metrics are on par with customer needs—customers don’t want to spend hours on the phone or waiting for a response on live chat while getting a reply to a Tweet can be delayed.
Emotions significantly impact your customers purchasing decisions—both positively and negatively. In fact, customers with positive feelings toward a brand become advocates (74%) and loyal customers (64%).
Emotional intelligence—the ability to optimize how a customer feels during and after a contact center interaction—is critical to customer success. That’s because our emotions influence every decision, judgment, memory, and interaction.
To demonstrate emotional intelligence in the contact center, your agents must:
Ideally, you would create a benchmark for emotional intelligence at each customer touchpoint. Then, you would monitor and quantify your agent’s success at measurably reaching that particular benchmark. Scorecards are a great way to do this by offering you a way to measure how well the agent recognized the customer’s mood, how well they met the customer’s needs, and how they changed the customer’s perception positively or negatively.
A call center script can be an invaluable tool for interacting with customers when agents start a call center script can be an invaluable tool for interacting with customers. And even as agents familiarize themselves with their roles, scripts are fantastic for encouraging information consistency, offering guidance, and directing language for everyday situations.
The key for call center management is to ensure the script is used when and how it works best:
When a call center script empowers your agents to be more effective, it can increase your customer satisfaction scores and feel entirely customized to each customer. Check out these 15 call center script best practices to get started.
Soft skills do not magically appear over time. You have to create a training plan to help your agents develop the skills they need through self-study and live training. The key to soft skills training is consistency, practice, and commitment. Then, after just eight months of this training, you can expect a 250% return on your investment due to increased productivity, better efficiency, and improved employee retention.
To create an effective soft skills training program, there are six steps you need to take:
As we explained in Tip #6, soft skills training is critical to success. Unfortunately, only 65% of companies provide practical tools for training. It can be challenging to teach your agents how to go above and beyond to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
A call center learning management system (LMS) can change the game by helping you educate your agents on everything from compliance to customer engagement, soft agent skills, and performance. An LMS allows you to manage, track, and achieve your customer experience and call quality goals anytime and anywhere through course management and blended learning.
With an LMS in place, you can positively impact your call quality outcomes by:
Empowering your agents is one of the easiest ways to help them feel appreciated and valued. And when you create a culture of empowerment, your agents feel supported and able to make and implement decisions that positively impact the customer experience. This results in:
To empower your call center agents to provide this improved customer service experience, it starts with not micro-managing. You have to give your agents authority and trust to get their jobs done. Then, please share the tools they need to do their jobs, such as contact monitoring scorecards, predictive analytics, and performance analytics. Implement call center best practices alongside high-quality training (which we talked about above).
And finally: don’t penalize mistakes. Instead, ensure that your agents can work across channels and teams efficiently and quickly.
According to Marketing Week, today’s consumers use an average of six touchpoints to communicate with brands, with nearly 50% of consumers regularly using more than four. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that omnichannel customer support is critical to making customer service a differentiator for your brand. When used correctly, omnichannel support allows you to provide a seamless customer experience, offer real-time assistance, and connect with customers regardless of the service channel they use.
To implement successful omnichannel support, you have to provide real-time assistance regardless of how the customer contacts you. This requires:
Finally, how you measure success or failure within your call center is critical to the customer experience. It’s not enough to look at simple metrics such as “average handle time.” Instead, you need to know what matters when providing effective customer service that satisfies your customers.
To start, you need to measure the correct call center quality metrics and data that focus on productivity, sales, customer satisfaction, and quality. In particular, there are three QA data sections you need to monitor:
Just make sure you don’t focus on only what NOT to do. Instead, highlight what works well and train your team to implement these best practices.
Excellent customer service is more important than ever during a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. You have to be prepared to go above and beyond your normal day-to-day activities to meet your customers’ new needs and avoid tarnishing your reputation or damaging your operations.
First and foremost, you need to develop a crisis communication plan that helps you prepare your business for any crisis—large and small. This plan offers a roadmap for your management team and employees throughout the problem. From there, follow our seven crisis communication tips for excellent customer service (read more in our blog here).
An all-in-one contact center quality assurance system such as Scorebuddy offers the tools you need to ensure that customer service is a differentiator for your company. It enables your leadership team to engage with agents about their performance and opens up communication, so agents learn where and how they need to improve and how they are already succeeding.
In particular, Scorebuddy Scorecards offer the ability to monitor every customer interaction through self-evaluation. In this way, you can break down how well your agent meets customer expectations and delivers customer satisfaction. You can use Scorecards to measure traditional and non-traditional call center metrics to suit your needs, setting QA score rules and policies.
From there, you can see the anatomy of really excellent customer service, including patterns and trends for improvement. In the end, Scorebuddy empowers you to improve the customer service experience across multiple sectors.