Especially During the Holidays
With the stress that surrounds the “most wonderful time of the year” and the need to get that special something for that special someone is reaching critical mass. It pushes contact centers to a breaking point. Often we buttress our forces with trained and well-meaning temporary teams to soften the blow of hordes of callers, tense and angry, because the latest and greatest toy is out of stock or the batteries are actually not included.
This should be a time to garner new and loyal customers and polish your brand, but the utter deluge of volume causes tolerances to be reduced, tempers to flare and a normally civil customer engagement to turn ugly. What to do?
To cite a favorite quote of mine, this is à propos to any and all customer engagements:
At the end of the day people don’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
During high volume times of the year, or campaigns, it is important to connect with the customer and do it quickly. Connecting to the customer? Yes. During this hectic time of year it’s a win big/lose big proposition. Your organization is on the big stage of customer care. Actually displaying empathy and conducting yourself as if the customer—the lifeblood of your business, was standing in front of you and you acting accordingly during Q4, and under pressure, will either make you a hero or a stooge in the eyes of your customers.
Customers know you’re busy as well during the holidays. Use that to your advantage. If you make the customer feel special and unique, and resolve their issue efficiently, the emotional pendulum swings in your organization’s favor. Not only will your handle time decrease, but your NPS will reward your efforts.
So, that sounds great. How does one make a contact center empathetic and efficiently resolve issues during peak times?
- Empower your agents with the authority to resolve issues. Give agents the tools to sound confident, that confidence will resonate with the customer. Give the customer the feeling that their voice has been heard and their issue is being promptly and professionally handled.
- Avoid canned responses. People as a whole want to be recognized as individuals. If a customer feels as though your organization is treating them as an individual with an individual’s needs and you fairly resolve their issues, it will boost customer satisfaction.
- No one likes that painful awkward silence. Prepare your agents with the realities of the back office life cycle, especially during peak volume. During that awkward silence, keep it social and light hearted. Prepare a few questions that are appropriate for the engagement and season.
- Make sure your customer expends as little energy as possible to reach you and resolve his issue. Coordinate your IVR with CRM. Hone your skills based routing and adequately staff your social media and other contact channels.
At the end of the day, make the customer feel like they are an individual, their issues are important, and resolve the issue with as little effort on the part of the customer as possible.
During peak volume, or at any time of the year, whatever your customer care channel of choice is, the buck stops with your agent. To your customers, in this hyper fast world accelerated during the holidays, agents are expected to be the first and last contact of the customer engagement. A seemingly effortless first call resolution with an empathetic agent who acts as if he’s the president of your organization will make your organization a hero in the customer’s mind.