Communicating with customers is not just about the hard-sell or putting out fires. No one wants to hear a sales pitch every time they try and engage with your company. Newsflash, they’re looking for a great customer experience.
Having a meaningful conversation with your customers can transform your entire business.
But how exactly do you have a meaningful conversation?
Any Google search will tell you that having a proper conversation with someone involves certain factors. These can include just the right amount of talking, active listening, sharing openly, positivity and speaking in turn. There’s a fair amount of eye contact, nodding and body language involved.
In the contact center you can eliminate half of these factors. ‘Forget about making eye contact with your customer. They might as well be in a different country,’ says our CEO Nour Addine Ayyoub.
The danger here, he suggests, is that customers are treated like strangers. ‘What if you start treating them like friends?’
That’s the beginning of a good customer experience.
1. Make an emotional connection
Effective communication is about making an emotional connection. And making your customers care about your business. Basically, you need to live your vision. Even on the phone.
Part of this is proving to the person on the other end of the line that they’re dealing with a human being and not a faceless organization.
Easier said than done, right?
Not at all. Consider these simple tips that can change a phone call for the better.
- Greet your customer by name. Instantly, your customer is no longer a stranger.
- Smile. It shows in your tone.
- Call up a previous interaction or record to show you’re familiar with their history.
- Laugh. Don’t be afraid to show emotion as it can establish rapport.
- Be honest. This will come across as a sign of respect.
2. Go off script
Agent scripts are good for ticking boxes – terms and conditions, new legislation, rattling off special offers. But just like in real life, some of the best conversations are off the cuff.
Motivate your agents to live your brand and your vision and they won’t just be ticking boxes anymore. That motivation will shine through in the way they talk to your customers. Their excitement, the smile on their face – there’s nothing better than a healthy dose of job satisfaction to fuel healthy conversations.
Think back to the last time you had a great day at work. It changed the way you interacted with other people didn’t it?
Even outbound sales calls can benefit from a little improvisation. If you’re a furniture retailer, why not ask your customer what their home looks like? When was the last time they redecorated? An informal chat about home décor tips works well to sell the dream, and in so doing, the product. No hard sell required.
3. Strategic targeting
The more you cater your message to a niche audience, the more effective it will be. This has nothing to do with buying targeted lead lists. Oh no, no, no. It’s about looking at what you know about your customers from your analytics.
Identify your customer preferences in order to provide a customized experience. This includes delving into previous buying habits and past interactions, and determining their preferred channels.
This is also a good time to dust off your customer journey maps.
The more you know your customer, the easier it will be to have a meaningful conversation with them. According to Dimension Data’s 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, customer journeys should always establish the guiding principles for your CX. A big part of this should be based on customer feedback.
After all, you shouldn’t be the one to determine what works best for your customers – not when you could simply ask them.
4. Meet customer expectations
Customers hate dealing with contact centers. Fact. They hate being on hold, being transferred, having to repeat themselves 10 times and hearing the same automated message telling them how special they are 67 times.
According to intelligence provider CEB, customer effort is critical to customer loyalty. In fact, recent research found that 96% of customers who exert high effort to resolve issues become disloyal.
Delivering a good customer experience is simple. The fewer hoops you’ve put up for customers to jump through, the better you’ll look in their eyes. And if you’ve dealt with their query without much time and effort, even better.
In a nutshell, ‘good’ isn’t good enough. Look at your customer experience, your journey maps, the feedback you’ve received. Identify where the shortfalls are and fix them.
This leads us to our next point.
5. Meaningful routing
Four years ago, Nour Addine asked a question: ‘What if routing were more holistic and intelligent?’
While designing our solution, we realized the best routing system is one that learns from the information you feed it so it can determine which interactions are more important than others, which calls need to be prioritized, and which agent is the best for a specific task.
With this in mind the team created a single waiting room that considers all interactions together and intelligently prioritizes them using machine learning and the work item requirements set by the administrator. This ensures agents are selected dynamically, and that customers end up talking to the right agent to deal with their query first time.
In the contact center, it’s important not to start a conversation on the back foot. Eliminating customer effort and frustration, knowing your customer inside and out and meeting their expectations are all within your power.
Having a rewarding conversation is easy. Making it count? That’s up to you.