There are a number of issues in the Contact Center environment that agents often face when dealing with customers, regardless of the type of call center. For the average customer these days, when they call into a company’s contact center, the majority of them are facing an issue that has caused them some level of frustration. Whether it be billing issues or product concerns, those concerns are passed on to agents who are the front line to resolving those issues. The role of these agents and the desire of the companies that employ them, is to provide these customers with one call resolution and maintain the loyalty of the customers who end up on the other end of the phone.
For the agent that is responsible for that resolution, it can sometimes be challenging dealing with an upset, and sometimes, irate customer. The customer often has tunnel vision when they come on the line and, all they know is, the agent that answered the phone is the face of the corporation and is responsible for resolving their problem. For many agents in a contact center environment, if they have not been given the tools to handle upset or irate customers, the irate call can often spill into the next call where the customer simply needs a mailing address to send in a payment or needs more information about a product or service. In my years of experience and leadership in a Contact Center environment, these are the tools that I find critical to thriving in a Contact Center environment as an agent.
I have found that your first response to a customer once they have stated their concern can mean the difference between and escalated call or a call that allows you, as a rep, to provide resolution. The way that an agent reacts to the concerns of a customer are critical in moving from issue to resolution. Many agents take the bait and end up on the hook creating an escalated call for the customer. What most customers are really looking for, when the call, is someone that shows concern for their issue and reason for their call.
How do we get our agents to take control of the call and move the call and move toward the goal of resolution? I’m glad you asked. It’s very simple. React to what the customer says and Relate to their issue. For example, a customer calls in because their bill should have received a credit but instead, when they got their bill, a new charge had been created causing their bill to triple. I tell my agents to place themselves in the customers shoes when they react. My reaction would be to let this customer know, Wow I’m sorry that the adjustment was billed to you instead of being credited. I would be just as upset if it had happened to me. You’ve let the customer know that they are not alone in feeling upset and they have every right to be. You have related to their issue and now they feel as if you really care. Now, you can move forward to resolution of the issue that has been presented to you.
Now that you have reacted and related, now it is time to take ownership and move to resolution. Too many times, resolution is lost in the failure to take ownership of the issue and personally resolve it. Many agents resort to using “they” statements instead of “we” statements. I apologize that we didn’t adjust your account correctly, but if you would allow me, I will personally make sure that we get this corrected for you. We must move away from “they” and focus on “we” and “I”. The goal is to make the customer feel like you have a personal investment in their issue or concern.
Take the necessary steps to resolve the problem and be willing to own it until resolution is complete. One of the biggest complaints I hear from customers is a failure to follow up. The customer says, someone was supposed to contact me when my issue was resolved but no one did. Always follow up with your customer if it requires escalation to another department outside of your control to get a resolution. Always utilize the resources within your organization to keep your customer informed. Using these tools willnot be the FIX ALL for everything, but I feel like they are essential to helping you thrive in the call center environment.