Lexi Emmons Sr. Director, Customer Experience, Bright Horizons
If you had asked me in 2010 if contact centers would be relevant in 2020, I would have said they were on their way out. As our customers keep talking to us though, it is clear that our contact centers’ value is based on fundamental human needs. Customers want to talk to us and to be heard by us. As innovative technology touches each moment of our lives, contact centers continue to evolve to provide unique human experiences. Our customers and our employees are counting on us to provide technology that supports these person-to-person moments.
People Want to Talk to People Listen. Listen more. Listen actively.
Demonstrate to the customer that you heard what they said.
Repeat it back to them in their own words.
We want our customers to feel heard.
It’s reflected in how we train people to interact on the phones as we stress the need to listen.
When your customers are upset, most of the time they are asking to be heard. Years in contact centers have shown me customers ask for a supervisor when they feel ignored or misunderstood. As soon as someone takes the time to listen all the way through without rushing to a solution, the anger in the conversation evaporates. The need to be heard is a deep human need, and it isn’t going away.
By thinking about their customers and recognizing their situations, organizations can drastically improve their products and services
Consider the efforts organizations make to better understand their customers by developing customer segments and personas. By thinking about their customers and recognizing their situations, organizations can drastically improve their products and services. But the truth is, I’ve never met the average customer, and neither has anyone else.
People are varied, and the context of their everyday lives adds more uniqueness to each interaction. All models of process improvement and automation face limitations when they are put up against the individual contexts of people. As the saying goes, you can never step into the same stream twice. So it goes you will never have identical customers on the phone. You need to be where your customer is, down to the unique context they are in when they reach out to you. You want people, supported by the right technology, talking to people.
People Plus Tech Balances the Equation
While customers need to be understood in their own context, focusing on this alone is taking a step backward. To get the most value out of person-to-person communication, organizations must employ the best technology to communicate with customers.
One of the major obstacles to providing great customer experiences is inconsistency from contact center employees. It’s the negative side of the flexibility we are providing our customers. With no guidance or constraints, each response is as likely or valid as the next. This is where tech helps us ensure we are consistently creating the experience our customers want.
Knowledge base systems provide information just in time to the contact center employee, and these systems provide the answer with the highest probability of success. Speech and sentiment analysis help us determine what works and allow us to get ahead of issues before they get out of hand. We can’t get away from the inconsistency that our own employees introduce, and in fact we want it. We can direct these personalized conversations to the best outcomes with the right strategy and technology.
There is tremendous value in using technology to handle tedious, repetitive work. Contact center employees don’t like resetting passwords, and customers are annoyed to be making the call at all. This is a situation where tech is used to improve everyone’s lives. A quick call, no interaction between people involved, and we are good to go. Using tech this way is far more efficient, more cost effective, and more fulfilling for both customer and employee.
If someone you personally cared about used your organization’s product or service, you might give them individual help, but you can’t give that personal touch to all 1,000 or 1 million of your customers. However, contact centers with the right technology give you the ability to provide your customers with that personal connection and expert care.