Your contact center has policies and procedures in place that you expect your agents to follow. They have been trained in your way of doing business, and receive periodical reviews and coaching to make certain they are adhering to the system.
So is it then counterproductive to suggest that you also allow agents to stray from that system, and to exercise some flexibility when it comes to doing the right thing for your customers?
It may sound that way, but contact centers that recognize there’s not a textbook answer to every customer engagement are those that are doing more for customer service than marking items on a checklist. Your agents should be empowered to make decisions, to stay on a call a few extra moments, even to break a rule every now and then, to preserve a customer relationship.
To be clear, this is discretion that should be earned, and not bestowed on day one. After an agent has been with the contact center for awhile and has shown good judgment, he or she should then be given the latitude to sometimes take action that may not be in the script.
The online shoe store Zappos is often lauded as an example of this type of customer service, and with good reason. The company seems to have located the right balancing point between efficient and consistent procedures, and thinking outside the box.
“Never take your customers for granted,” said Scott Klein, manager of the company’s Customer Loyalty Team. “Never settle. Many companies get to a point where they hit cruise control, because things are going well. Zappos realizes that customers are our lifeblood — they're keeping us in business. The moment we take our customers for granted and stop listening is the moment that a competitor steps in and pushes us out of the way.”
“Happy agents = happy customers” is a formula espoused by many in the
contact center profession, and not just agents looking for a raise.
Studies have been done in this area and the results are enlightening.
The SQM Group found that every 1% increase in employment satisfaction
resulted in a 2% increase in customer satisfaction. More...
Satisfied customers are happy customers, and that should be the goal of
every call center. Processes, rules and agent scripts should all be
prepared with that end result in mind. However, customer service should
not be limited to the following of company policy.
How many times
have you read a story about an employee who went out of his or her way
to help a customer? Often these anecdotes are picked up by local media
or go viral on YouTube, which is great free publicity for any company. More...