Great customer service is a prerequisite to keeping customers in the near-term. But to drive truly long-term loyalty, brands need to create a visceral, meaningful experience that connects with customer emotions. That extends across all customer touch points and interactions – from personalizing rewards to training service agents to deliver memorable interactions.
A critical part of my role as Connexions’ SVP of Service Delivery and Contact Center Operations is to continuously evolve and enhance our ability to foster, nurture and cultivate an authentic and enriching customer service experience. And in my experience, I’ve found that a common thread extending across all standout service experiences is creating the feeling that we’ve gone above and beyond to make customers feel cared for when resolving issues.
A particular example of this comes to mind. Our call center representative (CCR) had helped a young couple after they faced challenges checking-in to their hotel while on their dream honeymoon. They arrived at the hotel after hours of travel and with very little sleep only to find that their suite had been given away. After contacting us, our CCR worked for hours with the customer to find comparable hotels, displaying true empathy for the customer’s frustrations and listening diligently to her needs – instead of finding the quickest but perhaps not the most customer-centric solution. Our representative logged overtime to help resolve the issue, staying until the customer was happily situated in a new hotel suite. After that experience, the customer was so pleased with the service she received, she proclaimed that she’d never go anywhere else. Our service commitment and capabilities, supported through training, created an emotional connection with the customer and forged stronger bonds with our client’s brand.
Keeping customers happy and maintaining a positive relationship doesn’t always occur naturally. It requires proactive training to help agents mitigate situations before they become problematic. Your agents are on the front line, interacting directly with your customers. They should be trained and empowered to act as ambassadors of the program, believing and representing the brand’s values and offerings. Our Operations, working in conjunction with Quality and Training, continually identify trends and calibrate our agents’ approach to ensure everything is aligned and delivering to our client’s expectations.
This process of service evolution and optimization is ongoing and thus carries associated costs. Which brings me to one of the most common hurdles clients face when trying to improve their customer experience process: containing operational costs while still delivering an excellent customer interaction. To keep a program running efficiently, it must have a sustainable infrastructure and measurement tools in place. Focusing on investments in knowledge management, training simulations, multimedia, content development and data mining, as well as investments in the right people, can assist in reducing errors and rework.
Understanding the benefits of these investments from both hard and soft dollar savings is extremely important. That means getting senior leadership buy-in early in the process to ensure there is enough support and resources allocated to serve the customers that drive your business.
Did you know that when consumers receive what they perceive as an appropriate response to a negative customer service experience, 90% say they are likely to stay with a brand? Learn more about customer experience and compensation in our latest whitepaper, “The Art of Keeping Customers.”