Nothing will change until something changes.

By : Rudy Vidal | | Category : Contact Center Management Customer Experience Extreme Customer Satisfaction Voice of the Customer

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One of the most common hurdles in trying to improve the customer experience, is that we view the customer’s situation through our own internal filters, limitations, policies and generalization. In effect, we can hear the customer but what we “know”, doesn’t let us listen.

Those that touch the customer daily know more than anyone about what the customer considers important. As surprising as it may be however, I find that those that touch our customers every day are not the ones designing the customer experience. Those that decide are often somewhat removed and rely on their “past experience” to make the right decision.

Some time ago, I gave a contact center manager a challenge to transform the customer experience with the representative by only changing the rep’s greeting. At first, the feeling was that the greeting could not change the experience. The content of the experience was so much more important than the greeting that it could not be overshadowed. Just to be nice, she played along. After considerable thinking and word-smithing, the new greeting was surprisingly similar to the original. The reasons for the measured change were all logical and full of merit, backed by experience and knowledge in customer service.

Because I had done this exercise before and new the potential results, I pressed on. Otherwise, I would have likely agreed with the logic and “let sleeping dogs lie”. Instead, I provided an idea for the new greeting. “Hello, thank you for calling XYZ, my name is Rudy Vidal. I am committed to resolving your issue today, please let me help you.” This new greeting was received with raised eyebrows and determined to be “corny”. I agreed it could be “corny” , but in whose eyes?

To a contact center person who is aware of all the difficulties associated with actually resolving an issue, it may sound corny. But to a customer who is having a bad day, who has just gotten escalated and has lost hope of resolving her issue, this greeting could be comforting, perhaps even surprising. It could disarm a person who is ready to take two full minutes to expound, at high volume, why she is so upset. At the very least it is unexpected.

We tried it in a small group of representatives. Customer Satisfaction increased by double digits, representative satisfaction did the same, first contact resolution went up.

Sometimes, it is difficult to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. We see their situation, only through our own. We try to walk in their shoes, but fail to remove ours.

By the way, the most surprising aspect of that experiment, was the effect it had on the representatives. They were more loyal to the customer, more engaged in the solution, more committed. First call resolution went up, not because empowerment policies changed, but because the representatives changed. What they said to the customer changed what they did.

Two suggestions:

  • Make sure to include people that directly touch customers in the creation of new solutions.
    Have them represent the customer without regard to internal limitations or
    common knowledge.
  • Try new things, after all nothing will change until something changes.

Rudy Vidal
Committed to XCL