Five Ways to Amp Up Your Customer Conversations

Voice of the Customer

Five Ways to Amp Up Your Customer Conversations

By Elaine Cascio, Vice President  |  April 17, 2014

Regardless of channel, our conversations with customers should be consistent and polished. And it doesn’t hurt to provide that little bit extra that shows customers that they are valued.

Fill in the blanks

Too often, I’ve gotten e-mail that started with “Dear __________” or “Dear Cascio, or “Dear Mr. Elaine.” Sound familiar? With the wealth of data and tools that we have, there’s no excuse for not using my name, spelling it right, and using it correctly in correspondence.

Connect the dots

Train reps to look at the customer’s record right away to anticipate customer needs or thank them for their business. Did they just receive a late payment notice? Have they recently stayed at one of your hotels or placed an order? Land’s End garnered loyal customers by training reps to ask about a recent purchase or gift and remember special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Let customers know that they are valued and important to your company, and you’ll be guaranteed repeat business.

Make a match

Ok. It may sound like online dating, but one way to go the extra mile is to match common interests and abilities of CSRs with your customers. You may have some CSRs who are adept at working with an elderly population, or others who are in tune with the needs of another demographic. Match them to callers. If you run a P&C insurance call center, have reps who are motorcycle or boating enthusiasts handle contacts for motorcycle or boat insurance. Not only will it improve your customers’ experience, it will keep your CSRs engaged.

<subhead>Understand the journey<subhead>

What brought the customer to you today? Sometimes you can connect the dots (for example, a late payment notice), but often you need to understand what other channels they’ve traveled before they e-mailed, selected chat – or, as a last resort, picked up the phone to call. Take the time to understand their needs and what they’ve tried. If you can’t track multichannel contacts yet, at least see what they tried in the IVR, and listen to the story of their journey with a sympathetic ear. Train your reps to be empathetic and understanding of the issues, “I see you’re trying to get a replacement cable modem. Let me get that taken care of for you.”

Don’t ask them AGAIN

Finally, if you know that a customer has tried other channels before reaching you, DON’T ask for the same information again. If they’ve already entered their account number two times in two different systems, asking for it again is sure to put them over the edge. If you must ask, find out why they’re calling first, then explain to them why you need the information to take care of their request. “Ok, I can take care of that for you right now. All I need is your account number and we’ll get it squared away immediately….”

As you can see, some of these suggestions may be simple to execute, while others may require tools or technology you don’t have today.  Think about how you can get data you need to improve the customer experience today, don’t wait until you get shiny new technology. And measure success: If you train reps to check customer records right away and connect the dots, include it in your quality monitoring, too. By making better use of the tools and technology you have, as well as training your reps wisely, you can turn up the volume – and the quality – of your customer conversations.

Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (www.vanguard.net), a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology.


Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (www.vanguard.net), a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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