Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interpersonal issues in customer contact events.

Now that we have started removing obstacles in order to decrease customers' effort, why don't we address other aspects on this subject. For example the emotional side of customer interactions. It may be an aspect hard to measure, but how things are being said, sometimes prevail on what is being said. When the message itself is clear to a customer, he or she does not necessarily have to agree with it.

24% Of the repeat calls in the Customer Contact Council study was caused by disconnections between the customer and the customer service rep (CSR). Disconnections occur when customers would not trust the CSR's information, or the customer simply did not like the answer given, or they have the feeling the rep is hiding behind company policy. So the right emotional charge in service events is important and can save your company time and money. Not to mention a decrease in customer effort score (CES).

Some basic instructions, or a slight little change in the script can eliminate many interpersonal issues between service reps and customers. By choosing the right words and putting them in the right context the number of repeat calls can be reduced.

According to the research the Customer Contact Council conducted at a UK-based mortgage company, classifying customers into personality types reduces interpersonal issues. The CSR quickly assesses whether he or she is talking to a "thinker", "controller", "feeler" or an "entertainer". The CSR tailors the responses accordingly, so the customer recieves a personalized answer and will understand it better. Due to this startegy the number of repeat calls dropped by 40%.

An other company, Osram Sylvania skips words that tend to trigger negative reactions. These are words like "we can't, "don't", "won't" etc. A service rep will not tell a customer that "We don't have that item in stock, right now", instead the rep explains that "We will have these items in stock in a week". It might help service companies a lot exploring the emotional side of customer interactions. Implementing does not involve a lot of investments and the outcome.... well you do the math.

This post is part of a series of blogs about the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty. Which is a research project form the Customer Contact Council and has been published in the Harvard Business Review, edition july/august 2010.

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