Contact centers are responsible for creating a great customer experience and influencing the public’s perception of the company. If customers have a poor opinion of the brand, then the contact center must actively pursue improving this perception — but in today’s world, that is often easier said than done. As Gartner points out in its blog for marketers, your company’s toughest competition may be your customers’ “last best experience” – whether your company is set up to readily deliver all the perks that customers have come to expect.
However, it’s also true that no one reasonably expects perfection. Your customers are interested and invested in working with you, or else they wouldn’t be your customers. So here are six ideas to help transform negative customer perceptions into positive ones.
Enact Change Within the Contact Center
1. Mine Your Feedback
The first step is to understand where customers’ negative perceptions are coming from. You must uncover what matters most to your customers and what errors or omissions are preventing them from getting what they want from your brand. Monitor your social media pages; revisit archived survey results and customer interviews; and, if your contact center doesn’t have an ongoing customer satisfaction survey process, initiate one.
As you’re reviewing all your sources of feedback, remember that negative information is actually more valuable to you at this point: it’s directing you to the improvements that are necessary to repair their perceptions and build customer loyalty. Even the smallest changes could reap dividends, so use all feedback constructively. Finally, be on the lookout for what your customers consider to be the appropriate fixes for their concerns; otherwise, any solutions you implement might not have the results you need.
2. Update Your Agents’ Skills
Your customers’ perceptions, for good or bad, are solidified by how your agents handle interactions. Therefore, your agents must have a complete understanding of their authority levels and of the customer service principles that apply to your business. Further, they must be:
· Fully educated on product features and common customer issues
· Aware of their front-line status and trained in the “customer-centricity” of active listening, conflict resolution, and positive language
· Professional, empathetic, courteous, and capable of projecting a positive attitude
As your contact center begins this process of customer perception transformation, don’t forget to celebrate every success, no matter how small, and to continue public recognition of your team as the process moves forward.
3. Manage Expectations
Your agents will need a plan for managing your customers’ expectations around common points of frustration like wait times and service limits.
Keep in mind that:
· Customers often have different response time expectations for different contact channels; develop an understanding of how long is “too long” for your customers via text, call, email and social media.
· Overall, customers’ trust is based on your business honoring its commitments and proving itself reliable by doing what it says, admitting when a mistake has been made, and making it right.
But what if your customers’ source of frustration is outside the contact center?
Foster Change Within the Customer Experience
4. Track the Journey
When so much of your customers’ experience takes place digitally, it is critical that you understand what that experience is, through what channels they’re having it, what their goals are for the experience, and at what points they’re getting stonewalled, confused, or just choose to leave. These are critical for healing customer perception; look for the gaps between your company’s offerings and your customers’ expectations, as well as the actions that trigger complaints or negative word of mouth. Finally, start the healing process by picking the “low-hanging fruit” of small changes that will have the biggest impact across the journey, and use that momentum to attack the more complex issues.
5. Provide personalization and control
From your customers’ perspective, it’s hard to be displeased with something they can modify at will. Your research into feedback and the customer journey probably uncovered information about customer preferences, so implement what improvements you can to personalize their experience and provide them control. Examples would be to make suggestions during the customer journey based on their personal profile or to let them choose the channel for future engagement.
6. Leverage tech solutions
Automation is a clear choice for adding personalization and building proactive, seamless interaction around common transactions. However, the key is to make any technological improvements based on customer need, not the “shininess” of the technology or the impact it will have on your internal operations; again, the goal is to remove obstacles and smooth the customer journey so that customers can achieve their goals and exit the process with a positive impression of your brand.
One example of technology that provides control for your customers while it also improves processes for your agents is VHT Callback. This solution calculates estimated wait times and eliminates long hold periods by giving customers the option to schedule callbacks at times that are convenient for them; this helps each customer feel valued, which in turn builds loyalty and improves several important contact-center KPIs.