A new study by Calabrio reports that the majority of call center employees don’t feel trained to handle customer problems, making their jobs stressful and demotivating. Chances are your call center employees feel the same way—especially if you train like most companies do.
The new report, “The Health of the Contact Center: Agent Well-Being in a Customer-Centric Era,” revealed that 56% of the 1,000 respondents in the U.K. and U.S. said complicated customer issues are their most significant challenge. Not only that, 60% felt that the company didn’t train them to deal with the problems they encounter and that feeling unprepared makes them feel stressed. Worse yet, they are disengaged as a result and 52% said that their employers aren’t doing enough to turn things around.
In other words, call center employees are under attack, unprepared, and unhappy—and employers are unresponsive.
Why Am I Not Surprised?
I am not surprised by any of these revelations. We see this sort of thing all the time in our global Customer Experience consultancy. We work with our clients’ Customer Experience team to design a Customer Experience program we want, complete with detailed customer emotion outcome goals but after we roll it out, the customer-facing team carries on as usual, doing what they always do.
After we saw this pattern emerging, we decided that it was not enough to design the deliberate Customer Experience. We must also train the team to deliver the experience deliberately. I’m happy to report that when we changed our strategy for implementation, we did improve our emotional outcomes, but not just for customers. It turns out, when you train your employees HOW to deliver the Customer Experience you designed, you improve the emotional outcome for employees as well.
Design, Then Disseminate
My regular readers know, the design phase of the Customer Experience requires two essential things. First, it demands a belief that emotions are the most significant influence (over 50%) of the outcome of a Customer Experience. Second, it involves a commitment to a customer focus. Part of this customer-focus necessitates an Outside-In approach, i.e., participating in the experience as if you were a customer, to see what emotions your present experience evokes when, and how these moments affect the emotional outcome. Also, the outside-in approach often reveals areas that need a re-design to deliver a predetermined emotional result.
However, you waste all of this effort if you don’t share what you have learned with the people that deliver the experience. Your customer-facing employees must be able to recognize these moments and the verbal and nonverbal cues that communicate how customers are feeling. They must also have the tools to address those emotions, particularly when they aren’t going in the right direction for your desired outcome. These ‘tools’ include soft skills, like empathetic listening, better communication, and specific actions and phrases to apply to the situations.
In my experience, the soft skills I mentioned are an area too often neglected in employee training. There is often only a short time, if any at all, devoted to these critical bits of customer interaction. Moreover, call center employees’ specific actions to achieve a desired emotional outcome—meaning phrases, cadence, and tone, to name a couple—are skipped altogether. However, it is precisely these details that can make or break your emotional outcome in the Customer Experience for both the customers andyour employees. We developed a training called Memory Maker that addresses these soft-skill areas in great detail.
Customer Experience Champions Should Champion Call Center Employees
Call center employees have a complicated job. They must fix customers’ problems, charm customers while they do it, and encourage customer loyalty, all without the benefit of face-to-face interaction to create a connection. Not surprisingly, many of them feel unprepared to deliver and frustrated. Moreover, the employers appear to do nothing to relieve their employees.
It is vital to ensure the people interacting with customers must have what they need to do their job. The new study shows that improving the employee experience for call center employees is up to the champions of Customer Experience. It starts with understanding customer emotions, planned by deliberate design, and delivered via detailed training. Anything less is well, probably what you have right now.
Are you in a Customer facing role? Have you received effective training that has made it easier to deal with difficult situations? Please share your knowledge in the comments below.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX
“Contact Center Employees Warn Increasingly Complex Customer Problems and Lack of Support Will Impact the Brand Experience New Calbrio Study Reveals complicated Customer issues are the number one…” markets.businessinsider.com. 13 November 2017. Web. 21 November 2017. <http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/Contact-Center-Employees-Warn-Increasingly-Complex-Customer-Problems-and-Lack-of-Support-Will-Impact-the-Brand-ExperienceNew-Calabrio-study-reveals-complicated-customer-issues-are-the-number-one-1007857555>.