Each customer care interaction boils down to two elements: in the red corner of the ring, The Customer, all enraged and ready to strike; in the blue corner, The Agent, who represents a specific company and is ready to get hit.
It cannot be stressed enough how important the role of your customer care agent is: no matter how much management talks about customer experience, at the end of the day those who actually get in contact with customers are the agents, and they have immense power to create (or to destroy) satisfaction and loyalty.
This is why it becomes fundamental to provide the customer care team with appropriate training, which renders them able to walk the tight rope between being consistent with the corporate policy and being able to solve problems in their own personal way.
It’s extremely easy for a company to print out a tidy document that spells out everything that agents CANNOT do. It’s more difficult to identify the right strategy, without tying them down to a standard set of actions devoid of personality and often unable to adapt to specific situations. The right kind of training should aim to teach each and every agent how to develop his own specific way to deal with customers.
Recognize and specialize
Agents are people with very specific sets of abilities and experiences. They are not equally skilled and they do not have a preset amount of patience. Some might be great on the phone, soothing and clear to hear, while others might be technical gurus. For some multitasking three different chats at the same time could be a nightmare, while for others it could be just a way to speed up work a little while making it more interesting and fun.
To assess and recognize specific abilities is fundamental in order to help agents fully realize their potential: improving is essential, of course, but nobody can overturn his personality!
Providing the right tools
Even the most expert team is by no means able to make miracles, if left alone. A great customer experience needs powerful tools, both in terms of technical resources (the right multi-channel software solution) and in terms of knowledge base. A good multi-channel solution shouldn’t just enable customers to ask for help through a plethora of different media… it should also give agents the possibility to integrate all these different conversations in a single database, and to easily monitor the complete history of every customer’s interaction.
No point in talking about multi-channel if every time the customer needs to start the conversation from the very beginning, he gets a different answer and he is dealt with with a completely different policy!
This is why having a single, reliable, internal knowledge base for every channel and every situation is vital and provides a great way to avoid inconsistency between agents and channel, offering clients a consistent level of quality in the help you are providing. Again, giving technical information should be just the beginning: a good knowledge base should also help agents to address specific situations, to set up the proper tone, to identify the correct way to relieve tension, and so on.
Of course, there’s no way to provide your agents with a knowledge base that tells them what to do, always, every single time. And if they have to come and ask the general manager or the technical team for each specific case, customer care would become hell for the whole company!
The only solution is to provide agents with a training that goes beyond sheer knowledge and actually empowers them, offering them the freedom to decide and the tools to do it in the right way.
Every interaction is completely unique and cannot be planned out: agents should be free to express their personality without having to rely on pre-set policies. This is the only way to offer truly excellent customer care, and to provide your clients with that uniquely human feeling that the word “experience” deserve to have.