The Difference Between Average Customer Service and EXCELLENT Customer Service...

If you run a contact center then I am sure you want to provide excellent customer service.  I have never met a contact center that didn’t think about and strive for better customer service.  However, many of us feel that we are still rending too much average customer service.  Is there something that can be done to improve customer service and achieve excellence?  Yes.

Regardless of the topic being discussed, at the very core of a customer service experience is two people having an interaction - a contact center agent and a customer.  The most significant factor that can influence whether or not a customer interaction is going to be excellent is the agent.  If you ever ask an excellent customer service agent how they achieve excellence with so many customer interactions, they will usually give you answers like, “because I love my job”, or “because I love to serve customers”.  But that doesn’t really lead us anywhere meaningful. You have to dig deeper.

As I have searched deeper looking for the secrets of excellent employees and what makes them tick I have stumbled across something profound…but not surprising.  Excellent employees are "excellent" because they know not only HOW to do a great job, but they also understand WHY they do what they do for customers.  Those agents who can understand what the customer is feeling and why the customer needs help are the agents that excel in serving customers.

There are lots of ways to make sure that your agents know HOW to handle contacts.  The mechanics of how to handle a contact and the controls you have in place ensure that they are following protocol.  It is also fairly easy to measure that they are following the proper steps for how to handle a contact…but it doesn’t always ensure an excellent customer interaction.   An excellent customer experience is going to happen when the agent understands why they are serving the customer.

For example, take a customer interaction where the customer wants to buy a new product.  They are excited about the product and want to get it as quickly as possible.   The agent is fully capable of handling the order, getting the information, and being pleasant on the phone.  But the excellent interaction happens when the agent has the extra real excitement in their voice and helps the customer get the product as soon as possible.  This could be by upselling a faster method of shipment because they are genuinely trying to help the customer, not because it is part of the script.

Another example; the customer is upset on a helpdesk or support call because of a computer that isn’t behaving.  Chances are the agent is fully capable of walking the customer through troubleshooting and proposing solutions to solve the problem, but the excellent service interaction happens when the agent can act with just that little bit of extra urgency and exhibit even greater genuine patience because they can understand that the customer feels helpless and just wants the computer to work.

Make sure and take time to not only train your agents HOW to do their jobs, but also help them understand WHY they are serving the customers. Allow your agents to meet customers and come to a personal appreciation for the customers who call your contact center.  Those agents that can understand the customer and fully appreciate why they are calling will deliver excellent customer service.  Then you will see the customer satisfaction delivered by your center increase.

Have you ever had a customer service experience where you felt like the agent understood why you were calling and was genuinely interested in helping you?  Was it an excellent interaction?  Of course, that was rhetorical question.