Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Customer Service Matchmaking

Image courtesy of sofialexandra
I originally wrote today's post for Mattersight. It was published on their blog on May 29, 2015.

Placing a call to customer support just got a little nicer and a little easier.

Think about the last time you called a company's customer service number. Did you feel like you connected with the rep who answered the phone? Did the approach the rep took with you fit how you talk to others? Did your personalities mesh or clash?

Now, think about the next time you need to call. Does it make you cringe?

I know how painful it can be to call customer service. There's the IVR menu that requires 17 prompts to get to the rep. And then the wait time for a rep to actually take/answer your call. Then the rep asks you questions that he should already know the answers to, based on the number you called from or the information you input through the IVR. And the time it takes to understand the issue, never mind to resolve it. All the while, you hope that the rep is patient, helpful, and nice. And more.

The following outlines four things that companies need to remember as they design the customer service experience.

1. First impressions are so important
What is the first thing that you want your customers to know, hear, see, or experience with/about your brand? I can guarantee you that it's something positive. If that first impression isn't positive, then the chance that they'll pursue a(nother) purchase or a relationship is slim to none. No. Let's just call it what it is; the chance is none. The first impression sets the tone for what lies ahead; it sets expectations. Make it a great one!

2. Treat customers the way they want to be treated
The Platinum Rule states: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them, not as you would have them do unto you. Contrary to the Golden Rule, which focuses on treating others the way you want to be treated, the Platinum Rule recognizes that we don't all want to be treated the same, that we want to be treated the way we want to be treated. This Rule is much more empathetic.

3. Personalize the experience for the customer
We are all different. We all have different needs, different feelings, different thoughts, different preferences, different perceptions, etc. As such, we want and need to be treated differently. Deliver a different experience to/for different people.

4. Train for skills but hire for attitude
You know the drill: Hire for attitude, train the skills. Get the right people in the door - not just those folks who fit your culture or your values but also those who truly want to be there, for the right reason. Hiring people with great attitudes (nice, friendly, professional, willing to help, courteous, empathetic, etc.) will help them connect with customers much easier than those folks with a bad attitude that no one wants to be around or talk to. Hire for attitude. Happy employees are more likely to yield happy customers.

These four items are important for any call center (or retail outlet, or for that matter, anywhere  frontline staff are interacting with customers) to embrace. Wouldn't it be cool if there was a tool to help your call center with a couple - if not all - of these?

Well, there is. And it is cool.

Mattersight developed an award-winning solution, Predictive Behavioral Routing, that automatically matches customers to like-minded reps. Using algorithms that analyze customer speech for tone, tempo, and syntax to identify the customer's personality type and behavioral preferences, Mattersight can easily and instantly route each caller to agent who has demonstrated a high level of rapport with that type. When that match is made, agents can more easily and more genuinely help customers; the whole process becomes more efficient, and without a doubt, this makes for a better experience for customers.

Forrester researched - and developed a case study based on - Mattersight's predictive behavioral routing and discovered that companies that used this system experienced four benefits:
  1. incremental revenue
  2. reduced customer service cost and effort
  3. improved customer satisfaction
  4. reduced hiring costs due to a decrease in turnover
Not only does this tool improve the customer experience, but it enhances the employee experience, as well. When reps are paired with customers they're easily able to communicate with, there's an increase in positive interactions, which translates to a greater sense of pride because they are able to perform their jobs better.

It's a win-win all around. And you can see how this system can help companies deliver on the four customer experience design requirements I outlined above.

The bottom line is that people buy from people; and people especially like to buy from - or interact with -  people they like and connect with.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. -Mother Teresa


6 comments:

  1. Hmmm.

    "...automatically matches customers to like-minded reps. Using algorithms that analyze customer speech for tone, tempo, and syntax to identify the customer's personality type and behavioral preferences, Mattersight can easily and instantly route each caller to agent who has demonstrated a high level of rapport with that type."

    I am pondering the rep that is assigned to my call when I growl "Just get me a *#&%*# rep!" into the headset.

    Rep: How ya #*$&@ doing, Ms. Simon, how can I help you today?"

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Sarah

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    1. LOL. Great point, Sarah. I'm guessing the match isn't exact quite at that level! ;-)

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  2. I'm a little with Sarah, maybe I shouldn't be so sceptical, but wouldn't it be better to fix the problems so the call doesn't happen in the first place rather than investing in technology to route it to a sympathetic agent?

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  3. Hi Annette,
    I'm with Sarah and James in my skepticism about this sort of technology. As people and in our everyday lives we learn to deal with and be friends with all sorts of different people and we're pretty good at it. Why can't we just help people just be better at dealing with all sorts of different types of folks?

    It feels like the rationale for using this type of tech is that it would be cheaper to invest in it rather than invest in the betterment of employees.

    Adrian

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    1. You make a great point, Adrian. If you're going to be in a customer-facing role, then you should be able to adapt to the customer in front of you - and be empathetic, friendly, willing to help, and more. I suppose that's more reason to hire for attitude, train for skills. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen very often.

      Again, in an ideal world...

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