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Do these 5 things if you want more satisfied customers

I’ve spent many years listening to and analysing thousands of contact centre calls to decipher the agent behaviours that secure the highest customer satisfaction levels.

Based on this, here are the five top techniques, in my view, for achieving the Holy Grail – the top CSat5 score that represents a customer delighted with a call:

1. An appropriate acknowledgment

This isn’t false empathy; just automatically saying, ‘I’m so sorry this has happened to you’. Surprisingly, apologising endlessly doesn’t drive satisfaction levels as much as organisations think. What does make a difference is an appropriate acknowledgement of the customer emotion, because this means you’ve listened and understood. If the customer if frustrated, you acknowledge the frustration. If they are concerned, you acknowledge the concern. You don’t just want an automatic ‘so sorry’.

2. Demonstrating accountability

This is a demonstration of how you are going to solve this problem – how you’re going to ‘own’ the enquiry. So, for example, if it was an IT issue it might be, ‘well, what I’m going to do now is look at the settings, then I’ll be able to understand what’s gone wrong, and then I can find the quickest way of getting this fixed’. On paper you can have agents who may not be top performers because they spend too long on calls or don’t meet the AHT targets, but for the customer they are the standout performers because they absolutely own an issue and will not stop until they get a resolution.

As far as CSat figures are concerned, ‘owning it’ eats empathy for breakfast.

3. A concise explanation

When you look at the data, what helps hit those CSat5 targets is often the agent’s ability to explain things to customers at the right level, and tailored to their needs and understanding. Down in the 1s it’s just information overload – masses of technical detail the customer hasn’t asked for and probably can’t understand, but makes the agents feel better because they’ve demonstrated their competence and expertise on the subject. But that’s not what’s right or useful for the customer.

4. Clarity of timescale

In particular, the timescale of the next steps. Imagine your home shopping hasn’t arrived. You’re waiting at home and the contact centre agent states, ‘don’t worry, I’ve spoken to the store and they’ll be in touch soon’. Really? So how soon is soon?  Two minutes? Four hours?

There are actually two discrete behaviours here. Clarifying the next step is ‘someone will phone you’, but the timescale on that step is ‘somebody will absolutely phone you within 10 minutes’. That’s very different and delivers a completely different CSat score.

When we looked closely, we found that the biggest statistical contributor to dissatisfied calls was not the classic, ‘yeah, the agent was a bit grumpy’, as you might expect. It was because that agent didn’t define how soon ‘as soon as we can’ would be.

5. Labour inclusion – or ‘what I’m going to do now is…’

This is one we’ve done a lot of work on recently. It doesn’t really relate to contact centres, it’s more to do with fieldwork, but it’s still interesting. We call it Labour Inclusion, but really it’s ‘what I’m going to do now’. It’s the difference between a water engineer turning up at your door and silently doing something to your tap you don’t understand, or saying, ‘Ok, I’m going to test your water. This is why I’m doing it. This is the process I’m going to follow. This is what will happen next, and really it’s nothing to worry about because 99.9% of the time it’s absolutely fine. It’s just us making sure everybody’s water is as good as it can be.’

How much better is that?

This article was first published by Capita Customer Management

Photo of Andy Moorhouse

Andy Moorhouse

Head of insight at Blue Sky Performance Improvement, part of Capita

Andy is a self-confessed analytical geek. Working with companies such as Tesco, Virgin, BT, Lex Autolease, Dunelm, Wickes and many other FTSE 100 companies, Andy has pioneered a science based ‘conversation analysis’ approach to identify specifically what their top performers do differently. This has led to some tremendous uplifts in sales and customer service performance including one sales organisation hitting 150% of target.

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