You can’t control your customers decisions, but your agents can

You can’t control your customers decisions, but your agents can – Stephen Pace, Managing Director, SJS Solutions are certain critical times in the relationships between a business and its customers when a customer will make a decision to continue or cease dealing with the company. These can occur at many points during the relationship, but frequently they occur during a service call, typically with a call or contact centre. We refer to these occasions as “moments of truth”. How they are dealt with can have a huge impact on long term client relationships, reputation and profitability.

Here we will look at some of the more important aspects of these moments of truth, and how we can help our call centre agents deal with them successfully, for instance by providing visual communications tools which deliver business intelligence, key messages and influential metrics.

Contact centres are only as good as the quality of their agents, agents who have the power to control your customers’ decisions. However much we invest in other aspects of the business; however good our brands, products or services; when it comes to that pivotal point in the life of your customer relationship when there is a chance they might move to your competitor, the only person who can influence this decision is your agent. The way in which your agent responds at the moment of truth says all that is to be said about how your company relates with its customers.

Moments of truth can arise for many different reasons, for instance: the customer has experienced a service failure; a competitor has contacted your customer; the customer has discovered an alternative solution that he believes to be cheaper or better; or even because the customer is having a bad day. Moments of truth occur many thousands of times a year, and there is only one chance to win each one of them. Over 80% of customers begin doing business with a competitor following poor customer experience, so having the ability to identify and anticipate moments of truth is crucial if you aim to develop a long term positive relationship with your customers.

Crucial in this are the speed, accuracy and quality of the response. While speed, accuracy and quality are always important, in moments of truth they are even more so. Customers will already be experiencing levels of dissatisfaction and so are likely to be primed to be even more demanding and motivated to punish perceived bad service.

Call and contact centre agents have many qualities and are able to punch considerably above their weight as measured by their pay grade. One of these qualities is the ability to sense when our customers are starting to doubt us, and being able to handle the situation accordingly; however they can only act optimally if they always have all the information they need, and do not have to hunt for it. Having the right information available in real-time allows agents to quickly and confidently provide reasons for delays, service failures or other problems and to regain customer trust.

This isn’t new. We have discussed issues such as these before, though over recent years the trend towards higher levels of customer empowerment has placed even more emphasis on the need to deliver excellence. The technology is available to enable call and contact centers to provide agents with the right kind of quality information. By using effective, fit for purpose, visual communications tools we are able to pass key messages and metrics to agents. This enables them to provide accurate, quality information to customers and ensure every moment of truth they encounter builds trust and drives loyalty.

The question that remains is why do so many call and contact centers choose not to use this technology or choose to cobble together hard to decipher reports and dashboards, simply frustrating and confusing agents? Agents are far more important than their pay grade suggests, therefore, surely they deserve the best possible tools and an engaging environment that promotes making informed decisions?

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