How to lead contact centers with empathy for transformational CX

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Last week, we were joined by Ben Devey, Director of Customer Experience at Ollie, who has worked at every level of the call center with experience at both large enterprises and growing startups. He shared some excellent advice and insights gained from his professional experiences that can help companies of all sizes lead with empathy and improve the customer experience. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation.

Invest in the employee experience (EX)

Ben said companies that extend the brand values and brand experience to the contact center space deliver great customer experiences and alignment.

If agents are using antiquated systems, they’re unable to deliver great experiences. They may be inefficient and frustrated, which is passed along to the customer. Investing in the right tools and technology better equips agents to do their jobs well, improving the employee experience and the customer experience.

In short, happy agents = happy customers. Investments like Glance’s Guided CX can help both agents and customers by putting agents right on your customer’s screen when and where they need you most. It can lead to faster, better service that’s better for the customer, the agent, and the organization as a whole.

Read: How to bring human CX to digital spaces

Know that the call center is more than customer service

“I love it when we think of our customer support as an extension of the brand and the brand voice,” Ben said.

While key metrics like Call Handling Time (CHT), First Call Resolution (FCR) are important to track; they don’t tell the whole story. CSAT and NPS dig a little deeper but still aren’t comprehensive.

You can’t hang your hat on any one metric because the call center can offer so many different benefits when done well. Obviously, it can resolve customer issues, but it can also reduce customer effort, boost customer lifetime value, improve customer retention, and build loyalty. Plus, the call center is a gateway to the voice of the customer, with powerful insights that can inform the entire product/business.

Lead with empathy (and fun!)

Customer support groups often have to clean up mistakes that are made earlier in the digital journey or product while trying to retain customers. It can be challenging, and leading with empathy is vital and affects the entire company culture.

Some ways to lead with empathy that Ben shared include:

  • Know that as a contact center leader, you’re a voice for your organization
  • Advocate for your team
  • Professionally communicate what you’re team is experiencing
  • Listen to agents — ask what type of calls they’re struggling with and try to solve for those calls to prevent them from occurring in the first place
  • Make it fun!

That last bullet point is easy to overlook but valuable. Customer service teams can deal with very stressful situations, but Ben’s advice is to remember to make it fun. “When you’re having fun with your team, and you’ve got people smiling, there’s great energy … it’s really important,” he said.

Pay attention to every part of the customer journey

Ben regularly goes through his company’s — and his competitors’ — chat flow, text flow, email flow, and calls in. His agents always know it’s him who’s calling, but this allows him to regularly check if things are flowing the way they should or if changes need to be made.

“Sometimes I think we set up stuff and forget about it. A small change could impact the customer flow, and you want to catch it before your customers,” he said.

Being diligent and ensuring the customer experience is smooth — no matter where they’re coming from (desktop, mobile, video, etc.) — is essential and requires regular “maintenance” or check-ins as the business evolves and changes.

Read: How to use data to enhance your customers’ journey

Address issues to avoid “death by a thousand papercuts”

It’s easy to think that some of these customer experience efforts are inconsequential or minuscule, but they add up. If one customer calls in with an issue, there are probably 10 others like him that had the same issue but chose to remain silent. The same goes for employees — several may be experiencing an issue that one brings to light. Neglecting one instance may be somewhat insignificant on its own, but these issues add up and can lead to “death by a thousand papercuts.”

One challenge Ben presented was to consider how you can make your customer experience projects just 1% better. Focusing on these small wins can yield big results over time.

Watch the webinar replay to learn more from Ben about how leading with empathy can enhance the customer experience.

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