What makes good customer service? Is it well trained agents? Is it the latest technology and database management techniques? Does it come naturally when a call center is supporting excellent products and services? Is it short hold times and high first-call resolution?
While it may be any one of those things – or all of them put together – it may be about something more human: a caring attitude. A new study by workforce management solutions provider AchieveGlobal has concluded that the emotional aspect of customer service is most critical, as one in three survey respondents said they preferred being treated well over having their issues immediately resolved.
This may go a long way toward explaining why, despite the proliferation of alternative customer contact channels, when there is a real issue, customers still prefer talking to a human being, and the call center agent who provides understanding and empathy gets the job done most effectively.
"Understanding that emotion - the human connection - is at the heart of the customer experience is key to building customer loyalty and advocacy in today's socially-connected and ever-evolving world," said Sharon Daniels, CEO of AchieveGlobal. "While slashed prices and special promotions may get consumers in the door, an inability to connect on an emotional and human level while delivering service will hamper any business' customer engagement efforts."
On the flip side, a lack of empathy and caring is often what leads to the worst customer experiences. The study, "Why Your Customers Stay or Stray: Insight From Global Customer Experience Research," found that customers rate interactions with customer support centers the lowest when there is detached emotional awareness and connection. Forty-six percent of respondents noted that what they dislike the most in a support call is the agent being rude, short, nasty, unhelpful and impatient. Using a canned script in dealing with issues was another irritant (17 percent of survey respondents reported) and hearing "no" or "I don't know" from an agent was also among the top irritants (16 percent reporting).
It’s particularly important for companies to foster positive communications today, when customers have a lot of choices and can vent their anger and frustration widely on social media.
"No matter where you are in the world, a positive customer experience is marked by respect, simplicity, solutions and responsibilities," said Daniels. "Delivering on these simple but critical expectations should be central to any company's business strategy. Consumers are emotional beings, and training customer-facing employees to recognize emotions and respond in a concerned, effective and professional manner is essential to owning the customer experience."
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