How to align your brand promise with your front-line customer service agents
Ensure your contact center customer service is on point
Customers view the phone sales and service support they get from a product or brand as an essential part of the overall buying package. Just as they wouldn’t expect to buy high-end merchandise from a brick-and-mortar store that was dirty or disorganized, they expect a service quality on the phone that matches the image of the product they’re buying.
So if you’re selling $5 flip flops that won’t last past a season, you might be able to get away with lesser-quality service. That low quality, at least, matches the brand.
However, if you’re selling quality retail products or services—and particularly if you expect your customers to be repeat buyers—your customer service experience must be as finely tuned as your logo, packaging, and slick marketing materials.
The human touch makes up the majority of a customer’s impression—a McKinsey study reported that 70% of buying experiences are based on how a customer feels they are being treated.
“What’s regularly missing [from customer service interactions] is the spark between the customer and frontline staff members—the spark that helps transform wary or skeptical people into strong and committed brand followers,” the McKinsey study reported. “That spark and the emotionally driven behavior that creates it explain how great customer service companies earn trust and loyalty during “moments of truth” … when customers invest a high amount of emotional energy in the outcome.”“That spark and the emotionally driven behavior that creates it explain how great customer service companies earn trust and loyalty.”
How can retailers more successfully capitalize on these “moments of truth,” and what should a brand experience look like for customer calls?
When we dug into this important aspect of customer service, we found five critical elements—and the ways that traditional contact centers sometimes undermine the brand promise. Review these to see if your front-line phone agents are supporting or detracting from your brand.
Call takers are brand ambassadors.
They should be at least as enthusiastic about a brand as the prospective customer. Unfortunately, contact centers often fail in this, because contact center employees are assigned to customers based on volume needs, and aren’t able to self-select to support brands they know well and enjoy.
Agents know the product inside and out.
Customers expect the person on the other end of the phone to know product details at least as well as an in-store salesperson. However, given the level of contact center turnover, which can exceed 100% annually, customer service is often flying blind when it comes to last year’s or even last season’s merchandise. They simply don’t have enough experience with the product.
Offer value-adds and value-matches.
Savvy customer service agents will not only help customers find the best product, but will also be adept at asking questions to guide customers to ideal pricing and packaging. That can include sale offers, bundles and add-ons.
By failing to ask the right questions, either due to lack of training, apathy, or the mandate to take as many calls as possible—all of which can be driven by seasonal spikes in demand—contact center employees fail to achieve the highest cart totals possible or RPCO (revenue per call offered).
Customers who have less-than-stellar experiences with one brand are much more likely to switch brands. The American Express survey revealed that 59% of customers would be willing to try a new brand for a better service experience.
Bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Customers perceive small businesses as better than large brands at customer service—in the same American Express survey referenced above, 80% of people thought small businesses place a greater emphasis on customer service.
The lesson for large companies is that they’re already starting at a disadvantage when answering a customer’s call, as customers perceive that they will be less attentive.
Armed with the knowledge of where customer service contact center agents have the ability to make or break a brand promise, customer care executives can continue elevating every aspect of the customer experience to align with the brand.