How to Inspire Customer Trust

Customers who have concerns or complaints about products and services are often wary of companies, and figuratively suit up for battle. There are myriad concerns. Will a contact center representative understand the problem the first time or transfer me? Will I speak to someone whose first language is English? Worst of all, will an agent hang up on me? For customers with product or service issues, finding someone to turn to is often problematic.

According to Ron Strandin, CEO of Envision, there are several things contact centers in particular can do to instill confidence that issues will be handled to a customer's satisfaction. Contact centers now need to 'prove it,' he says.

"We've always used quality monitoring and coaching to find best practices for agents to be effective and [offer] great customer experience," Strandin says. "Now we're adding available data to even further improve effectiveness and identify trends to get the true voice of the customer and improve customer experiences.

"New systems and processes can disrupt how agents process calls," he adds. "But integrating data capture and analytics into existing systems such as ticketing systems or CRMs can greatly improve customer experiences. Training is only effective if the lessons are based on objective data and utilizing that data to show why processes are effective."

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, says that there is no question that there are concerns about service quality and trust.

"Given the amount of money that organizations are investing in delivering service, you would think that they'd be able to deliver good service. The catch is that people are measuring the wrong things," Fluss says. "They are looking at things from the company's eyes instead of from the eyes of the customer. Things will stay the way they are because companies don't even realize that what they're doing is wrong."

In a lot of cases, companies focus on meeting goals such as KPIs or other factors, Fluss says. However, more and more companies are realizing the value of social media.

"A valuable component of social media is that it brings companies' attention to issues that they really didn't have the ability to capture and identify in the past," Fluss says. "The painful part is from the public, but if companies act on it, and do it on a timely basis, it really can be a huge benefit for the organization."

Denis Pombriant, founder and principal analyst of Beagle Research, echoes these sentiments.

"The contact center is an apt [term]; it's no longer a call center," Pombriant says. "The contact center needs to become a multimodal disciplinary place where social media, emails and phone calls, and other kinds of communications come together."

Many companies are taking advantage of creating communities, he adds. When a company sets up a community, it can use peer assistance. Often peers are helping other customers resolve issues not to get paid but because of a desire to be helpful," Pombriant says.

Such peer communities may be company sponsored, or they could be a more generic community on Facebook or other social media site, depending on the product or service being discussed. Many organizations are discovering that knowledgeable customers make very good service people, Pombriant says. "If you know an answer or a solution to a customer that somebody puts on a community site, chances are reasonable that a peer could say, 'I had that problem and here's how I fixed it.'"

Some or one of these solutions may be right for your company as one size does not fit all. Still, these are compelling ideas to explore when building the bridge to inspiring customer trust and garnering loyalty.

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