Positively Influencing Customers’ Emotional Interactions with Contact Centers

Anyone who has attended Oracle OpenWorld will attest that it can be extremely daunting. The event, held at the MosconeCenter in San Francisco, was swarming with more than 50,000 people, including customer service, cloud, and contact center professionals. Amidst the sea of people, screens, and sponsor exhibits, it is hard to decide where to focus your time…. Luckily, a really interesting session, “Leverage Empathy for Insights,” caught my eye. In the session, Dan Hill, author of Leveraging Emotions for Business Success, talked about something we as contact center and customer service professionals deal with every day—emotions. Customer service interactions, particularly phone calls between agents and customers, are heavily influenced by emotions. 

After people purchase a product, they want to know a company is going to support them and stand behind its product. They also want to be in control of their interactions with the company.  And if their needs aren’t met, Hill says, it only takes two minutes for customers to become frustrated. This results in a horrible experience for the customer as well as the front-line customer service agents talking to them on the phone. These emotional responses also heavily impact a business’s bottom line. According to a recent RightNow Technologies Customer Experience Impact report, “Eighty-nine percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience” and “eighty-six percent will pay more for a better customer experience.”

So how can companies, specifically contact centers, better prepare for this future of “emotionomics”? First, start by assessing your contact center with a focus on the customer service agents taking the call. It is crucial to avoid what Hill calls “emotional leakage.” Emotional leakage is when a customer service agent talking to a frustrated or angry customer on the phone responds negatively. Emotional leakage makes a bad customer experience even worse.

Leaving the session, I thought of a few other things that would help contact centers, agents, and companies in general positively influence how customers interact with them to avoid this phenomenon:

  • Hire the most experienced and skilled customer service agents, no matter where they are located. With the latest cloud contact center technology, highly qualified agents only need a browser and headset to provide exceptional service to customers. Business process outsourcers (BPOs), such as American Support and NexRep have hundreds of topnotch agents across the U.S. who are delivering superior customer experiences.
  • Use technology to support “moments that matter.”  Once you have the best talent in place, use the best call capabilities to ensure valued customers get routed to the most qualified, skilled agent available to address their needs. This helps quell customer frustration and get them the answers they need immediately.
  • Give agents the knowledge they need to succeed. When agents know as much information as possible, for instance, who is calling, why they may be calling, where they are, etc., it helps prevent the customer from being overwhelmed with such negative emotions as anger, fear, or sadness.  When customers feel valued, heard, and supported, agents can respond positively with assistance.
  • Lastly, continually learn from customer interactions. The customer service landscape is always rapidly evolving. Recording and reviewing customer calls with agents on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis helps agents see areas of improvement or where they need more tools to make customer calls even better.