So, the other day, I was watching TV haphazardly, and I saw a rather amusing episode of a cartoon, in which a customer service agent deliberately gave a random customer a bad day every Monday. It resulted in an unhappy customer and slapstick revenge, and it was funny. But it got me thinking about something. I write a lot of customer care tips for blogs and news sites, but I’ve never looked at a potential human issue when it comes to customer service, relations and care as well.
So, as I mulled this over, I thought of six points based on this, that I feel I ought to share. I don’t know if anyone else out there has explored this, beyond the clever writers of the cartoon that inspired me to write about this, so I may as well do it now.
I’m going to look at this as partly some risks that can be caused by vindictive human attributes expressing themselves in a customer/company interaction. So here are six customer care tips to address this issue.
#1 – Using Customer Incentives to Discourage Vindictive Agency
It’s only human when people working a repetitive, often stressful job begin to gather some ire in their workplace. It’s an age old problem we all face, after enough exposure has pressured us into being unpleasant and projecting our ennui as aggression to others.
Several of these tips revolve around this, including the first. Incentivizing customers can also be double-employed as a deterrent for maligned customer agents as well.
This incentivizing is accomplished by encouraging customers to rate the company, among other things, in customer care. This allows for metrics in business to improve customer experience, but it also encourages customer care professionals to reflect positively in these reviews. This keeps people mindful to contain their less sociable impulses.
#2 – Reducing the Call Center Workload
This will have a profound psychological effect on your customer care agents, especially in the call center itself. If you can offload some of this to other mediums like new online solutions, really anything else, then these agents will be bothered less with routine questions they grow tired of answering.
This doesn’t resolve aggression from routine with the agents in these new channels though, does it?
#3 – Gamifying Customer Care
Well, let’s do something about that. You’re probably familiar with the concept of gamification by now, but probably only as applied to marketing or training environments. However, it transcends such pigeonholing and can be used just about anywhere with the right application.
Gamifying online customer care and any online interaction with your company, on both sides of the fence, is a good way to make these routine things less likely to drive malign from the agents or the customers.
#4 – Incentivizing Good Customer Conduct
You want customers that aren’t difficult, but the customer is allegedly always right. This is a pickle, because customers who are too hostile or uncooperative hurt themselves as much as you, through failure to resolve an issue or failure to conduct a task.
Well, we can’t outright get in their faces about it, but we can offer incentives for being a good customer to deal with, such as a karma point system where customers rated as friendly by agents receive a positive rating. Benefits like discounts may be obtained perhaps.
At the same time, karma points rated by the customer can have similar governance in the agent’s benefit as well.
#5 – Purpose
Customer care is a multifaceted science and industry, and one that is known for putting everyone in defined niches. This isn’t necessarily always the best way to go, however.
Customer care agents may have great skills with other parts of their industry, so pooling the call center or support or CRM teams for other tasks when not occupied with primary duties keeps them happy and productive, resulting in a machine that’s not so tangled up. This reduces hostility from them as well.
#6 – Ensuring Decorum through Less Red Tape
A lot of social hostility on both sides comes from red tape by way of hold times and phone trees, or lengthy web forms and procedures for the customers, and lengthy procedures through outdated CRM software for agents in any customer care niche. This can be remedied by restructuring the interface for customers, maybe with some onboard software to encourage internet CRM and customer support over phone based systems.
On the other side, go SaaS with your CRM software so that all departments can actively exchange and access data for less pigeonholing in contact branches.
So, I just thought I’d share these customer care tips with you, because this looks at a way to address a psychological problem in customer care fields I fear may not be addressed enough at the moment. Maybe this will provoke others to think about this and contribute to finding and resolving more, related problems.