"The name of the game is when the customer thinks you care," said Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting LLC , a New Jersey-based firm specializing in call centers and real-time analytics.
But how can a company ensure that its contact-center agents and sales representatives have what it takes to make customers feel appreciated? After all, as Fluss noted, "Service and sales are some of the most important contact points within an enterprise because these are the people who interact with your customers more than anybody else, in most organizations."
For starters, it takes more than a dog-eared resume to identify a contact-center agent with an "innate capability" for empathy, Fluss said. "An in-person interview is an essential part of hiring a call-center agent."
One way to help employees tap into customer emotions is to teach empathy in communications training courses through extensive role-playing. Fluss suggested that companies use their most empathetic contact-center agents to assist with the role-play exercises. And once agents complete the training, companies need to measure, evaluate and reward them for demonstrating empathy in customer service.
Another way to ensure customers are being properly cared for is by using emotion-detection software, an offshoot of CRM technology . In fact, Forrester estimates that sales of emotion-detection technology come to about $400 million per year. Autonomy Corp. , a U.K. software company specializing in meaning-based computing, recently released its Intelligent Contact Center , which uses speech analytics to search recorded conversations and provide insight into customer interactions.
Most emotion-detection software solutions track volume and pitch, record conversations and categorize them by words and phrases. Verint Systems Inc.'s ULTRA solution suite categorizes and analyzes call content to reveal the root causes of performance outcomes, as well as identify trends that might not be detected without listening to thousands of calls.
While these types of solutions haven't exactly gained mainstream traction, they're definitely a step up from more traditional metrics such as first-call resolution or average handle time. "Average handle time is nothing more than a productivity measure," said Fluss. "A call-center agent could have a high average handle time and still not be very warm and fuzzy."
In the end though, the ability to satisfy even the most difficult customer may not be found in training courses, CRM solutions and assessment tools. Sometimes an apology is all that's needed. "What's wrong with just saying 'I'm sorry'?" Fluss said. "What's wrong with feeling people's pain and having somebody to talk to who understands?"
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when it comes to their CRM software is the features they don’t use. This happens because they invest in CRM with a handful of problems in mind, so they’re content as long as it solves them. But if you want to maximize your ROI, you should be utilizing every feature available to you. more
Would you believe that 89% of businesses expect to compete primarily on customer service in the upcoming years? With that in mind, it’s no surprise that CRM software is becoming such an integral part of business operations. But not all solutions are created equally, especially when it comes to the value they deliver to your business. more
There’s some big things happening with CRM software that you should to be aware of. Technological advancements and changes to business processes have led to developments and new features that are making CRM more valuable than ever. Things like mobile capabilities and greater integration with other software are at the front of this progress. more
A good SMB CRM system can be an incredibly valuable asset for your business. As more businesses recognize this value, the amount of SMB CRM vendors is expanding quickly. Navigating the pricing plans, features, and service terms of all these can be a decision-making nightmare. more