The market as we know it today thrives on businesses gaining the trust of the customers so that they can subsequently gain their business.
To ensure a smooth flow in this process, companies invest heavily in customer service equipment and personnel, customer relationship management tools and similar features to retain their clients.
All of this has brought about significant change in how a company perceives and treats its customers, as well as the pointers that customers look for when they do business with a certain company.
One of the effects of this move towards ensuring good customer service is that call center software has come up to automate as much of the process as possible, and present relevant data that aids in the customer service procedures. However, even in this digital age it is important to provide a human element amidst all the automation.
While technology empowers us to satisfy queries, follow up results, correct errors and maintain performance status much easier and quicker, it is important to ensure that the customer service being provided does not end up becoming impersonal as a result.
Brands are eager to up their game in terms of customer relationship management by keeping the conversation with a client uniquely personal to that particular customer, treating him as an individual rather than a statistic.
Christina Quintanilla of the Activity Booking Software RegionDo says, “As the digital age gears towards automation, activity providers will need to increase their efforts in ensuring their customers receive professional customer service along with the personal and friendly human touch that consumers demand.”
Brands are focused on letting their customer know of the assurance of a human support system to get the best out of them in terms of winning their trust and convincing them to makes the sales.
The way the world has shaped up renders this balance between technological optimization and human influence is the key to sustaining a business in the long term.
Obviously, different companies have different approaches to perform customer service. Keeping industry requirements and general customer demands in mind, here are a few tips to perfectly blend the human touch into digital customer service.
1. The first and most important element in effective communication is comprehensibility. That feeling of establishing a human touch is built up through simple communication.
The presence of more complicated language in promotional material or website explainers or interactions can serve to alienate the customer.
Therefore, adopting a tone which suggests a degree of informality even in a professional sphere can go a long way in establishing an emotional connection with a customer.
2. The next important step is to treat every single customer as a separate individual instead of trying to club them together into groups and then dealing with them as members of those groups.
For example, one of the practices could be to match a customer service agent to a specific customer so that they can keep conversing in follow ups and there is a growing familiarity between them so that the customer feels like he has a personal element invested in the company as well.
Agents could also refer to the customer’s buying history or documented profile to tailor their responses to match his or her personality.
3. Human employees must remain accessible at all times, even if the customer embarks on a do-it-yourself procedure.
Many queries can be solved through chat bots or automated responses, but the customer would still feel more reassured if he had the knowledge that an agent was waiting on call for him should he require any directions beyond what the chatbots can provide him.
Automated procedures, on the other hand, should also have the option of switching to manual conversations if the user prefers that.
4. Customers want to know that their input is valued and taken seriously by the company. This is why it is very important for the customer service system to ask for a feedback from the customer after an interaction.
This works in both ways – first, it makes the customer feel valued and allows him to key in his inputs and second, it allows the company to understand where they are going right or wrong and take measures accordingly to better their performance in future communications.
5. Another way of effectively reinforcing the human touch is basically to offer personalized recommendations to the customer.
These recommendations would have to be taken into account for the customer’s preferences and tastes, buying history and buying patterns etc, to determine what sort of product or service they are likely to be interested in.
Thus it shows a very high level of importance being attached to each specific client. This allows the customers to feel more valued and to establish a stronger relationship of trust between the company and the customer.
It also allows the company to subtly push what they want to sell instead of embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign.
6. Companies should be eager to establish contact with a customer, rather than waiting for the customer to come up with a query from where you can establish a dialogue.
Being proactive in striking up a conversation shows an inclination to establish a one-on-one relationship with the customer. With various platforms like telemarketing and social media available today, companies have far more scope to keep clients connected to them at all the times and encourage their input and feedback.
7. An inevitable aspect of introducing the human touch to digital communication is the effective training of the agents who are assigned these duties in the first place.
Agents may find interaction very easy as long as they are following a script, but personalized communications are a different ball game altogether.
Agents require extensive soft skills training to provide a more humanized interaction experience to customers. Agents must also feel confident in their roles and only then will that confidence permeate to their interactions.
8. Just like every customer is unique, every agent comes with a slightly different set of skills. This makes it vital to assign the matching departments and roles according to the skill sets and personalities of the agents working for the call center.
Roles that fit their natural talents would allow them to provide the best humanized experience while interacting with the customers. Managers need to schedule their staff roles and shifts based on these indicators so as to draw the best out of every employee.
9. One of the most effective and most common ways of establishing trust right off the bat is the inclusion of testimonials, either by current or previous customers.
Testimonials highlighting the positives that other previous customers have gained from doing business with your company establish credibility and serve to reassure the new customer that their business is in the safe hands.
This eventually leads to your reputation in the market, which is something that directly affects the sales you drive.
10. Identify agents and customers on a first name basis. Although this seems like a relatively simple procedure, it can have far-reaching effects because of how a customer perceives the interaction with a real person with a name, compared to an interaction with a representative of a Company who does not bring in any personal element to the conversation.
The Case Study
The tips provided here will help your company finely tune their customer relationship management procedures to add a human touch and better their performance.
To emphasize the point of how important this human element is, let us take a look at a real scenario and analyze the situation. For the sake of maintaining anonymity, we will name the call center concerned as DOOXLITE.
For the scope of this case study, DOOXLITE is a telemarketing agency providing call center solutions for a large organization.
In this case study, we will go through the scenario that DOOXLITE found itself in, with a special reference to the challenges it faced in terms of interacting with its customers.
We will further move on to the solutions that they implemented so as to match up to these challenges, and whether the implementation of those changes brought about a positive effect or not.
The Problem Scenario
DOOXLITE deals with a huge number of customer calls on a daily basis. Its agents are trained to effectively answer all frequently asked questions.
They have also adapted call center software solutions which automate a huge chunk of the process of customer service. However, despite introducing all of this technology, they noticed that a lot of leads were not maturing properly and a lot of customers were hesitant in rebuilding their business.
The challenges that the company faced with respect to effective communication with clients are listed below.
1. They found that most of their conversation was not personalized to suit a particular customer. As a result, customers were losing interest because they thought that their specific needs were not being given enough importance by the company.
2. Customers were unable to get hold of an actual employee to clear their doubts in case the automated answers did not explain something clearly enough. This meant that clarifications were not being provided satisfactorily, to many clients and this created a very negative impact.
3. Feedback from the customers was not being taken and incorporated into the system. This made some customers feel like their opinion was not being given much value. They found the company lacking in willingness to change their tactics to suit the customer’s needs. This led to a direct loss of business for the company.
4. Call center employees who were assigned on-phone duties were found to be untrained when they had to pursue business conversations without a script. This meant that conversations were not tailor-made for the particular customer who was on the phone at that point of time. As a result, a lot of the customers had to explain things that they had already explained in prior calls, which negatively affected their experience.
The managers of the company recognized the need to address these problems immediately. They sat down and compiled a list of solutions that were to be implemented to counter the problems that they faced.
1. They would invest in the best call center software which would enable them to gather all of the information about a customer before or during the call so that it could provide an indication of what sort of approach would be the best one to take to create an impression with that particular client.
2. They would train their clients in soft skills to help them provide a more humanized interaction in off-script calls with the customers. This would also help the client to personalize the communication for every customer individually, since they would be taking decisions based on the dialogue instead of a predetermined response.
3. They would set up a mechanism for feedback from the customers and the suggestions coming in as feedback would be implemented to better serve the clients in the future. This would ensure that their model remains dynamic and that they continue to better their performance shaped by the customer requirements.
4. An employee was always kept on standby for every automated inquiry, just in case the customer wanted to interact with a real person to clear their doubts, or if the answers given by a chatbots were not satisfactory enough.
The marked improvement in customer services was almost immediate. Initial feedback pointed out the flaws in the existing system, which was subsequently corrected.
Within the first quarter of implementation, their client retention rate was pushing 100% and customers were generally giving satisfactory comments.
Business saw a growth of 12% within a year of the implementation of a human element along with the technology, up from the 7.5% they had the previous year.
Employees were also assigned duties which matched their skills, so they were able to put in more efficient performances as well.
We see that adding a human element to digital communication is important to secure the trust of the customer and keep their business.
The sales cycle depends on the effective implementation of this blend of traditional and modern feel to the process of customer service through communications.