Closing the Service Gap - Developing Great Conversations

Written by Jonathan Paton
27 Sept 2023
Transformation People and Culture Customer Service

Contact centre onboarding and in-role programmes typically provide colleagues with company values, HR essentials, and system level keystrokes. But how often do leaders think about maximising the biggest tool available to frontline agents – their voice?

An effortless experience has never been more desirable for customers. In a world where technology and its accessibility are both rapidly evolving, consumers expect a lot from the services they pay for. When we find ourselves in a customer service situation, these desires become amplified, with expectations that advisers can provide an immediate, effective response to our problems.

Often missing in the learning experience is the art of developing great customer conversations. Getting this element right can lead to a significant improvement in service quality, where the customer sees and feels that they’re speaking to someone who cares.

This is contrary to traditional approaches seen in many contact centres, where downstream metrics like AHT can be over-indexed as a means of focusing on ‘performance improvement’, rather than looking further upstream at wider people transformation. We discussed this concept in a recent blog, with our latest instalment here focussing on a key method to help bring it to life – developing great conversation skills.

“No-one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” - Theodore Roosevelt

Focusing on the art of customer conversations

Many organisations will take their people through onboarding training which focuses heavily on servicing processes and keystroke level steps. After around two to four weeks of packing their brains with “stuff”, the newbies are handed a headset, an awareness of the broad structure of the call, and they are expected to be fantastic, well-structured orators. To take more control, many organisations will also provide agents with scripts to meet compliance requirements, and keep the conversation aligned to a ‘set’ approach.

Granted, some colleagues may have a natural talent for developing conversations, but the reality is that many people struggle - leading to a lack in confidence early into their company tenure. They have good intentions, but don’t understand how to turn this intention into a positive outcome for the customer. This can be a key driver of poor performing service metrics, such as increased call volumes, higher AHT, increased complaints, and low CSAT. However, there is more leaders can do, and with subtle but fundamental additions to the onboarding and in-role learning curriculum, we can help to create an exceptional service experience.

Seeing beyond the keystroke

Picture the scene, you’re in a call listening session with the senior leadership team. An adviser has actively volunteered to have their call played, as an example of what great looks like. After hearing their conversation with a customer, you’re joyfully celebrating the skills that they’ve applied.

The call is fantastic, the agent is signposting a positive outcome for the customer from the get-go. You can audibly hear the customer warming and a connection is created through the use of positive messaging and signposting to a list of solutions available. It’s not just the structure, it’s the authentic positive language the adviser is also using.

It sounds so refined and better still, because of the call control and structure to the conversation, the adviser and customer arrive at a mutually positive outcome in no time at all! In fact, it was 60 seconds quicker than the average call, and with value-add customer options thrown in for good measure!

Can you imagine the employee and customer satisfaction levels if you had a contact centre filled with customer-centric conversation gurus?

How BFY can help

At BFY, we offer best in class solutions to develop the capabilities of your people, delivering better customer outcomes and exceptional business results.

One of those solutions is our agent conversations programme. After tailoring this to your business, we present it to the ICS for accreditation, enabling your advisers to gain a formal ICS accreditation after completion of the programme. The programme develops the capabilities of your team leaders (TLs are vital in coaching and embedding the change), your subject matter experts, and your frontline customer service advisers. We’ve seen not just hugely improved customer service metrics from delivery of the programme, but also reduced attrition and increased ESAT also.

We tailor the design to your requirements and make it available across all your contact channels, including voice, digital, social and traditional email correspondence. Couple this with greater understanding of what’s important for business and customer success, embedded through huddle re-focus and performance tracking, and you’re well on the right path to success.

To find out more about how we can help, contact Jonathan Paton.

Jonathan Paton

Jon specialises in Customer Operations leadership, customer contact, and operational service delivery transformation/improvement.

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