What exactly is customer centricity? It’s certainly one of the contact center “buzz words” in recent years and as a veteran call center chick, I constantly ask, “how do I transform the words “customer centricity” into actionable call center performance standards to drive outcomes using the traditional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in my call center”? I’m guessing that many of you reading this article have struggled with the same transformational challenge in recent years, especially if you have historically worked with finance teams or workforce management groups that are only concerned with average handle time and the budget.
Although there are many definitions out there for customer centricity, we’ve found that it is very important to define customer centricity in the simplest form possible. In its simplest form, customer centricity means that everything that we do in our contact center is developed around the customer experience and their emotional needs at the time they call us. By focusing on the customer’s question, identifying their emotional needs, and providing solutions, we have developed an actionable model that directly drives results in all of our centers. Yes, I know in theory this sounds hard, but the good news is that we have developed a very basic concept and formulated a very simple approach based upon the fact that every human being has needs, wants, and emotions. That is the simplicity of the common bond between your customers and your front line agents.
This means that today’s answering agent in an inbound call center has at least three process steps to go through every time they answer the phone and greet the customer, it’s about listening to determine does the customer have a problem that they are trying to solve and offering action. The third step, after the customer’s basic questions has been acknowledged, takes us into the deeper emotional level of the process journey directly linked to the moments that matter. The agent has to transition from transactional processing questions and answers and start to focus on the “life experience” that the customer is going through at that very moment because it really does matter if you are trying to deliver on a customer centric initiative. Read on, to find out more.
I want to share an example to demonstrate this three pronged approach. We were working with a wireless telecom provider on a routine call about their bill on their cell phone family plan due to text overages. The associate quickly resolved the issue by increasing their plan size but in the second phase, the associate picked up valuable insightful detail during the conversation, the customer shared that their oldest child just got their first cell phone and expressed some fear about their son beginning to drive. All this emotional detail came to light as they made small talk while the plan and rates were being updated. In years past, this one be a quick call, transactional based, opened/closed – very black and white and easily documented in a Knowledge Management system as a “how to” update a plan. In today’s competitive marketplace, front line agent need to be taught specific skills that develop that agility to drive to the next level and use the consumer intelligence available at their fingertips to process the new information about what’s happening in their customer’s life as this creates meaningful customer value, loyalty, and increased sales. In this scenario, it’s logical for the agent to review the account and use suggestive phrases supporting the emotional real life moments that matter that had been identified during the call. Customer centricity became actionable when the agent acknowledged the customers emotional need and vulnerability. The associate phrased his next statement something like this – “wow, I just noticed that your teenagers new cell phone doesn’t have insurance, would you like for me to go ahead and add that to your plan so that you will have peace of mind when they are on the road driving that they will always be able to reach you if there is an emergency?” Identifying customer emotional needs and moments that matter translates into revenue generation opportunities for those companies that are able to take action on customer centricity initiatives.
At another client, one of our insurance companies, the inbound customer call opened with a simple transactional question, “does my plan provide coverage for hospital & delivery of my upcoming newborn”? The agent offered action and interacted with the customer as the group policy benefits loaded on their screen, as she was pulling up the benefit plans she congratulated the young father on upcoming birth of his new baby and they talked about the due date, he shared with her that this would be his first child, he was almost giddy with delight and also shared a sense of nervousness because he really didn’t know everything that he needed to do. She quickly and efficiently reassured him and thoroughly reviewed his coverage and then quite naturally transitioned into action on the moments that matter that she had picked up on the call. As we transform our agents to identify moments that matter, they begin to think ahead for the customer, she instinctively knew that if he was expecting his first newborn, he should be considering additional life insurance, thinking about college funds, etc. Translating customer emotional needs during moments that matter revolutionizes the experience and brings a “warm & fuzzy” feeling to anticipating the needs of the customer. This strategy not only increases loyalty but, increases the bottom line of the business through increased sales while meeting the emotional needs of the customer during those moments that matter. When this customer hung up from the call, he felt great because he knew that he had taken actionable steps to create a great start for his new child! He was less stressed and could focus solely on the birth of his new arrival!