Monday, December 11, 2017

Rising to the Challenge of Exceptional Customer Service

By Melodee Norris

How easy is it to deliver exceptional customer service consistently to every customer, every time?  Super simple when the customer is polite and nice, right?  It is natural to mirror
how we are being treated so when a customer is courteous and kind, good customer service is delivered.  Once a customer becomes challenging, confrontational or rude, it can be very difficult to resist what comes natural, resulting quite often, in a poor customer experience.

In the call center environment, the challenge then becomes inspiring our associates to not mirror poor behavior, but instead rise above, to the higher road, where an exceptional customer experience can transpire!

First, we must teach associates to lower their defenses and allow unpleasant behaviors to roll off their shoulders.  In building trust with our associates, we open the door to show them how to lower their defenses. This can be accomplished by really getting to know each associate as an individual, understanding who they are, and what is important to them personally.   It is important for the associate to feel valued and appreciated, so that in those encounters with a difficult customer the associate can more easily listen to the customer to understand…. verses getting defensive.  When the management team has modeled to the associate trust, and listening (to understand), it inspires the associate to do the same for the customer.

Second, we must teach associates to show compassion.  In today’s world, it seems more often we don’t want to give anything without first receiving something.  It is important to demonstrate compassion to our associates when possible.  In many instances, management will be limited in being able to do so, as it is equally as important to maintain consistent with company policies and procedures.  That said, if you look closely for the opportunities, you will find them. When you respond in those opportunities with favor and respect towards your staff, you will have successfully demonstrated compassion.  The more these experiences take place, it will become more natural for your associates to demonstrate the same to the customer.

Finally, we must teach associates to feel empathetic towards the customer, and the situation.  This can be very challenging as we live in a society where true genuine human interaction is nearly nonexistent.  Many argue that empathy can’t be taught, as it is a personality trait. Some say it is a cognitive attribute and can be taught.  I personally believe it can be taught, through consistent example. As with compassion, management must consistently demonstrate empathy.  We must clearly define empathy to our associates, as it is often confused with sympathy.  Empathy is the ability to “step into the shoes of another person”, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.  We don't deliver good customer experience by simply saying “I’m sorry”. We do so by actually showing empathy, that brings the experience to the level of exceptional.

Ultimately, it is a huge challenge to deliver exceptional customer service consistently to every customer, every time.  However, as leaders, when we model trust, compassion and empathy, we create an environment where exceptional customer service most certainly can take place.  It can be done! 

Melodee has over 10 years of effectively leading BPO Programs and Initiatives to excellence. She's experienced in developing and implementing processes, which have yielded optimal results. Additionally, she is proficient in highly detail-oriented delivery of quality work across multiple projects and priorities. Melodee motivates others through inspirational, innovative and positive feedback to spark the highest level of performance in each individual and team.

Connect with Melodee on LinkedIn 

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