A special guest blog posting from Donna Earl – A.K.A. “The Help Desk Coach”
A recent client presented a not uncommon scenario. Agent stats were acceptable for objective measures and SLA’s. However, the service desk had a reputation for being customer “unfriendly”. The manager assured me that agents informed customers (presumably in no uncertain terms) that their call was to contact them within the promised time frame, their issues were usually addressed on first contact, and they were always asked if the customer agreed they received excellent service.
In follow up, electronic survey users rated the agents/contacts much lower than excellent. My mind jumped to many calls I’ve heard where the agent was anywhere from profusely patronizing to condescendingly clinical, and how insulting that is to the caller/user and irritating to monitor.
The manner in which the agent handles contacts and talks to customers leaves a more potent impression in the mind of the user (and survey taker) than most hard metrics. Satisfaction is in the mind of the customer and subjective.
In assessing the call experience, users are more impressed with the courtesy, empathy and appropriateness of agent communication rather than hard metrics. The manager must coach and provide feedback on the manner agents handle calls, not just metrics.
When listening to agent calls, pay attention to vocal tone, listen to the agent’s ability to empathize with the user, and communicate in a manner that makes sense to the user. Courtesy and high customer service ratings go hand in hand. Soft skills result in tangible improvements to customer service ratings. Coaching for service success must include coaching soft skills in contact handling.
© Donna Earl 2015.