The Service Connection: Four Ways to Inspire Customer Loyalty

by Jeannie Jackson on December 17th, 2013

Jeannie JacksonThe holidays are upon us. It’s time to plan for the festivities, so my best friend and I have been talking about where to shop and what to buy. When we’re in strategic shopping mode, we have two restaurants that serve as our headquarters when laying out our shopping plans, and this year we decided we wanted to add our two favorite wait-staff team members at those restaurants to our gift lists.

We started strategizing on what to buy them, and it got me thinking: Why would I want to buy gifts for two people whose only connection to me is seeing me sit in their section once a week to eat a meal?

The answer: They’ve given me an entire year of exceptional service.

These aren’t contact center agents, but I’m loyal to them in the same way you’d like your customers to be loyal to you. I’m so loyal that I always ask to sit in their section, and I suspect if they changed jobs, I’d go to wherever they started working next. I’ve developed a loyal customer attachment to them. Now that’s something every contact center would love to hear from their customers.

So what do they do that you can do?  I think it comes down to four simple things:

1.       They listen to what I want, and they respond to it.

How well do you know your customer base? How much do you know about communication trends and preferred channels of contact, and how evolved and ready are you for the next generation of omni-channel consumers so that you can listen to what they want, in the way they want, and respond to it?

2.       They are not afraid to give every interaction a personal touch.

I don’t know these two servers in their personal lives. I really hardly know anything about them other than where they work, so how did they manage to deliver that personal touch without being “too personal?” They deliver warm, friendly service always, consistently, with every interaction. I know all of us in the contact center world want to say the same thing about our agents. How do you measure, evaluate, and score that within your agents, but more importantly how do you develop it? How do you encourage that personal touch through your omni-channel communications, including voice, chat, email and SMS?

3.       They have a natural talent for what they do.

Many contact centers approach recruitment of new agents in line with the thinking that a contact center agent is a less-skilled member of the overall corporate workforce. Certainly not in all of them – there are plenty of contact centers that require their agents to have formal education and certificates, such as in the health care industry. But just because they have a certificate, does that make them naturally good contact center agents? Still in other industries, professional credentials are not required so we tend to hire our agents based on other criteria. How do you seek out, recruit, and retain superior customer-interaction advocates, and do you even know what the qualities of the “perfect” agent are so that you can spot that natural talent in your hiring process?

4.       They stand behind the company’s product, and they go above and beyond to ensure that I’m happy with it.

If the food at the restaurants weren’t good, I wouldn’t go back and each server knows that. They want me to enjoy my experience, and they want me to come back – and let’s face it, I’m happy so I’m a good tipper! How many of your agents are putting in their time, plugging away at customer transactions with the goal of getting it done, versus having the goal of really ensuring a remarkable experience? Do your agent incentives inspire your agents to provide good service?

Two nights ago, I was again in one of my favorite restaurants. I watched as the table full of customers beside me thanked my favorite waiter and asked how they could be sure to sit in his section on their next visit. These four basic tenants of his service delivery inspired yet another loyal group of customers.

So what’s on the menu in your contact center, and do your customer interactions inspire loyalty?

2 Responses to “The Service Connection: Four Ways to Inspire Customer Loyalty”

  1. To think that a contact center agent is a “less-skilled member” means that you are approaching your contact center the wrong way. Contact center agents are very important, since they are the ones that interact with your customers directly. A customer experience today can make or break you.

    • avatar Jeanne Jackson says:

      Jason, I couldn’t agree more! I definitely agree that the agent must be ready to represent you, your mission, your core values, and your customer with the highest degree of skill and motivation. That’s not something I often find is paralleled in the recruitment practices I see in some contact centers, but when I do find it, almost invariably that contact center is rewarded with an excellent customer service reputation in the marketplace. Finding, developing, and retaining the talent a contact center needs to truly deliver these four core tenants of good service is definitely worth the time and effort for organizations to invest in. Thanks for the comment!