I recently had the opportunity to attend a private meeting with the heads of call centers from several Fortune 500 companies. Whether these organizations were in technology or health care, there was a common theme: Customer expectations are on the rise, and your frontline command center is often your call center.
Companies invest heavily in knowledge to try to resolve customer complaints quickly and efficiently, as that’s crucial to both the customer experience and preserving the bottom line. However, the executives said it may actually be other factors that help ensure your customers have a winning experience—and these best practices can all be encapsulated by thinking about how dogs interact with people. Here’s a closer look at three lessons you can learn from this surprising source of customer service inspiration.
Attitude Matters: Always Be Excited to See Them
Ask any dog owner and they’ll tell you that the excitement they’re greeted with when they come home after a long day is often the highlight of their day. How often can a customer say that interacting with your staff is the highlight of theirs? Focus on the energy and demeanor your call center team uses to interact with customers. Are they happy and enthusiastic when they greet people? Do they listen attentively throughout the conversation and keep a positive attitude no matter what? Effective customer service attitudes are often a combination of hiring the right people, training them appropriately, and aligning incentives so “attitude” is one of the company’s core values.
See the Best in Them—Even When They’re Mad
Another benefit of having a dog in your life is unconditional love. Dogs love you whether you’ve had a terrible day, you have the flu, or your worst and most embarrassing secrets have been revealed to the world. The same should be true about the way your company and your customer service agents interact with customers. Often, customers are already frustrated by the time they reach your customer service team. Yet it’s critical that you don’t let this frustration negatively impact the conversations. Whether a customer is simply annoyed or downright furious, the best customer service teams stay professional, calm, and positive while defusing the situation.
Sense When They Need You to Go Beyond Everyday Responses
If you’re feeling down or depressed, a dog is a great companion. They can often sense your mood and adjust accordingly. For marketers and their frontline customer service staff, it’s critical to recognize when a relationship is on the line or there are extenuating circumstances. Recently, I paid for a hotel for a conference but was unable to attend due to a death in my family. The week before the event, I paid the full prepaid rate to save $20, imagining that nothing could change my plans. The hotel shared their condolences but declined to make a policy exception. Ultimately, a single night’s stay isn’t a big hit to most consumers’ bottom line, but it can cost a brand a lifetime of future business. It’s important that your customer service staff be attuned to when policy exceptions should be made or know when to escalate a call.
Call center staff have a difficult job—but they’re one of your most important avenues to ensuring customer satisfaction. Focus on hiring and training teams for empathy, positive attitudes, and the real desire to deliver a great customer experience. Your customers will notice the difference, and they’ll look forward to engaging with your team on a regular basis.