How to Balance Empathy Vs. Improving Call Center Productivity

How to balance call center agent productivity with empathy

The constant pressure to improve call center productivity  creates an ongoing struggle between maintaining empathy for your customers and running an efficient, productive, and  profitable business.

After all, there are budgets to keep to, a limited technical support staff, and a lot of customers that need helping. Unlimited time and energy can’t be given to each customer, and sometimes canned answers are needed to resolve support requests.

At the same time, forming and maintaining strong customer relationships is critical for any business to thrive. Strong customer relationships leads to repeat business, referrals, good reviews and most importantly, increased profit.

Improve Call Center Productivity – The Balance Question

The problem is that fermenting strong customer relationships takes time. Time spent decreases a company’s productivity. An inefficient business will then lose money. At the same time, curt or abrupt communication with customers while trying to save time carries its own risk of lost referrals and repeat business. How can a company balance it keeping both the business and customers happy?

Call Center Productivity Improvement: Balancing on the Tightrope

Too much emphasis on personal relationships in customer service will kill your productivity and profit margins. On the opposite end – too much emphasis on productivity will kill your brand and reputation.

This is an area where the market is rapidly changing. Customers are demanding more personal care than ever. In their “Future of CX” report, PwC surveyed 15,000 consumers and found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% will completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.

That’s why customer service and contact center communication needs to be both empathetic, and on point!

A case in point is the Buzzfeed article where a customer support agent named Tonya learned that a female customer she was speaking to had just gone through a rough breakup. The support agent ended up cheering the customer up and sending her flowers. She even gave her airmiles.

This display of human spontaneity and empathy helped put their business into a good public light, and frankly, was good for humanity to hear about. However, what if Tonya (and her colleagues at the call center) got into a deep, emotionally filled conversation with every single call? Chances are, Capital One (the company she works for) would go out of business quickly.

Solution for How to Improve Call Center Productivity

There are two parts to the solution, and through incorporating both, a call center can improve its call center productivity.

Solution One – Personnel

The first key is your personnel. In an age where customer service is moving to center stage, agent quality cannot be compromised on. Agents need to be highly qualified to take care of all the technical and practical issues customers are confronted with. More importantly they have to be emotionally intelligent and capable of reading the situation properly, diffusing resistance, and providing the customer with care he needs. The agent is crossing the tightrope, so make sure to pick the ones with good balance.

Solution Two – Innovative Call Center Technology

The second key, and the one we will elaborate on further in this article, is innovative call center technology, more specifically big data analytics. These new tools enable you to measure the impact of every nuance in your business on your bottom line. You can then track your support team and learn how service is affecting customer churn, brand reputation and future sales. It will also show how playing around with your different KPI and service strategies moves the needle for your business.

Analytic Tools that help Boost Agent Productivity

We know that customer support agents and tech support agents need to be highly functioning and motivated, as well as have a good agent utilization rate. We also know that the right mix of empathy and productivity is needed in order to best reach business goals.

Now the question becomes – how can we quantify and test that we are operating correctly?

How do we actually know that the higher end support is indeed giving our business better results, and isn’t just a waste of time?

The answer comes down to analytics. A/B testing is used in the marketing world to pinpoint which landing page or advertisement best converts visitors. So too in the world of tech support and call centers, testing and analytic tools are used to ensure that customers are being treated and balanced in a way that is best promoting business growth.

Customer Support Analytics Tools for Gauging Empathy and Productivity

Contact center analytics is a fast growing new field. Below are two examples of companies that provide relevant data and valuable insight on the impact of customer service on the business. Make sure to find the best analytics partner for your line of business and your individual structure of customer service.

  1. Foresee: is an analytics company that focuses exclusively on the customer’s experience with your brand. They track customer interaction, social media, surveys, etc. to get an idea of overall customer satisfaction. This data can be used and compared with churn and sales data to see how your customer service and contact center’s productivity is affecting the bottom line.
  1. ClaraBridge: focuses on predictive analytics. Data is mined and analyzed throughout a customer’s journey, from marketing and purchase through support and advocacy. With that information insights can be gained into the lifetime value of a customer, or the likelihood of a first time customer turning loyal. Using that data, insights are provided on how those outcomes are influenced by your brand’s service and your support policies.

Analyze All Channels for a Clear Picture of the Productivity Balance

It’s important to note that even with good analytics, you can only succeed if the data you provide is good. That’s why it’s crucial to mine data from all channels and throughout the customer’s journey.

Analytics will help to spotlight where your engagements are helping your company and adding more overall value to your business.

Armed with extensive data and the right analytics tools, the big questions of customer support can be tackled. What are the important KPIs to drive support most effectively? Where to set those KPIs at, and how to reward agents to keep service operations running smoothly and efficiently, delivering the best value to your brand?

Answering the above questions will help to inform, guide and help call center agents to walk the fine line of Empathy Vs. Productivity in making sure to improve call center productivity, and to ensure continued customer loyalty and advocacy while still keeping an eye on the bottom line.

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