Customer Experience News & Trends

What’s more important — your work or your charm?

Is creating a great customer experience more about how you make them feel than what you actually do?

Answer: Customers rate their experiences mostly on how employees make them feel.

What customers actually need to do — and whether it was accomplished — has less of an influence on how they believe the experience went, according to recent research by technology provider CEB.

Who makes the biggest impact

“The greatest influence on customer effort — and overall customer service experience — is in the hands of the service rep,” says Matthew Dixon, CEB Group Leader and author of The Effortless Experience.

Customers want to walk away, hang up or end messaging with that warm, fuzzy feeling. Sure, they want their questions answered or issues resolved efficiently. But it’s how you make them feel, not what you do, that they’ll remember.

Here are three ways front-line employees who deal with customers day-in, day-out can make experiences better:

1. Tailor the experience

Almost one-quarter of repeat calls to customer service are prompted by a disconnect between the customer and the first person he or she talked to, CEB researchers found. So front-line employees want to make efforts to connect with customers on a personal level while resolving their issues.

Try these tactics:

  • Match their style. First, try to match their pace of speech. Use some of their exact words to clarify. React to their unspoken needs, too. If they seem to be in a hurry, ask if they’d like the quickest resolution possible. If they ask a lot of questions, ask if they have time for, or are interested in, in-depth explanations.
  • Flex your style. Follow guidelines, but let customers know if you’re doing something special for them. Say, “Normally, I’d do … But for you, let’s try something different.”

2. Listen closer for clues

Customers often don’t know exactly what they want/need. They just know what they have — information, products, components, details, etc. — aren’t what they expected. So their real issue might not be on the surface.

Front-line employees can identify all their needs and leverage that information with strategic questions. Try these:

  • What do you need to change?
  • What is the end result you want?
  • What does the solution look like to you?
  • Can you give me an example of that?

3. Keep it positive

Front-line employees can make customers feel happy and satisfied with their experiences by using more positive language, Dixon says. CEB’s research showed that using positive language and focusing on what you can do to help significantly improved how easy customers felt it was take care of their business.

A proven tactic: Customer service reps at one company identified the 10 most frequent questions and issues they had to respond to with a “no.” Then they came up with a bunch of more positive terms and language they could use instead.

Here are some spins on “no” responses you can try:

  • “Here’s what I can do …”
  • “I have a suggestion on another approach.”
  • “What we can try is …”
  • “Let’s put our minds together on this.”

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