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As humans we have an innate ability to de-humanise others as soon as they are not in front of us.

Consider how we might generalise the people we see on television or how we might make assumptions about the people working for a competitor.

Over time in your contact centre the same de-humanising of your beloved customers caninadvertentlytake place – despite your advisors and team leader’s best efforts – simply because your customers are on the other end of the phone.

Dealing with hundreds of calls a day the individuality of a customer and their situation can fade, to be replaced with phrases like “they” and “them” to refer to “all customers”.

Invite your customers to meet your advisors

You might think about selecting a handful of friendly customers and inviting them in to your contact centre to meet your advisors. Depending on the size of your team you could run a couple of sessions with different customers to ensure appropriate cover on the telephones.

You could call some customers local to your contact centre, “Hi, I am the Contact Centre Manager at XYZ Ltd and I see you have been speaking with us a couple of times over the past few weeks. I am really keen for our advisors to understand the importance of what they say and how they say it and for them to hear real feedback from real customers.”

“I would love to invite you in to meet one of our teams and provide them with your experiences of dealing with our contact centre. In return it would be fantastic to take you out for lunch afterwards to say thank-you.”

Customer Service Think Tank hosted by Dell

Make your customers 'real' (Photo credit: Dell's Official Flickr Page)

Prepare your customer with some questions to kick off the conversation:

  • What makes a great experience for you?
  • What makes a bad experience for you?
  • How do you like to be addressed?
  • What could we do better next time you call in?

As the conversation progresses encourage your advisors to start asking their own questions and your friendly customer to ask questions back to your advisors.

Over the course of the interaction you will re-humanise the relationship between your advisors and their customer. Your team will remember that customers are people too!

Think about making stickers, or even life-size prints of the customers that have attended and place them around your teams. Help them to remember that there is no “them” or “they” – it is Sarah, she is 38, and she has a question that she would like an answer to.

Make it a regularoccurrence

Don’t stop once you have had customers in the first time! Run a session once a quarter to refocus your team on the human side of your work.

Your customers will appreciate the fact that you and your advisors value their opinion and you may be able to leverage this goodwill for further product feedback or customer references.

Have you ever brought your customers in to meet your advisors? Do you agree that the phone and online communications can de-humanise the relationship with your customers? We’d love to hear your thoughts here on the blog.

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About Charlie Cowan

Charlie is passionate about cloud computing and how it can help real businesses to run more profitably.

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