high service quality

As companies focus more on improving customer satisfaction, customers are benefitting from better service and their expectations for service quality are also increasing. Service quality has now become a differentiating factor between a company’s success and failure. It affects customer retention, loyalty and overall satisfaction with a company and product. Companies must therefore encourage and enhance service quality practices in order to increase customer satisfaction, long term survival and profitability.

When focusing on improving service quality, the behavior of the agent is the most obvious target for change. Agent attitude, behavior and delivery of service all significantly affect a customer’s perception of service quality. Consequently there is both inter- and intra-agent variability in the delivery of service. Some call center managers attempt to reduce this variation by structuring interactions with strict protocols and scripts. However, attempting to control an entire interaction using these measures is both unrealistic and ineffective.

A more effective method to increase service quality is to allow a certain degree of employee autonomy. This is because more autonomous agents are often more capable of effectively addressing customers’ needs by being flexible, responsive and personal [1]. That being said, some agent behaviors are more effective at influencing a customer’s perceived level of service quality.

A recent study of 166 service interactions in a call center found a statistically significant association between the following five customer service behaviors and customer ratings of high service quality [2]:

  1. Offering personalized information
  2. Anticipating customer requests
  3. Offering explanations/justifications
  4. Educating the customer
  5. Providing emotional support

Importantly, offering personalized information was the only behavior that had a significant independent effect on customer evaluations of service quality. Thus, when enhancing customer service quality, focusing on offering personalized information should be made a priority.

Encouraging your agents to offer more personalized information during their customer interactions starts with equipping them with the right tools.

Call center software that provides real-time comprehensive information about the caller such as caller demographics, previous call recordings, voicemails, emails and social media postings allows agents to provide more personalized service. Using this information, agents can better understand their customer and tailor their conversation to their specific needs. They can anticipate a customer’s needs, make personalized recommendations, effectively educate the customer and follow up on previous interactions. Agents who individualize their interactions with customers with relevant information are more effective and these conversations result in greater customer satisfaction.

The key to providing consistently high service quality is equipping your team with more progressive call center software and allowing agents enough autonomy to provide personalized service. Most importantly, encouraging agents to individualize their interactions with customers with relevant information is critical in maintaining a call center workforce that provides excellent service. As customer’s standards for service quality increase, ensure that your team can exceed them with exceptionally personalized service. Your customers will thank you for it.

References:

[1] Oldham, G. R. (1996), “Job Design,” in International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, C. L. Cooper and I. T. Robertson, eds. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 33-60.
[2] Rafaeli, A., Ziklik, L. and Doucet L. (2007), “The Impact of Call Center Employees’ Customer Orientation Behaviors on Service Quality”, Journal of Service Research, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 1-17.