Contact Center Trends

What Psychology Can Teach Us About Customer Service

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

Negative events are more memorable than positive ones. Establish a consistent customer service experience to avoid harming your company’s reputation.

I spent over an hour on the phone last month with my home internet service provider (ISP). My router wasn’t working so I dialed in to their call center. I sat through numerous interactive voice response (IVR) menus, all with multiple confusing choices.

After I’d been queuing for 20 minutes, a representative picked up the phone. She asked for my full name (12 letters), account number (9 numbers) and phone number (10 numbers). Each time, she had to input the information and wait for it to come up in her system.

Once she’d pulled everything up, I explained that my router wasn’t working. She said she would send a repairman to my apartment. His repair worked for an hour and then I was back at square one.

I redialed the call center number, went through the many IVRs, sat through the extended hold period, provided the new representative with my 31 characters of account information and re-explained my issue, mentioning that I had called in the day before.

My problem was eventually resolved, but the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. A month later, I still remember the frustration. I have since looked into options for switching ISPs and have talked a serious amount of trash about my current provider.

In fairness, I have dealt with this particular call center before. Every other time, I haven’t been quite so upset. But this time, well, this time I remember. Vividly.

What is Negativity Dominance?

Negativity dominance is the theory that negative events have a greater effect on your psychological state than positive or neutral events. In other words, a lovely meal at a restaurant is more easily forgotten than a meal at a restaurant that results in food poisoning. The nature of the human experience, according to psychologists, is that we just have a better memory for the bad than the good.

How Can Negativity Dominance Impact Companies?

Negativity dominance, in business, means that the stakes are high. Just one bad experience with your company can lead to the loss of a customer. No matter how many positive experiences a customer has, a negative one can destroy his entire view of your company. It can also prompt him to speak disparagingly of your services to his social circle, costing you prospective customers.

How Can You Avoid Making A Negative Impression?

Knowing that the human brain is wired to put more stock in the negative, here are a list of suggestions to avoid alienating your customers with bad service experiences:

1. Make a conscious effort to focus on customer success

Companies must prioritize customer success. Doing this isn’t just a matter of saying it out loud and hoping it will happen. It is essential that you lay out a plan for meeting the needs of your customers.

2. Provide a consistent experience

When customers interact with you, they should know what to expect. The same level of excellent customer service must be provided each time. Establishing a record of reliability will create a strong foundation for your company.

3. Focus on customer effort, not delight

When designing a customer service experience, you must ask yourself: “How much effort does it take to be my customer?” The ideal answer is: “Very little.”

It is an understandable misconception that, instead of mitigating customer distress, companies should focus on customer delight. That is, customers should get little happy surprises from your service.

In light of the theory of negativity dominance, delight is secondary. A happy surprise will not counterbalance a customer’s frustration at having to exert too much effort.

4. Use the right interface

Even if you realize that customer support is important and you’ve decided you want to make it a priority, you may not have the time to oversee the implementation of a complicated strategy. What you need is a quick, simple and reliable fix.

Talkdesk’s cloud-based call center software is designed to facilitate effortless interaction between you and your customers. On your end, it’s easy to set up, intuitive and integrates seamlessly with Salesforce, Zendesk, and many other CRMs. Additionally, there are no phones, hardware, downloads or coding required.

Talkdesk establishes the consistent customer service your company needs to thrive. From call disposition notes to personalized greetings to skills-based routing, your customers will receive excellent service and walk away without a negative thought burned into their mind.

My experience last month with my ISP could easily have been improved by Talkdesk.

Problem 1: A labyrinth of IVR menus

Solution: Talkdesk offers the use of IVRs. My internet service provider’s mistake was not in having the system, but in using a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach. Talkdesk provides customer support as well as relevant blog posts to walk you through setting up your IVR.

Problem 2: Having to recite 31 characters of account information, twice

Solution: Talkdesk’s interface displays customer information from the moment the phone starts ringing. Agents, therefore, do not have to go into calls “blind.”

Problem 3: Lag times while agent looked up my information

Solution: Talkdesk has one-click integrations with a variety of business tools. Your customer service agents will have no need to waste time searching for information.

Problem 4: Long queuing time

Solution: Talkdesk provides agents with information on how long customers have been queuing so that they can react appropriately when they pick up the phone. Also, voicemail can be enabled so that customers can leave a message instead of sitting on hold.

Problem 5: Re-explaining my problem the next day

Solution: Talkdesk allows your agents to keep accounts of calls, including disposition codes and notes. Any time a customer calls in, the agent has a record of all past calls.

The human brain is biased towards remembering negative experiences. This means that mediocre customer service can lead customers to develop an overarching negative view of your company. Avoid this outcome by enacting a customer success strategy with Talkdesk cloud-based call center software at its core.

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Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.