The widespread adage that “Customer Experience is not a department, it is an attitude” only works when agents are properly set up to deliver the experience you want.
Soft skills are critical to this success, but they are notoriously difficult to teach. Empathy, language, creative and critical thinking, extensive experiences, and talents not directly taught in school are all examples of CX skills.
In most circumstances, learning these skills does not take place in a classroom setting. It’s important to put them through their paces by practising them, simulating customer encounters, and sharing real-world instances.
It is the leadership’s responsibility to provide the agents with the tools, direction, and boundaries they need, and it is the agents’ responsibility to use that information to consistently achieve or exceed expectations. So, whether you’re just getting started with customer experience or want to improve your team’s capabilities,Here are five customer experience concepts that your agents should be familiar with, as well as some suggestions for how to train them.
Every day, we make assumptions. We presume that everyone knows what an abbreviation means, that everyone knows which department owns a process, and that everyone has the same information we have. However, depending on the nature of your service, assumptions can quickly erode consumer trust and cause irritation. Customers are likely to have differing levels of technical knowledge, be in a different time zone, have distinct use cases, and be unfamiliar with your products or business. Assumptions can cause problems in all of these areas.
For example, presuming they know how to clear browser cache, or even what that means, and then telling them to do so without providing any clarification or specifics may result in them making an error or requiring additional assistance. More effort, time, and irritation are required as a result of this encounter. A good strategy to tackle this issue is to teach your agents how to recognise their assumptions and provide some easy recommendations on how to prevent them. The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich experiment is a great approach to demonstrate assumptions and their impact. In this practise, the leader will repeat the trainees’ instructions exactly as they say them.If people assume the jelly jar is stored lid side up when it isn’t, the effects of the directive “open the jelly jar” could be a shambles, just as assumptions can be a shambles when dealing with consumers. It’s an overdone situation that gets a lot of chuckles and serves as a clear analogy for how simple it is to make assumptions.
Keep in mind that even this activity is predicated on assumptions. There may be members of the squad who did not grow up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Because of their cultural differences, they were unable to fully participate in the activity. More evidence that assumptions abound!
Piece Together a Story
Hearing someone explain something in their own words and interpreting it into what you need to know to help solve the problem is one of the most important skills in support. Because an agent can almost always see what the customer is doing thanks to SaaS and screen sharing capabilities, this has become a lot easier. There are, however, times when piecing together a tale without having access to the entire picture is crucial.
This ability can also come in handy when discussing difficulties with colleagues from other departments. For example, if a salesperson describes a situation from their point of view, your agents must convert that into the actions they must do to assist the prospect and guarantee the sale is completed.
The Story Card Game is one of my all-time favourite team activities for demonstrating how we communicate when we lack visibility to the bigger picture. It makes use of a sequence of picture cards to communicate a tale. Each participant is given one or two cards that contain a fraction of the complete story, and the team is given a time limit to arrange all of the cards in the correct order without ever exposing each other what is on them.Language and critical thinking are keys to success at this exercise.
How will they organise themselves? What questions do you think they’ll ask? Will two persons gazing at the same object have different descriptions of it, and who will realise they are seeing the same thing? It’s a good comparison for how a customer expresses a problem, and it’s similar to an optical illusion in which various viewers experience the same picture differently.
A strong Customer Experience necessitates ongoing expectation alignment among all stakeholders. The expectation could be as basic as “I’ll get back to you by the end of the day,” or as sophisticated as a long-term strategy for resolving the customer’s issue. In either case, it’s critical to identify and agree on expectations early on in the process. The Read and Follow test is a wonderful way to demonstrate this. Although there are several variations, the core assumption is that expectations aren’t always apparent. The student is expected to follow each instruction to the letter, which appears to be a reasonable expectation, yet many trainees ignore step one, “Read everything before doing anything.” When they recognise their error, you can talk about whether or not the expectation was clear.
This demonstrates how important it is for individuals to have clear expectations and how easy they can be misread when under duress. Another variation of this exercise resembles a simple math test, with a blank line for the response after each question. Give your students the task of “filling in all blanks.” Examine how many people filled in each blank space with Xs or scribbles instead of the correct answer, and consider if they followed expectations or if the expectations were unclear.
Satisfy without Solution
We will not always have the solution the customer desires in assistance, at least not right away. That’s why, regardless of whether you can fully resolve a customer’s issue, it’s critical to learn how to please them. Even if the remedy falls short or never materialises, tone, empathy, and action generate a positive customer experience. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Thomas Roosevelt is said to have said. This is what it means to satisfy clients in the absence of a solution. In many circumstances, your ability to care has a greater influence than your ability to know everything.
The Bartender exercise shows the point by putting different people in the same position but treating them differently. As you go through the activity, you’ll see that when the bartender exhibits concern, the CX improves. It’s common to not know the answer or require more time to research it, but it’s not acceptable to treat them badly, leave them waiting for a response, or simply guess.
Customers who understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it are more likely to have a favourable experience. Asking out-of-context questions or offering the customer many tests to try can make it appear as if the agent is unsure of what to do or is winging it. It can be aggravating for a consumer to have to invest time and effort in an action that has no clear result.
Sharing an attack plan for resolving the customer’s problem is one method to alleviate frustration. These plans will clearly state what you require, why you require it, and will assist the client in following the processes and thinking process. The “What are you doing?” game is a fun way to demonstrate how annoyance may build up. There’s a lot of room for you to utterly stupefy your volunteer as you do more and more weird things, but the message is clear: even the most apparent processes can seem ridiculous if you don’t explain them.
Your team is completely aware of how you assist your customers, but the consumer may be unaware. Explaining processes and expectations clearly will save your consumers time and irritation while also improving their experience.
Teaching Customer Experience Skills
Top-notch customer service benefits both your employees and your company. Customer experience skills, like any other talent, require ongoing practise and training. The exercises in this post are innovative methods to get your team thinking about how they might enhance their customer service. Each exercise employs a somewhat exaggerated situation to demonstrate the importance of communicating and behaving with consumers in a way that minimises their effort and irritation. They’re quick and entertaining, and they’d be a great addition to your next team outing. Furthermore, with a little imagination, many of these games can be played remotely.
Teaching customer service skills is not a one-time event or a classroom activity. The lessons your team learns through these games must be reinforced on a regular basis through ticket QA, sharing instances in team meetings, recognising exceptional effort, and, most importantly, direct linkages to your team’s and business’s success.