Customer support is an interesting and amazing career. Day in and day out, it provides the support agents with an opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds and age. It is challenging because, support agents need to meet expectations of a demanding person on the other side through conversation. To gain a clear understanding of how a free customer support system functions, let’s delve a little deep into this topic.

A typical customer support system:  Customer support is a critical component of customer life cycle management.  Customer support agents play an invaluable role in the post-sale and customer retention stages of customer life cycle.  If an organization is product manufacturing company, the support team could play an active role after the purchase of the product by customer.  Customers during the course of usage of the product, may across several challenges. Customer may reach out to the customer support team for solutions to his challenges. Agents need to level up with customers who might be emotionally charged when they contact them.  On top of it, they are not at liberty to take their own time for closing conversation with customer. Their interactions are monitored for quality purpose. They are expected to maintain customer etiquette. Based on the nature of industry the organization is part of, organizations may have multiple support channels such as email, web chat and telephone etc.  Of all the different modes of interaction, the voice support or telephonic support is comparatively challenging as support agent needs to resolve customer issue on the spot or at least request for more time to get back to the customer with a resolution if it is not available at the time of interaction.

Negativity in customer support: Customers contact the support center for varied reasons. Nowadays majority of the organizations maintain an issue and resolution manual to assist their support personnel while providing resolution to customers.  The issue and resolution manual is prepared based on the previous interactions with customer. It will have all the issues faced by customer while using the product. It will also have the resolution provided by support personnel when customer reached out to contact center.  In spite of maintaining the issue and resolution manual which covers majority of customer issues, it cannot and will not be a fool proof guide in providing support to customers. Hence, there could be situations where a customer may reach out to the contact center and his issues or needs may not get resolved then and there.  Addressing the issue of customer on the very first call is called First Call Resolution and majority of the organizations aspire to increase their first call resolution rate. However, it is impossible to make every ‘issue related call’ of customer, a first call resolution. This fact is universal and something that the customer himself may be aware of.  However, he may not bother about all these things when he contacts the customer center and would definitely demand for a resolution if not available at the time of interaction. This kind of situation could yield into some negativity.

How to handle negativity?  Negativity is inevitable in customer support. After all, when there is an interaction between a customer and business, customer will definitely have in the back of his mind that he is the ‘king’ and should be treated like one.  He would be emotionally charged and there is every possibility that he may vent his frustration on the support personnel. Does this mean that the support personnel have to bear all the tantrums of the customers when he is frustrated?  Definitely not. So, let’s see how negativity in customer support solution can be tackled.

Training:  The best way to avoid negativity is to train support personnel on their soft skills and client service skills.  When a frustrated customer contacts the support center and if he comes across a support agent who does not have a resolution and who does not understand what he is speaking, the situation can easily get escalated.  Hence, organizations should give high importance on training and empower its personnel to manage all types of customers.

Product knowledge base:  Organizations should also give due importance to its product knowledge base which can go a long way in helping its support personnel during their interactions with customers.  A good knowledge base will definitely give scope for an increased rate of first call resolution. Customers will be happy when their issues are addressed in their very first call.  Thus organizations can prevent the scope of any negativity creeping in during support personnel interactions with customers.

Manage the interaction:  It is easier to recognize an unhappy customer at the very beginning of the interaction.  When people are emotional, they get carried away and they tend to drive the conversation.  However, support personnel should be the anchor of the conversation and not the other way. They should understand the fact that the objective behind customer reaching out to support center is for assistance and their responsibility is to address the customer’s needs.  They should not get carried away and flow into the conversation replying to whatever customer asks and feel sad when the customers vents his anger or frustration. They should politely interact and may even remind the customer if the conversation is getting diverted from the purpose of his calling.  

 

Published by Charlesa Gibson