The Human Touch

Most organisations train their customer service staff to use a script so that specific greetings, phrases and company slogans are recited to all customers in a cheerful, upbeat voice. Unfortunately, this means that customers rarely receive the guidance and support they need because the customer service team are unable to handle situations that require them to think outside the box. This often results in customers asking to speak to the manager.

When a customer contacts you and asks to speak to a representative they have rejected your automated response options and want a real human to help them. If your customer service staff simply stick to a script in such situations the customer will quickly become frustrated and you could lose future business.

Where a script is followed it makes employees sound as if they aren’t engaged or personable, and this makes it hard for the customer to feel like they’re being helped in the best way possible.

A script will address typical scenarios and so does not account for circumstances that are out of the ordinary. This causes problems because your customer service staff can be caught off guard and so will be less likely to be able to relate to the customer’s needs or feelings. The interaction is, therefore, not effective as your customer service staff are literally not on the same page as the customer they are speaking with.

Customer service staff need to be trained so they can safely go off script. This allows them to use their instinct, values and common sense to make a meaningful connection with the customer. In other words, to provide the human touch.

Here are some tips that will help your customer service team do this:

1. Train them to really listen.
Your customers want to be heard and to feel that you are really listening. Train your team to not interrupt and to listen to the customer’s entire story before they respond. Show them how to take notes about any questions they want to ask or facts they will need to get in order to work through the issue.

2. Train them how to demonstrate empathy.
Empathy is about connecting to the feelings the customer has expressed. This can be done by making a simple statement, such as: ‘That sounds awful…’ or ‘That must be so frustrating!’ This technique shows the customer that you have heard and connected to both what they have said and the emotions that accompany it. When your team can empathise they show they can relate to the problem and want to help solve it.

3. Train them to get all the facts
It is important that your customer service team can go systematically through the issue with the customer and make sure they have all the factual information before offering information or a solution. This is crucial, otherwise they will miss important details of the problem and so end up providing a faulty solution or the wrong advice.

They need to learn how to ask for specifics - times, dates, names - and to restate or repeat back what they have heard. They also need to learn what to do if they don’t understand the customer.

By learning to get all the facts they will show that they are trying to find a solution and it gives the customer reassurance that they are listening to everything in detail.

4. Train them to be direct and practical
Once the facts have been gathered and the problem understood, your customer service team need to know how to give the customer a direct answer and a practical solution. This requires a degree of assertiveness.

They need to know how to respond honestly with their thoughts, plans and whatever resources they have to resolve the issue. They must learn to be crystal clear and promise only what can be delivered. They must also learn how to manage expectations.

5. Train them to stay calm
Whatever is thrown at your customer service team by you customers- anger, hysteria, or accusations – they need to develop the skills and confidence to stay calm and this means learning how to take control of the situation in order to direct the customer and point out inappropriate behaviour without being rude or inconsiderate.

Learning how to use a soothing tone and patient manner is an effective way to help an angry customer to relax and will make it much easier to get to the root of the problem.

When you train your customer service team how to safely go 'off script' you increase their ability to assist and satisfy your customers and this ultimately benefits the business.

Spearhead can provide tailored or bespoke customer service training for you team. Contact us for details.