• Mark Slatin

How can executive listening drive customer loyalty?


The other day I called a contact center. Maybe you've had a similar experience?


"Hi I'd like to speak to the person who handles billing."


...they spent 5 minutes asking me verification after I had input that information before they picked up....


...another 5 minutes passed because he couldn't spell the address correctly...


"Alright, I see you are calling about your billing information. How can I help you?"


"My bill is not correct. I'd like to get it corrected."


"Ok, I see, you're calling because your bill is not correct, am I right?"


"You guessed it."


"Ok, Mr. Mark, don't worry, I'm going to help you today! Let me put you on hold for a minute"


...five minutes pass by...


"Ok, Mr. Mark"


...very long pause


"I see, well, you are going to need to call during office hours, when our billing department is open"


"When do they close?"


"Our billing department closes at 4:30, they just closed 5 minutes ago."


"Thank you, I'll call back tomorrow."


"Ok so let me summarize, you were calling because you had a billing problem and you wanted to get it corrected. I'm sorry I couldn't help you, but would you mind filling out a brief survey...?"


- - -


Can you feel your pulse increase? Maybe your jaw clenches and your head throbs?


These are emotions that travel through your body when you have a bad customer experience.


It leads to some really bad business outcomes like customer defection, bad word of mouth, and less share of wallet.


According to a Buzztime Business survey, 35% of consumers said they canceled their service or stopped using a brand altogether because of long wait times.


Engaging Leadership: But How?


One of the most impactful activities I conducted was executive listening. We asked our senior leaders to put on the headsets and sit beside the contact center reps to experience their lives first hand.


Nothing quite has the impact to create change like walking in their shoes. They witnessed first hand, the customer's frustration but also the struggle the contact center reps deal with every day.


The Power of Empathy


This initiative was powerful because the executives learned three valuable things:

  1. The contact center reps were doing heroics in order to deliver for customers.

  2. Customer reps would often have to log in to seven different systems they needed to research in order to respond to some customer questions.

  3. Some customer inquiries required the contract center rep to call a third party vendor and wait for a call back to answer the customer.

In the contact center, FCR or first call resolution is a common metric (simply % of calls resolved after the customer’s first initiation with you). Customer want you to "handle it now" so the issue gets resolved and they don't have to keep calling back.


What impact do you think these three realities had on FCR? Wait times? Abandonment rates? etc.


And what impact do you think they had on customer sentiment metrics like Net Promoter, Satisfaction, or Customer Effort?


Results


I'm not sure any of these metrics are what truly convinced the executive team to make a seven figure investment in a solution. I think it was the empathy that could only come from executive listening.


The reason the executive listening activity was so powerful is because it had a huge influence on the implementation of a new CRM system that orchestrated all the systems into one interface.


It wasn’t a panacea for all of the issues, but it equipped the contact center reps with a critical tool they needed in order to “handle it now!”


Empathy in this case, in the form of executive listening, resulted in significant change to improve the customer experience.


In what ways can your leadership walk in the shoes of employees to gain a deeper understanding that impacts your team and ultimately your customer’s experience?



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