Branded Conversations: Extending the Brand Voice to the Servicing Experience
By: Bruce Lebowitz
A well-known consumer financial services company launched a product for small businesses. This launch was accompanied by major advertising and comprehensive marketing campaign targeting small business owners and managers. The theme was that this product was designed exclusively for small businesses and would service their specific needs. As a top service provider in the consumer customer service space with high satisfaction scores, this company applied the same processes, principles and experience to their business product. And satisfaction scores suffered.
One Size Does Not Fit All
When listening to calls, it was clear that these small business owners and managers had different expectations from consumers. While many of the servicing tasks were exactly the same, the context of the call and the root problem driving the calls were different. As were the expectations. It was also clear that the business audience was speaking the language of business which was confusing the representatives, which in turn, was frustrating the callers.
The problem was not in the systems or procedures, but in the conversation itself. Business owners expected to have a business conversation and a business based solution, while the agents were steeped in consumer conversations and solutions.
What Motivates Your Customers
Clearly, a retraining was in order. The first order of business was to have the agents understand their caller. To do this, our training focused on what the caller may have experienced just before the call. What issue was the small business owner dealing with? What were their worries? Expectations? Desires? To help agents understand this we had to make them experience it. Thus, in the training we made the agents small business owners. As the agents entered the training they were greeted with a dossier describing “their” business and the issues they were facing. Some businesses were seasonal and experiencing cash flow issues. Some had just won a major contract and were faced with massive expansion. Some were experiencing a major client loss. Whatever their issues, they were, as owners, dealing with issues that often drove their own customers to call in.
Every aspect of the training from this point on was through the lens of their small business. The agents became as passionate about their business as real owners are. They felt panic when they couldn’t meet payroll. Exaltation combined with trepidation when facing having to double their staff, move to larger headquarters and meet impossible deadlines. Through it all the agents had “aha” moments when they really understood why their customers were rushed, impatient, frustrated and sometimes rude. They didn’t just intellectually understand, they lived it so they understood it emotionally.
Context Is Critical
Now, when an agent receives a call they think about what happened just before the call that drove them to pick up the phone. A change of address – simple, right? Well now, the agent inquires about the move. If moving into a larger space, the agent offers congratulations and asks if they need an increased line of credit. Late payment? Agent inquires about cash flow and offers a short-term loan. The agent now speaks the same language as the caller. By being in his/her shoes, the agent is able to understand the context of the call and service the caller and not just the immediate task. They don’t jump to conclusions. They don’t rush to complete the task without understanding the context.
Customer satisfaction has grown. The business training is now a core component of new hire training. And the small business owner sees that the brand promise of the small business product is backed by service dedicated to small business owners and managers. There is no longer a disconnect between the advertising and marketing and the servicing. The call center now supports the Brand and its message. There is no longer a disconnect between the agents and the callers. By translating the brand essence to the actual customer conversations that happen in the servicing center the promise of supporting small businesses is now fully baked into the servicing where the brand promise is delivered.
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