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4 Tips for Training Call Center Employees to Provide the Human Touch

Customers calling agents for answers expect more than chatbot-like responses.

Even as hotel, insurance, billing and many other types of businesses offer omnichannel options for contact, including chat bots, text messages, email, social media and mobile apps, many customers still prefer to sometimes call and speak with an agent.

In fact, 58 percent of consumers surveyed prefer making a call, and 48 percent prefer live chat for simple service requests, according to a customer experience report based on results from a survey of more than 1,000 consumers by customer service software company Zendesk.

When it comes to complicated requests, the customer preference for phone interaction jumps to 76 percent. And 37 percent say that not being able to contact customer service through their preferred channel — such as not being able to find your customer support phone number on your website, for example — can turn their quest for answers into a bad customer experience.

“The difference between good and excellent contact center [customer experience] is providing customers with a human touch,” according to customer experience contact center software platform provider Upstream Works.

“As digital channels and AI become more prevalent in contact centers, customers are looking for more in their experiences with human agents, something they can’t receive from bots and self-service channels — a sense of humanity, empathy and having their feelings and frustrations validated.”

Chatbots can provide quick answers to simple questions, but customers expect a well-trained call center agent to be able to converse, explain and offer a more detailed response than a bot.

Here are four tips for training call center agents to provide the human touch to customers.

1.  Create a human-centric culture

“Providing humanized customer experiences starts at the top of the organization,” says Upstream Works. “To be a truly customer and human-centered business, care for both employees and customers should be part of your business model.”

Upstream Works recommends showing employees that your company values both their professional and personal lives. For example, when you offer a generous benefits package, along with ongoing training, along with educational and promotion opportunities, agents feel appreciated and are more likely to be helpful and pleasant to callers.

“This will help to keep agents engaged and empower them to represent the human-focused business model in every interaction with customers,” says Upstream Works. “And it’s this human connection that will drive customer loyalty.”

2. Hire “emotionally intelligent” agents

Agents with emotional intelligence (EQ) naturally understand how to handle interactions with callers so customers feel heard while keeping their own emotions under control.

Emotionally intelligent contact center agents can identify and regulate emotions, including their own during calls so they can keep their focus on the customer. “Combined with customer data, agents with a high EQ will be equipped to provide a truly empathy-driven customer experience,” says Upstream Works.

3. Train agents to practice empathy statements

Whether an agent is naturally empathetic or could use some guidance in that area, all agents benefit from training on how to use language to convey their empathy, understanding and validation of the caller’s feelings about a situation.

Examples of empathy statements include:

  • I’m sorry this is frustrating, and I’m going to do my best to resolve the issue.
  • I’m glad you called so that I can help you with this issue.
  • I understand your frustration. I’d be frustrated too. I’ll work with you to fix the issue so this won’t be a problem in the future.

4. Train agents to listen and get all the facts

Train call center agents to ask for specifics such as times, dates and names and to repeat back what the customer told them, advises Spearhead Training Group, a training solutions company headquartered in the UK.

“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,” says Spearhead Training Group.

“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.”