Customers Say the Darnest Things…But Why? 4-Part Series
A blog series that focuses on ‘why’ customers say what they say in their feedback of service provided
In conclusion of our 4-Part series to examine why customers say what they say, we want to leave you with some really off the wall customer comments. Everyone knows that certain someone in their life that tends to be a bit long-winded with a response or offers way too much information with what they say. Well, some customers are no different and, yes, there are times when we find ourselves scratching our heads saying, “did he just say that?”
Most times we receive customer feedback from post call surveys, that is relevant to the call and clearly indicates why a customer is happy and gave a high score or not happy and gave a low score for a product or service. Through such rationales, we note trends on either a product malfunction or a call center agent’s performance. But during the survey calibration process when we receive a comment that has little to no relevancy to the request for an explanation of a score, we need to remind ourselves that our customers are people too. People have problems outside of this particular experience with an organization. When we look at the “why” versus the “what”, sometimes these extraneous influences appear to have no rhyme or reason. It could be any number of things such as frustrations with a factor in their life, health issues, family problems or just plain loneliness. What is important in this type of customer feedback is how the call center agent handles the customer while they are on the phone.
Why be concerned with the underlying influences behind a customer explanation for a score given about the experience? Well, it has to do with an increase in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and creating a positive word of mouth. If you can better understand your customers, you can create a better environment for the service interaction. You can also educate your agents about how to deal with the loquacious customer and use this information as a training opportunity. And most importantly, the use of this information within the survey calibration process assure your agents that a better understanding of why consumers sometimes say the things they do can affect whether or not they are held responsible for the scores. After all, customers do say the darndest things sometimes which are clues for the ownership of the experience evaluations.
Yesterday we posted some funny customer comments which gave us a good laugh. These customer comments also gave us yet another good reason to focus on “the why” vs. “the what.” Even though we all love Happy Customers (as opposed to Angry Customers), some folks can take their affection a little too far.
When we engage with people on the phone whom we have never met, we often paint a picture of how they look based on their voice, tone, or manner. We do it when we speak to customers, prospects, receptionists, and call center agents.
These mental pictures are drawn from our own personal experiences. Perhaps the way an agent sounds is reminiscent of someone from our past. This person may sound like a high school sweetheart so naturally we paint this person as attractive or with the same hair coloring or body type as we remember. We then alter the interaction with our perception of this person. Perhaps this leads us to be extra nice or even flirtatious. An agent might also sound condescending in their tone of voice which changes the mental picture to be one more negative. Perhaps this situation reminds us of a former boss or supervisor. Then to conversation is very different as the reaction is as if we were speaking with that individual rather than the call center agent.
When dealing with customer service via the telephone, consumers have very little to frame the expectation beyond the perception of the company and naturally rely on the tone of voice and how an agent “sounds”. This is why many agents are trained to “talk with a smile in their voice” and coaches focus on the greeting and delivery to underscore and maybe uplift the company reputation.
In our final part of this 4-Part Series, we’ll take a look at the customer who doesn’t appear to have a true reason for saying what they say. Or do they?
As we mentioned in Part 1, Customer Relationship Metrics has been collecting customer data and comments for more than sixteen years. When we decided to step away from analysis about what customers are saying and consider why they are saying what they are saying, we uncovered new reasons for customer behaviors. We previously took a look at the “Happy Customer,” so it seems only natural to flip the coin and take a look at the “Not-so-happy-customer, the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore Customer”, in short “The Angry Customer.” So angry, they have their minds set on ruining your reputation.
While yesterday’s “Knuggets and Knuckleheads” gave us a good laugh, these customer comments also gave us good reason to focus on “the why” VS. “the what” of an “Angry Customer”. In a previous blog, we talked about “the what” and what happens when a customer has a bad experience with your organization . As we take a look at “the why,” we get more of an understanding of the customer’s behavior.
We have all suspected that satisfaction in one life role may be transferred into other life roles, like an agent taking a bad mood out on a customer and a customer taking things out on an agent. The expression of frustration or dissatisfaction with a product/service may actually be exacerbated by the consumer feeling frustrated in other life roles and not only the consumer role. Just as agents must manage the delivery of service, so must they detect and manage various issues for the caller – all with the company’s best interest at the forefront.
How do the co-dependent roles affect the customer experience? Consider that self-perceptions bias judgments such that consumers (or agents) often see themselves more positively and their role to be more valuable, important, or influential than is actually the case. They will see themselves as being one of the best and a very important customer (or employee) to your business and view the experience from that vantage point. The self-serving bias allows people to take responsibility for their successes, but to usually blame others for their failures. Therefore, if a customer buys an expensive car, it is seen as a success, but if the car does not work, no matter what they did to influence it, it will be due to other’s actions (the mechanic didn’t help, the car was a lemon, etc.). Similarly, agents will have a tendency to blame the customer for the failed service delivery.
This is an important concept for customer interactions because research has shown that blaming others for product dissatisfaction permits one to direct anger outward, toward the company, rather than to oneself. And, this is important for your agents because accountability is obviously critical to the process of development.
In Part 3 of this 4-Part Series, we’ll take a look at the over-zealous customer. How much of a good thing is too much? We’ll explore why happy customers feel the need to take it one step further.
As part of our role in customer care in call centers, we have been taught to ask customers for their opinions in order to make our service delivery a better customer experience for them. Customer feedback is a tool to improve service, which can make service a competitive advantage, and is usually a source of invaluable information. But sometimes, as we collect real-time feedback with post-call surveys from our partners’ customers, Customer Relationship Metrics (Metrics) hears the darndest things.
In Part 1 of this 4-Part series, we will take a look at the delighted customer. In fact, so delighted you have to check out their comments here in yesterday’s “Knuggets and Knuckleheads” to see what we are referring to.
After collecting customer data and comments for more than eleven years, Metrics decided to step away from customer experience analysis about what customers are saying and consider why they are saying it. What motivates customers to say the things that they actually say? Their behaviors.
Since customers are not able to see and have never met the agents they interact with, they create a mental image of what this person must be like using expectations and prior experience as a guide. Consumers are motivated to categorize others because it makes their lives simpler and provides a feeling of control. Callers, therefore, will know (or think they know) how to handle a situation in which they are dealing with people they don’t know because they have mentally categorized it. People will naturally compare others to a prototype they have in their mind to make the situation easier and manageable.
When people call for customer service, they begin with a prototype in mind of what the agent should be like and how the interaction should go. When an agent fits the prototype, and even goes beyond what the consumer believes to be the prototype, then Wow Factor feedback is collected.
In Part 2 of this 4-Part Series, we’ll take a look at the not-so-happy customer. Here we’ll see how poor customer service leads to negative behavior and, even worse, how it in turn negatively affects your brand.