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Ideas & Debate

Hire customer service agents that possess emotional intelligence

When a customer calls with a query, they like
When a customer calls with a query, they like to be treated like they are important. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

When research works perfectly it acts like a crystal ball that lays your future out in front of you, giving insight into what pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities to seize.

We once wanted a glimpse into the future of the regions telecommunications industry and knowing that there weren’t any credible fortune tellers readily available, we chose instead to convene a high-level panel of elite industry veterans.

They demonstrated how the early decisions made by policy makers and industry captains established a framework from which we could project the course of the local sector with an understanding of global initiatives and case studies from countries on the cutting edge.

Unsurprisingly there is a focus on meeting the expectations of the customer with a commoditized product in a highly competitive arena. Apart from a great reliance on branding to create an emotional connection with their target audiences, the biggest cause of user churn is customer service.

Get your customer service right and you’ll keep your customers. Do it very well and they’ll turn into advocates, and there’s nothing more effective for bringing in new customers than this. Do it badly and they will be leaving for the competition in droves.

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You’ve got to get your customer service team to think long term and consider the lifetime value of each customer so that they can make intelligent decisions about every encounter. It’s short-termism that destroys relationships and staff without a service IQ will leave customers weeping and gnashing teeth.

Once you’ve got people with the right amount of emotional intelligence, give each of them a copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s bestseller ‘How To Make Friends And Influence People’ and then send them on to a public image course. When they first walk through a customer’s door, they’ve got to set the tone and create a strong impression – they should to look right, sound smart and smell good.

As much as we harp on about not judging a book by the cover, human nature obviously has other ideas. That’s why the Preacher Man is perfectly groomed and wears tailored suits because it helps to get his church bursting at the seams when he delivers his highly entertaining sermons.

You can borrow a leaf from the charismatic men of the cloth and offer a sensory treat with every encounter.

You might have a product that is quite technical by nature and it may seem prudent to fill your customer service team with engineers.

The trouble with engineers is that they are more interested in nuts-and-bolts and hard facts and don’t care much for soft skills. To them, you either get it or you don’t, and if you don’t maybe the product is not for you.

When a customer calls with a query, they like to be treated like they are important and as if the customer service agent is exclusively focused on solving their problem. It’s rather annoying when you get a typical engineer on the other end who is hell bent on proving that he is smarter than you.

When you read between the lines you hear “I know a lot more about this product than you ever will, so you can toss the contents of your recent Google searches into a deep, dark hole.”

Be cognizant of the things that can be taught and those that come with the package at birth – technical knowledge can be taught.

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