The business media world bursts with stories of entrepreneurs starting new ventures, many of which are powered by cloud contact centers. Then their company grows exponentially as they continually gain new customers. Until they don’t.
While these stories are enticing and inspiring, many of these companies end up losing massive amounts of money.
The lesson: they spent too much money on acquiring new customers and could not figure out how to profitably retain them. Retaining customers is the x-factor in any successful long-term company.
In fact, according to Bain Capital, repeat customers in most industries generate more profits each year. For example, in the financial services industry, a “5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.”
So how can cloud contact centers use this knowledge to keep customers happy and coming back for more?
Workforce Optimization (WFO): The First Step to Building Superior Customer Retention
Any cloud contact center worth their weight in customer service gold knows that hiring and training the right people virtually guarantees returning customers.
Contact center managers need agents who have the soft skills to minimize friction for customers and solve their problems quickly.
But aiming to only hire agents who have already developed these skills, while a good goal, isn’t a strategy that can be relied on.
Training is always required to get new agents up to speed. When it comes to soft skills, that means going beyond the basics.
Managers need data to support agents in developing soft skills while taking their service to a higher level.
That’s where cloud-based Workforce Optimization (WFO) comes in.
WFO tools for cloud contact centers record every agent’s activity including: their customer conversations, key performance indicators (KPIs) like first call resolution (FCR) rate, customer feedback, quality management, and much more.
Once managers gather this information, they identify areas of opportunity, create a plan, and execute…
What are Soft Skills?
Before we dive into how managers help agents improve their performance, let’s define what we mean by “soft skills.”
Soft skills combine a person’s attitudes, personality, and character traits with their communication, social, and people skills. People with strong soft skills are generally more flexible and navigate a variety of personal relationships with a positive attitude.
In other words, these are precisely the people a cloud contact center manager wants to interface with customers.
Of course, agents with strong hard skills like how to navigate various work processes bring value, too. Generally, agents acquire hard skills through on-the-job training in a linear fashion.
Developing soft skills is a different challenge.
Either way, if a manager can help agents fulfill their potential in both skill sets, they not only have made their agents’ and customers’ lives better.
They’ve hit the customer retention jackpot.
Next, we’ll highlight some specific soft skills agents need and how managers can help them improve.
Important Soft Skills and How to Develop Them
All new cloud contact center agents possess some level of soft skills upon starting the job. Here are some of the most essential soft skills and how managers can help.
Perhaps the most critical soft skill for all agents is empathy.
Agents need to visualize themselves in the caller’s place. They need to feel the pain of an unresolved issue and communicate their understanding. If the agent pretends to be empathetic or doesn’t show it at all, the caller will know.
In these cases, the manager can replay recorded conversations and explain how their vocal tone and responses irritated (or soothed) the caller. Then the manager could make the agent an active part of the process, asking them how they could improve next time.
Managers can also prompt the agent “I apologize that your service isn’t working properly. And on a holiday, no less. I’m happy to help solve this issue. But first, do you mind if I just ask a couple more questions so we can fix this right away?” Suggesting answers and repeated back and forth practice will really help in this arena.
Any agent who hopes to be one of the best needs to be coachable.
That means they need to be open to feedback and realize every customer interaction won’t be perfect.
Receiving constructive feedback is hard for most people. They might feel attacked or not good enough.
Managers need to understand this going into any feedback meeting. They must communicate their belief in the agent and stress that it’s not personal.
Reminding the agent about the contact center’s goal of satisfying and retaining customers is also a good idea.
Managers can also utilize particular KPIs essential to any cloud contact center in the conversation. The truth is, managers are similar to agents: they have KPIs they need to meet and someone expecting results or change to meet those results. In that way, managers can relate to the agent.
In coaching conversations, managers should reiterate KPI expectations. Since KPIs are objective measures (and also, therefore, less personal), they can help break down agent resistance to feedback.
There’s More to Customer Retention Than Agents with Great Soft Skills…
Using WFO and Agent Gateway to train and coach agents to deliver the best, most efficient customer service is a must.
That’s not the only thing a profitable cloud contact center needs to keep its customers, though.
One crucial, undeniable part of customer retention is maintaining regulatory compliance.
Because sometimes knowing what not to do is as vital as knowing what to do.
Customers who feel pushed around, pressured, and misunderstood by agents with poor soft skills will never return.
But, many times, it’s hard for managers to know if their call center complies with legal expectations.
One wrong regulatory move could cost cloud contact centers thousands of dollars, if not more.
Nowadays, even the best call center managers find it challenging to know and understand all the latest regulatory developments.
Lucky for cloud contact center managers everywhere, TCN just put together The Complete Guide to TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and a compliance checklist for all call centers.
All of which are completely free!
Promote customer retention while steering clear of legal issues and download the free guide today!