Companies that provide quality customer support positively influence customer perceptions of their brand and face easier paths to customer loyalty. According to a survey by Yotpo, 56% of customers said they’d spend more on a brand they’re loyal to even if cheaper options exist. That’s why in today’s price competitive market, turning your customer support agents into highly proficient brand ambassadors is a vital component of a holistic customer retention strategy.
While an average call center agent may provide a basic level of service that meets expectations, a brand ambassador is able to regularly achieve high levels of emotional engagement with customers. This form of engagement results in customer sentiment that has the most value, according to The DNA of Customer Experience. The book recounts a 50,000 participant survey conducted at the London Business School with the goal of assigning values to emotions. They narrowed down 20 baseline emotions that “drive” or “destroy” business value and grouped them into clusters, forming the hierarchy of emotional value:
The top two tiers of the hierarchy are the Advocacy Cluster and Recommendation cluster. These clusters contain emotions that are most strongly linked to long-term brand loyalty and customer retention. “Happy” and “Pleased” are the pinnacle of emotions, while “Trusting”, “Valued”, “Focused”, “Safe”, and “Cared for” are also highly desired. The Attention cluster, located in the middle of the pyramid, contains positive emotions that are linked to short-term spend. “Interesting”, “Energetic”, “Exploratory”, “Indulgent” are important emotions in the short-term as they attract customers to brands in the first place.
An average agent typically only sways customer sentiment towards emotions in the Attention cluster. Brand ambassadors, however, strive to make customers feel emotions associated with the top two tiers. When customers leave an interaction “Happy” and “Pleased”, they are likely to become an advocate for the brand. When an agent successfully makes a customer feel “Valued” and “Cared for”, they are likely to recommend the brand to family and friends.
Making customers feel these powerful emotions during every interaction is the most effective way to incorporate brand values into customer journeys and drive customer retention. Alternatively, if emotions in the Attention Cluster are not maintained, the customer may consequently feel emotions in the Destructive Cluster such as “Irritation”, “Neglect”, or “Disappointment”. These negative emotions are often associated with customer attrition.
How can call centres transform agents into brand ambassadors?
What the hierarchy of emotional value shows is that an agent’s words and behaviors can make or break a customer’s perception of a brand. Therefore, nurturing a team of brand ambassadors should be a top priority for businesses seeking effective ways to drive customer loyalty. Here are five ways to transform customer support agents into brand ambassadors:
- Comprehensive training – Before hiring, agents should have important soft skills that are essential to spreading brand values (our blog post explains this in detail). Branded messaging should be taught and emphasized throughout each phase of training.
- Motivation and encouragement – Managers should regularly aim to inspire and encourage their teams so that customers are always talking to a motivated agent. This can be accomplished during work meetings or through productive teambuilding exercises.
- Personalise interactions – With CRM systems in place to instantly collect and display customer interaction data, agents are now able to foster better relationships with customers. Personalising each interaction should go beyond a mere reading of a customer’s call history, but also act on actionable insights based on customer interaction data. This gives the brand ambassador the optimal amount of context to handle the interaction with appropriate empathy and understanding. Learn more about personalisation using data in our previous blog post.
- Merchandising (Optional) – Be it the airlines, telecom, or even oil & gas, giving agents free brand merchandise is an effective way to help agents take ownership of a brand. An agent who owns products from their employer’s brand is far more likely to understand its use case and promote it to their friends and family.
- Extra Budgeting for Special Requests (Optional) – Empower brand ambassadors to provide the best experience possible by allocating them a discretionary budget to spend on customer rewards. This enables them to provide extra incentives in the form of discounted products, fee waivers or other perks during certain interactions that demand it.
These are some of the main methods by which customer support agents can be trained to become highly proficient brand ambassadors. At Scicom, we work with clients to understand their customer base better and identify innovative ways to incorporate branding into customer journeys. For more information about our solutions, visit our website.