We’ve Lost the Art of Conversation. Here’s How to Get it Back

Today, nearly two-thirds of all Americans own a smartphone, but only 43% of all cell phone owners use their phones to talk.  People prefer to text and use messaging apps over holding a good, old-fashioned face-to-face or ear-to-ear conversation.  Thus, we are losing the art of the conversation.


The impact of this trend is reflected in modern customer service. Many consumers prefer to email or online chat with reps rather than picking up the phone.  While great service can be delivered electronically, being adept at providing digital service does not necessarily make an agent adept at delivering traditional service.  Online, reps rely heavily on scripts and canned responses, and that makes them more likely to lean on those tools heavily in person-to-person conversations, as well.


The Customer Experience And Conversation

A great customer experience can lead to higher satisfaction levels than a resolved issue. People would rather be treated well and empathized with than have their issue resolved quickly by someone delivering a poor experience. How satisfied would you be if you had your own issue resolved in three minutes but the rep was terse or rude, read from a script, didn’t listen when you spoke and rushed you off the call?


You can bring real conversation back to customer service by deploying tactics such as:

  • Ditch the scripts: Customers can tell when an agent is reading off of a script. Rather than making your agents read off a screen, give them freedom to hold a natural conversation.
  • Allow time for small talk: Too many agents are under pressure to keep calls short. Stop focusing on the length of a call and focus instead on quality. Encourage reps to engage in small talk with the customer whenever possible to help them build rapport.
  • Work empathy into your best practices: Every agent should empathize with his or her customers. As you block out the path for successful calls, teach agents to empathize by saying things like, “If that happened to me, I’d be upset, as well.”
  • Take advantage of your CMS: You likely gather a great deal of data about your customer base and store it in a CMS. Don’t just use it for marketing. Give customer service agents access to the details that can help them have a conversation and build rapport with callers, birthday information, family info, interests, etc., can all be useful fodder for friendly conversation.
  • Give reps ownership over every issue: Rather than bouncing people around if their issue must be escalated, make each rep “own” the resolution. If the issue cannot be resolved quickly, let the customer hang up and assure them that the same agent they spoke to will oversee the solution and call back when a resolution has been achieved.

People don’t necessarily want to spend an hour chatting with an agent, but a natural, flowing conversation can help create a positive customer experience.


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