For contact centers, effective problem solving is one of the most important skills an agent needs to possess. Unfortunately, problem solving isn’t always intuitive. In many cases, it needs to be learned through careful training and systemization.
Here are 9 steps contact center agents and managers can take to ensure effective problem solving on every call.
1) Define the problem
The first step in effective problem solving is that the contact center agent must know exactly what the problem is. Once the customer has stated the problem, it can be helpful for the agent to re-state the problem for clarification and validation by the customer.
In some cases, a customer may call with a broad problem and the contact center agent may be required to help the caller narrow the problem into a concrete issue that can be addressed.
2) Determine the root of the problem
For every caller’s concern, there will be a root. In some cases, the root is a lack of understanding. In others, it is a faulty good or service. In order to provide the best possible customer service for each call, the agent must be able to determine why the problem exists.
This can be done through a series of questions about how and when the problem arose and what the customer has done to fix it. Once the root of the problem has been identified and confirmed with the customer, it’s crucial that the contact center agent to understand the customer’s perception of the problem. This allows the agent to better understand the customer’s needs and to better address the problems at hand.
3) Determine how the problem affects the customer
Is the customer unable to use a good or service? Is he or she dissatisfied with a good or service? Does the customer simply need clarification about additional features? No matter what the problem is, it’s important that a contact center agent adequately understands how the issue affects the client. This will help the agent provide personalized service and fully address the client’s issues.
4) Check in with the customer
There is nothing more frustrating than a lack of communication during a customer service call and, if a customer feels that an agent misunderstands the issue or is not addressing what the customer wants, it can easily translate to a poor customer experience and negative word-of-mouth advertising.
To route around this, it’s imperative that the agent checks in with the customer at this point during the call. A question like “So the problem you would like to solve is X?” is a great way to do this. Although it may seem simple, this quick question can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the customer is getting exactly what he or she needs to be satisfied.
5) Consider possible solutions
Once the problem and its effect on the customer are thoroughly understood, the agent can begin to generate possible solutions. An agent can generate possible solutions by considering the client’s desires as well as actions other agents have taken to deal with similar problems. The agent should also consult with the customer at this point to ensure that all possible solutions are pleasing to the customer and will adequately resolve the issue.
6) Evaluate each solution
Each possible solution should be evaluated on the basis of its appropriateness, expediency, and effort. In many cases, there are several fixes for the same problem and the contact center agent will need to be able to quickly evaluate each solution based on these three traits. This evaluation will help ensure that the solution chosen is the correct one and that later fixes for the same problem are not needed.
7) Implement the solution
Depending upon the severity of the issue and the difficulty of the implementation itself, the fix for any given problem can vary widely. When choosing a solution, the agent should consider the implementation process. When it comes time to implement the solution, the contact center agent will need to work with the customer to plan the best implementation tactic.
In some cases, implementation will also require collaboration with other sectors of the company, which will be made easier when a company uses cloud-based SaaS. This can help make the implementation process expedient and seamless for both the customer and the agent.
8) Survey the customer
Once the solution has been implemented, it’s important to survey the customer about their experience. Was there anything they felt fell short of the mark? Did they need more support? Was there anything the agent did particularly well or particularly poorly? These customer insights can help ensure that future problem-solving phone calls are executed more smoothly.
9) Survey the agent
In addition to surveying the customer, each contact center should also survey its agents. Did the agent feel as if he or she had enough information to address the call sufficiently? Were the contact center’s systems up to par? Was he or she able to navigate the computer and various company platforms in a way that allowed the call to be dealt with efficiently? Were there any perceived inefficiencies the agent would prefer to do away with? Surveying both agents and customers can help ensure that contact centers are keeping their operations efficient, streamlined, and satisfactory for everyone involved.
For a contact center to perform well, management needs to check in with its problem-solving protocol occasionally. Doing this can help expose weaknesses in the system and places in which the contact center can improve to provide better service. For more information about streamlining customer service, contact Spice CSM today.