CETS 2021 Q1 Newsletter Featured Article from Bob Bridges

IVR’s have grown in complexity and the ability to route calls to certain reps and channels. Unfortunately, the caller must navigate menus with growing frustration. The end result can give the caller a good news/bad news experience. After the relief at getting to a warm body, there is often disappointment that the actual rep sounds much like the digital guide in the IVR.

After decades of promoting the ‘customer experience’ how is it that the short, routine sales and customer service calls are mostly unremarkable and can be a liability to a business. The reasons are irrefutable, but solutions are attainable.

This article deals with a topic widely considered difficult and subjective, and too often where training misses the mark; the interactive communication skills of  reps when they deal with customers and prospects over the phone.

Technology has isolated reps and conditions their interactions by the cryptic language of social media. Remote work removes the rep from intra-office peer development that can help marginal reps ‘conform’ to a desired call flow. Technology is also a deterrent to human interaction. The result of commercial CRM applications interfacing with proprietary systems can mean laborious navigation. Quite often the customer becomes the third party to a rep having to interact with multiple desktop apps.

Technology has a co-conspirator, and it is a company’s marketing. There is an old expression, “The more you talk, the more you have to defend”. By extension, the more you bundle, the more you have to explain. Marketers love to promote all the goodness of a bundle, but they don’t do a reality check as to how that can translate into a short upsell effort to a customer who doesn’t want to stay on the phone with a rep.

So how do we turn these short, routine calls into business transactions that are professional, personable, and memorable? Turn to neuroscience. The latest research on how we think about what is conveyed to us (via a rep’s dialogue) falls into a set number of thoughts patterns. Here’s an example of an outbound sales call:

  • The phone rings and you answer
  • The caller says “Is this Bob?”
  • You confirm
  • The caller then says “Hi Bob, how are you today?”

How long do you think it takes before Bob’s brain realizes this is a sales call? Maybe a nanosecond. That last bullet is a killer. Instead, maybe we should speak to how Bob’s brain will react to a typical sales introduction and change the last comment above.

  • The rep Says “Thanks for answering. You didn’t expect my call so I’m only going to take 20 seconds to introduce myself and why I called.
  •  “If you are like 7 out of 10 people I talk to you will be glad you granted me 20 seconds, is that ok?)

The additional verbiage only takes a few seconds longer, yet it will disrupt Bob’s brain enough to extend the call for messaging.

Using thought patterns to establish business dialogues create a number of advantages. Calls go from presentational to conversational. Telemarketing scripting is like a tennis player hitting balls against a practice wall. The return volley (customer/prospect comment) is defined by the player’s volley. Instead, if the customer’s thoughts are addressed, the dialogue is like a tennis player playing against another person; real two-way communication.

Many companies outsource outbound telemarketing to third party vendors. What they want to consider is that those vendors are talking to their customers and they should want a continuity of experience. Do you think telemarketing calls promote customer loyalty? Companies that collaborate with their vendors and introduce new thought provoked sales tactics see conversion rates increase and early life churn drastically reduced.

Customer service calls generally outnumber tele sales calls by at least 6 to 1. And they can sound like this;

  • Rep- ” Thanks for calling- how may I help you?”
  • Customer- “My bill has a balance due from last month that I’ve already paid. Why isn’t it posted at your end?”
  • Rep- “What’s your security code?”
  • Customer – “What?  I don’t know, what else do you need?” 
  • Rep ” What’s the last four of your social security number?”
  • Customer- I already gave that to your IVR?” (exasperated as the rep still hasn’t addressed the callers need)

 Customer service calls will build relationships by knowing what the customer is thinking when they call. These are easy to predict as the call conforms to maybe a half dozen reasons customers need help. They need help but consider the time a disruption to their day and a real inconvenience. Alignment with a customer’s thoughts is real empathy without sympathy and the conversation leaves a positive residual feeling with the customer.

If you are buying a car, who’s word carries more weight; the salesman or the mechanic who works on that type of car? It’s the mechanic.

Even though the customer feels inconvenienced by a customer service issue, they need to feel that the CSR they are talking to is an expert in resolving their issue. There are a number of thought linked tactics available for the customer service rep to be the expert mechanic that aligns the dialogue with customer concerns.

“Ah, to be carefree, floating in a sea of mediocrity”. That phrase has vast compliance as call types and desktop navigation, along with cryptic language of our digital world result in depersonalized and half-hearted communication. The assembly line of human interactions can hypnotize reps and lull them into conditioned responses and satisfying just minimal call requirements.  However, experts are not mediocre. When a mechanic ‘fixes it’ and  punctuates the customer experience with new thought aligned dialogues, a red carpet has been unrolled for customer loyalty.

A major advantage to this new way of ‘thinking’ is that the rep gets immediate confirmation by the positive reactions from the caller.  The natural interactions are self-motivating and desired behavior is much easier to manage and reinforce.

The pandemic has caused internet and telephone transactions to dramatically increase. Don’t let the customer/prospect be subjected to the mechanical communication that they experience with protracted IVR’s. It’s actually a low bar to exceed; sounding natural where the rep is treating the customer the way the rep would like to be treated.

For more information on the new thought induced tactics for customer service and tele sales click on the like below and order the book “I Need to Speak to a Real Person”. It is filled with performance enhancing strategies and tactics that will transform your call center into a new partnership with your company’s marketplace.


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