Welcome to the second blog of our series “Managing the moments that matter in contact centre interactions”.

Here we look at two crucial contact centre agent behaviours; owning customer issues and anticipating customer needs. Getting both right can build trust, elevate customer satisfaction and reduce repeat contact.

Demonstrate ownership of customer issues

Taking ownership requires agents assume responsibility for resolving a customer’s enquiry or issue. This involves acknowledging it, taking control, and committing to finding a satisfactory solution.

Unfortunately, many agents fail to explicitly declare this commitment to customers, missing a crucial opportunity. Simply stating “I’ll be able to help you with that right now” not only imparts confidence, it also builds trust between customers and the organisation.

It’s concerning that nearly 7 in 10 agents fail to make a clear offer of ownership according to CSBA’s evaluations. Agents need to be clear and confident in their offer of ownership, using action-oriented phrases such as “help”, “assist”, “address” or “fix”, in combination with phrases that convey immediacy like “now”, “straight away” and “immediately”. It is not enough to simply say “How may I help you?”

In our previous post, we emphasised the importance of personalising experiences, including asking for and using customers names, a practice few agents employ. Addressing customers by name personalises interactions and conveys courtesy and respect. Our research reveals a strong correlation between this and other favourable behaviours. For instance, when agents ask for customers’ names, they are 34% more likely to demonstrate ownership and commitment to resolving issues. Moreover, agents who seek permission to ask deeper probing questions are almost twice as likely (48%) to demonstrate ownership. These findings underscore the importance of consistently implementing key agent behaviours, given their potential to drive highly positive outcomes.

Anticipate future customer needs:

To provide customers with tailored solutions, agents must ask the right questions. While agents are typically proficient at asking general question such as clarifying account details or personal information, around three quarters fail to ask effective questions that help them better understand the nuances of customers’ situations. Unsurprisingly, this oversight results in repeated contact and amplifies customer frustration.

Skilfully posed specific questions enable agents to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s enquiry, paving the way for a more detailed, tailored resolution. Employing a mix of open-ended and closed questions allows agents to delve deeper into the enquiry or issue, expanding their understanding and demonstrating greater care and dedication to addressing the customer’s needs.

Agents can further improve outcomes by anticipating customers’ future needs and proactively offering valuable information. However, our research shows less than 1 in 10 agents do this. By asking deeper questions, and clarifying customer needs, agents can leverage their knowledge to anticipate future enquiries or issues, making it easier for customers to do business in future.

Agents demonstrating ownership and fostering a curious mindset require skill, training, and practice. If your contact centre team could benefit from expert training in this area, please reach out to our team.

In our final blog of this series, we’ll look at key behaviours contact centre agents can adopt to fully resolve customer’s enquiries and issues.