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Monday, July 9, 2018

How Storytelling Helps in Customer Service

Agents as the Organization’s Ears and Voice

Call center representatives play the vital role of being the ears of the organization. Most customers find filling formal surveys and questionnaires to be too cumbersome and a lot of feedback is left uncollected. However, customers give out titbits of information during phone conversations which can be eye-opening for the company. Call centers are data rich for this reason and as such should be more efficient in collecting customer stories. 

Agents at the same time are the voice of the company and customers will often judge the company according to their support team. How your agents carry themselves in conversation and share information adversely affects your brand image. This is why the reps shouldn’t give stories of how they are in a powerless situation where they would like to help but their hands are tied. It gives off a negative impression. Encourage agents to create their own hero stories where they are the main character in the story, who gets the job done.


Why you Should use Storytelling in Contact Centers

The reason storytelling is so powerful is that it assists in getting buy-in from both the customers and top executives. After collecting data from various feedback channels like surveys, CSAT, NPS and CES, it is best to deliver the insights in form of stories. Bombarding agents with charts and presentations to show them how to make changes to the customer experience is highly ineffective. Telling a story instead helps the agents to comprehend how they are going to fit changes and improve the customer experience. 

At the same time, the stories that agents collect are supposed to be shared with the team since they are a rich source of data. CX managers ideally should come up with a framework for sharing stories e.g. a roundtable discussion or channels to communicate with top-level management.

Another overlooked advantage of storytelling is that it helps the story-teller to fly under the radar. Stories are so effective since the listener gets to learn a lot without knowing it consciously. Nowadays, a lot of companies are being exposed and ridiculed for their blatant attempts at advertising themselves, especially on social media. 

These range from awkwardly referencing social media trends to tracking website cookies and conspicuously sending tailored adverts based on the viewer’s browsing history. Storytelling is a more covert way of spreading information in an engaging way that makes the customer recognise that certain steps lead to the expected outcome. Customers can also be hesitant to be open and honest when they are asked for feedback about a certain feature or product. But when telling a story about their experience with the new product, they unknowingly offer a sea of valuable and honest information. As highlighted before, stories are also easier to remember and a well told story will leave a lasting impression on the customer.


How to Create Customer Hero's out of Your Agents

Doing this might mean some organizational changes as well as training. Not everyone is a good storyteller but it is a skill that can be taught. A recent study by Microsoft and Nucleus discovered that companies with successful contact centers have designed their organizational structure and leveraged technology to their advantage. As such, the structure can be renovated to accommodate more internal exchange of stories and insights. 

To teach storytelling, one should break down stories into individual parts e.g. the usual details, the customer problem, the business problem, the steps to take, the actions to take and finally the desired outcome. 

It instantly becomes easier to relate an interaction into a story and advise the customer. The agents should weave in their own anecdotes or prior experiences to show empathy, but shouldn’t resign themselves to the victim role. Stories should also stay on topic to avoid diluting the message. Integrating storytelling into call center conversations will make the organization more productive and improve the customer experience as well.