Train staff to deal with Ms/Mr Angry, says futurologist


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Employers are not equipping their staff to deal with the rise of increasingly demanding customers they are creating, according to Nicola Millard, customer experience futurologist at BT.

Speaking in London yesterday to service professionals at the Institute of Customer Service conference, Millard said companies are to blame for producing a breed of 'monster customers' they then can't handle.

"Firms ask their customers to do more of the legwork for them - working out if they are providing the best deals, asking them to fill in forms, provide details etc," she said. "It means when customers have contact with front-line, customer-facing staff, they are at a point of distress."

Millard added: "By the time customers interact with a business, 56% of them say their contact is of a highly emotive or complex nature which they say their staff are not able to deal with," citing BT's 'Autonomous Customer' research conducted among its own consumers in January.

"Complexity is hitting the frontline," Millard said. "But companies are still using the same conveyor belt of 'call waiting' technology and call-time resolutions. Angry customers destroy call resolution targets, but the problem is, firms can't tell who these angry customers are until they answer them."

According to the Autonomous Customer research, 60% of consumers say they will continually switch channels until they find one that satisfies their query and Millard says firms must invest more, in web-chat customer service interaction, for example, to meet this behaviour.

"Employers need to equip frontline staff to manage more complicated interactions," she said. "But, if they do this, they must also realise that staff who might be great at talking to customers on the phone are not necessarily good at web-based, written-word interaction." Get it right, though, and the rewards are there, she said: "Our survey found 86% of people said that having a good contact centre experience would positively impact on their brand loyalty."


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