Great customer service is like playing the violin

January 22, 2020

Caroline Clyde, Senior Account Manager

In managing customer interactions, SYKES spends a great deal of time making sure that agents speak with the correct “voice.”

This can vary greatly depending on the client, and is different between, say, a smartphone or beauty product brand. Customers expect a sense of familiarity with the brand they’re contacting, and that familiarity is all about managing context and voice.

In a slightly off-beat 2007 example of how familiarity is influential, a busker starts playing his violin in a Washington DC metro station at the height of the morning rush hour, and in the course of 40 minutes makes $52.17 – not a bad return.

1,097 people passed by, but only seven stopped to listen. Most were rushing to work or thinking about the day ahead. When he finished playing, there was no applause.

The busker was Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world, and the event was dreamed up by the Washington Post. Joshua Bell was playing a 1713 Stradivarius worth $3.5 million.

Many of those who passed by would have paid huge sums to hear him play, but in a more familiar context and time of day. In a busy morning metro station, he was largely overlooked.

The same psychology is at work when a customer contacts us.  We need to speak (or write) in a voice that the customer recognises as being authentic to the brand.

It may seem like common sense, but achieving such authenticity comes with many years of experience.

The first step is to really get to know the brand being supported, and to drill down to what they consider to be of greatest importance.

While customer care is what SYKES delivers, this highly affects the customer’s experience of the brand.  Some clients don’t mind if an hour is spent on the phone helping a customer, while others want calls dealt with in a set time.  For them, quality has to be balanced with value for money.

That balance influences how calls are handled, as well as other factors such as the formality or informality with which we talk to customers.

Whether supporting the customers of challenger bank, a digital disruptor or well-established companies such as medical suppliers or global banking groups, a different tone of voice and style of communication is needed. There is no “one size fits all” approach

Always, it’s about balancing empathy with efficiency, and teaching soft skills to every new agent, and then further developing with enhanced training.

Yes, fitting the authentic voice of each client to customer interactions is based on having a real understanding of their corporate values and personality.

SYKES understands the importance those subtle differences that allow us to speak with authenticity on behalf of many different companies. Otherwise, we’d just be like poor Joshua Bell…playing a priceless violin with nobody really listening.

We are, after all, the voice of the client, and their customers must feel that we are reflecting the brand, its values and its personality.

Footnote – in 2014, Joshua Bell returned to the same Washington DC metro station and played for the thousands that came to hear him perform. He was no longer just a busker to be ignored – but now recognised, listened to, and appreciated.

For more information, please get in touch!

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