Speaking your customer’s language: skill-based dialogue practice

Andy Dovgan's picture

Customer experience (or CX) is on the lime light. Companies are seeking for exceptional strategies and technologies to leverage client-centric initiatives and improve service delivery.

Nowadays companies really want to speak the same language with their clients realizing all benefits of that. So what does “speaking your customer’s language” actually mean? In general it means to stay connected and develop trust-based relations bearing in mind the information about an exact customer and adapting your dialogue according to the customer’s particular qualities. In other words it means to have clear and coherent methodology and technology to recognize and capture all necessary ad-hoc data about a client (needs, values, interests, habits, preferences etc) and “tune” service processes, tools and interactions according to this knowledge.

For this purpose ‘humanized’ and spontaneous dialogues become acceptable and expected - both businesses and customers are tired of script-based and robot-like communications.

Nevertheless there is a conflict between regulations/recommendations/scripts from one hand and spontaneous and non-directive communication with a customer on another. Providing total freedom for agents/service engineers will cause a risk of increased price, loss in quality and facing all human factor caused challenges. While continuing to work according to strictly standardized model can often hamper good service.

So how do we balance between adaptive service scenarios and standardized management model? That is where skill-based dialogue practice could help.

The main idea of skill based dialogue and process is to identify differences in skills of your customers and group them using this criteria. Developing different tools and processes to service different customer groups will improve customer experience and general business KPIs. This approach could be more suitable for companies which sell complex solutions (products or services) that require additional knowledge and skills for using them (telecommunications, finance, equipment supply, software development – this are just a few examples). Approach could be used in B2B as well as in B2C areas.

Let me explain the steps:

  1. Skills matter

    Of course you customers have different background, history of interactions with you. Some of them know almost everything about your products/services and some of them are just newcomers with lots of questions and misunderstandings.

    Taking into account these differences you might want to form several (3 to 5) groups using simple criteria — skills of working with your products/services. According to our experience less than 3 groups could be not enough for personalization and 6 is too much for the first.

    As a very simple example, you could form the groups of:

    • A – Experts
    • B – Advanced users
    • C – Average users
    • D – Beginners
    • E – Newcomers

  2. Identify skills of a customer to assign the relevant group

    After you have specified the list of groups it’s time to indentify the skills of each contact to assign a customer to the group.

    The simplest method to shed light on the knowledge level and experience of a contact is to ask specific questions during/after the incident resolution (you might want to provide your service engineers with clear questions and criteria for each group). Alternatively you could analyse the incidents registered by the customer, the nature of the questions he/she posed and make the conclusion about the skills of the contact or use more complicated data knowledge discovery strategies.

  3. Customize processes according to skills and knowledge level

    If you want to increase the value of your own organization or those that you service then you must adapt the style of your communications for each of the customer groups.

    In particular within the scope of the same process (i.e. incident management or service request management process) you must introduce different communication templates and different relevant tips for an agent.

    Here is the list of tools which could be adapted:

    • Knowledge base articles (including the ones available in your Self-Service Portal)
    • Self-Service Interfaces and terms
    • Templates for emails/text messages
    • Conversation hints

    For instance if a customer belongs to Experts group, an email for him/her will be written in technical language, without unnecessary details. While an email for a Newcomer will be more detailed, devoid of complex technical terms, providing specific instructions.

    Moreover you could engage Experts and Advanced users to help using crowdsourcing strategies and community platforms.

  4. Execute and streamline processes

    When different templates that we created for each of the group are united in a single process we shall execute and monitor the process.

    Once a new process is introduced you can then measure the impact on outcomes. Scrutinizing the results of the process, the speed of its execution and the outcomes you can modify the process to best meet your business objectives and exceed customer’s expectations.

Automate it!

For skill-based dialogue practice to have a meaningful impact on improving your services, you need to live and breathe it. While your CRM or Service Management application stores complete customer data the merger of this technology with BPM engine enables your business to optimize processes by using specific customer data and taking into account individual factors.

That ensures both that business objectives are met and the customer experience from the interaction with the company is positive and remarkable.

Comments

A lovely soft piece that makes for easy reading and a lot of good old fashion common sense! I particularly like the way this blog has discussed the fact that skill does indeed matter. As a trainer of Strategic Selling this makes perfect sense to me.

I also like the idea of categorizing customers into groups, A – Experts, B – Advanced users, C – Average users, D – Beginners, E – Newcomers. This is something that I do in my sales training and delegates have always found it to be most enlightening!
Trisha Proud
Author of Soulmate
Managing Partners - Partners in Solutions Ltd

Trisha thank you for sharing the insights. It's great to know that you use the same approach in your practice and your sales training. Great to have this feedback from you!