(This is a guest post from Ines van Dijk, Interaction Quality Specialist with Quality in Support)
Having a good conversation is a fundamental part of human interaction. It allows us to connect with each other, share ideas, and build relationships. Within the Customer Support world, constructing a good conversation is vital for agents and the company’s well-being. But how do you know if a conversation is truly ‘good’?
You will get ten different answers if you ask ten different people this exact question. What works for one person will certainly not work for another. That difference becomes even more significant when these ten people have diverse cultural backgrounds. You can see how quantifying the quality of any given chat can be rather tricky – there are many moving parts, and no one easy answer. Fortunately, there are frameworks and tools such as Loris to help you work out what this looks like for your business.
Conversations can be viewed as a Lego set: there are different ‘bricks’ that you can use to construct the kind of conversation you want to have. When assessing conversations your agents are having, it is essential that you are aware of these building blocks. They need to fit both your company’s ethos and style guide, as well as resonate with your customers. Most people can name a few of these blocks from the top of their heads: empathy, tone, and providing correct information. These are top-level indicators that lay above the actual mechanics of a good conversation. You want to look for what actually makes the proverbial machine tick.
Active listening is the most significant indicator of quality.
An agent who is present in the conversation and can see the questions behind the questions being asked will often excel at their job. It allows them to do the following:
- Make the customer feel heard.
- Demonstrate that the problem is taken seriously.
- Prevent conflict.
- Resolve conflict when it does arise.
- Resolve the issue faster.
When you are looking for whether an agent is capable of active listening, there are a few characterizing elements that help you spot their skill level.
This is an excellent way to demonstrate that you are present in the conversation. When we talk face-to-face, the way we show attentiveness is usually done in a non-verbal way, through body language. We nod, hum, and maintain eye contact. In written communication, we can achieve attentiveness by using short affirmations.
Examples of these short affirmations can be:
- “I understand.”
- “Oh! I see.”
- “Yes, I agree.”
Remembering shared information
This is another excellent way of showing attentiveness. It makes the other person in the conversation feel seen and heard, which in turn fosters a feeling of safety.
- “At the beginning of this conversation, you mentioned…”
- “When you spoke to us previously, you said…”
- “I remember you saying…”
Paraphrasing is a great way of demonstrating that you have understood what the other person is trying to tell you. Repeating a person’s question back to them in a different set of words shows how well you’ve captured the information. Paraphrasing can look like:
- “What I’m hearing you say is…”
- “If I understand you correctly, you are trying to do…”
- “When you said…, did you mean…?”
This is also an excellent stalling tactic when more time is needed to resolve the customer’s problem. While the customer is busy confirming or denying the paraphrase, the agent can find the answer without appearing to be away from the conversation.
Asking open-ended questions
This allows the customer to elaborate on their entire perspective. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with either “yes” or “no”; they require more thought and information to be answered.
- “I’m curious about…”
- “Tell me about how this is affecting your business.”
- “Why did you do… instead of …?”
Asking probing questions
This is a step beyond asking open-ended questions. A conversation in which you only respond to the exact information a customer is presenting you with likely results in not understanding the full scope of the problem.
- “When you do…, what are you trying to achieve?”
- “When you click…, can you tell me what you see?”
- “You said…, can you give me an example?”
Probing questions will not only show you whether you have understood the question or problem accurately. It will also force the customer to think critically. Quite often, asking probing questions will help them help themselves.
Assessing whether a conversation is ‘good’ will involve more than relying on your personal feelings.
An individual scoring an interaction between two people will always have some form of bias. It might be brought on by your upbringing, current social environment, or a firmly held belief. To have bias is to be human, and it slips in, especially when we are in charge of checking the work of others. Our innate bias prevents us from being objective, so having factual and objective data points does a better job of assessing quality.
Getting that information can be tricky, however. Typically, a Quality Assessment program relies on a human to go through a statistically relevant data set, review all conversations, and pull out the bits of information that enable a CX department to implement changes. It undoubtedly leads to decision-making fatigue, causing the quality of the analysis to go down. Even so, a human touch is needed to decipher all the intricacies of how we talk to each other.
By using Loris to take on the brunt of the investigative work, you negate bias and subjectivity. It acts as a research assistant, handing you the trends, gaps, and needs that are most relevant to your team. It’s the perfect blend between a software’s objective observation and the possibility of human intervention where it matters most. In the end, having a good conversation relies on both skill (on the agent’s part) and understanding (on the part of the QA specialist).
Interested in trying out how Loris can help your team have better conversations? Click here to connect with our team.