January 22, 2006 09:23 AM
Why should we care about the emotional contagion that I defined in a previous blog entry? So what if customers unconsciously "catch" the agent's emotion? All of us remember at least one interaction with a service agent during which we wondered if he or she shouldn't go home and get out on the "right" side of the bed this time. But, did we stop doing business with the company because of that interaction? Probably not.
Research says that customers who are in a more positive emotional state rate the service quality of an organization higher. So, one depressing interaction may not affect a customer's loyalty, but what if he or she experiences multiple "downers?" Each time our agents fail to communicate a positive emotion to the customer, that customer is likely to rate our service quality a little lower. Add all these customer interactions and evaluative judgments together and we are likely to see a lowering of our overall service quality score.
I can't help but think that, over time, this is going to have financial implications.
I figure if we can affect how a customer rates our service quality by training our agents to communicate positively, then it is well worth our effort. Remember, I'm not talking about a simple "smile" reminder. I would like to see quality material that teaches our agents precisely how to express positive emotions through their facial expressions, voices, gestures, and body movements.
I'd be interested to know how many call centers now have this type of curriculum available for their agents. When I was working as a phone agent we most certainly didn't!