Humanizing Customer Service for the Post-COVID Consumer

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Contact center interactions reveal that callers these days are under a lot of strain. Worry about losing their homes, losing their jobs, and losing loved ones, combined with the stress of a prolonged pandemic, have exacerbated feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness for many.

Now, more than ever, consumers need human connection. They want to hang up not just having their issue resolved but also knowing the voice on the other end of the line, across the desk or behind the keyboard is a real human being who understands them.

Empathy in customer service

What, then, does empathy mean for customer service? It starts with recognizing the humanity in the person standing across from you, or on the other end of the phone line, and putting yourself in their shoes. As a result, the interaction successfully ends with the customer feeling fully understood.

What empathy in customer service has taught us

Organizations that successfully deliver positive customer experiences hire and train around empathy and personalizing every consumer interaction.

Why it matters

Emotional connections drive business results. Customers who are emotionally attached to your brand are 39 percent more likely to sign up for new services, 49 percent more likely to increase balances, and 32 percent more likely to obtain financial advice.

Creating the fully connected service experience

For most institutions, the contact center becomes the escalation point; more complex queries often end up on the phone with a live agent. If the customer experience is handled well, you will have created an advocate for your institution who will share their positive experience with others.

What empathy in customer service has taught us

Achieving a superior customer experience relies heavily on your ability to deliver customers human support — seamlessly — alongside other channels of their choice.

Why it matters

You re-earn your customer’s business at every interaction and are only as good as your last contact.

The changing role of customer service

Calls to the contact center are now more complex and emotionally charged. Customers choose the phone because they expect personalized answers to their problems. Soft skills have always been important, but equally important are critical thinking skills and being mentally nimble.

What empathy has taught us

Be prepared for an increase in demand for online and mobile banking assistance. Your contact center agents must be digital advocates and digital experts.

Why it matters

During difficult times, even minor situations carry a much heavier weight. If your organization is not prepared to provide a winning customer experience, even under these extraordinary circumstances, you’ll drive your most important customers to the competition.

While technology and innovation have transformed how consumers and companies interact, one truth remains: consumers need human interaction. To truly drive emotional engagement with customers, institutions will need to balance digitalization with highly personalized human connection.



Terri Panhans is Vice President, Contact Center Solutions for Harland Clarke where she is focused on delighting clients and their account holders through enriched and meaningful engagements with each and every contact.