Persuasion is one of the most creative ways for a customer service representative to deliver an optimal experience to consumers. Persuasion isn’t manipulation, rather it’s an effective way to positively influence and retain customers through engagement, connection, and creative problem-solving.
When executed effectively, consumers don’t even realize they are being convinced to buy a product or service or to continue returning to a particular company or brand. Persuasion, in its most sophisticated form, is subtle, swift, and a highly effective tool for every call center or customer service department to implement. Here’s how to use persuasion to deliver exceptional customer service.
Reciprocity: You Give Some, You Get Some
In 1984, renowned psychologist and researcher, Dr. Robert Cialdini, wrote the best-selling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The ideas outlined in this book revolutionized not only the way researchers approached the study of personal relationships and interactions, but also how business leaders converted sales and retained customers.
One of the six principles of persuasion uncovered through Dr. Cialdini’s work was that of reciprocity, the idea that humans are hardwired to want to return favors and pay each other back. In fact, most people likely grew up learning about “The Golden Rule”, treat others how you would want to be treated.
When it comes to applying this principle to customer service, the idea is simple. Customer service reps who go over and above in finding a solution to the customer’s problem, or offer an alluring discount or special offer, are far more likely to capture the loyalty of a customer from their need to be reciprocal. By going the extra mile, customer service or sales departments build rapport with that particular customer. This isn’t a disingenuous exchange – there isn’t any manipulation or dishonesty involved, just natural psychological needs to return a favor, regardless of the context.
A great service that call center representatives and companies can offer their customers to engage their reciprocity is to have a call-back option in their customer service call queue. Customers will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to wait on hold to have their concern addressed. This will heighten their desire to remain loyal to the company, and even tell their friends and family about it!
Social Proof: “I’ll Have What She’s Having”
The infamous restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally perfectly illustrates the powerful effect of social proof, no matter how crazy the behavior may be! Social proof, as defined by Dr. Cialdini, is when people do what they see other people doing. Essentially, “monkey see, monkey do”. This principle is an evolved protective mechanism – safety in numbers.
In the realm of business and customer service, call center representatives can actually use this principle to their advantage by making sure they are informing the individual of what other customers are doing or have done. For example, when inquiring if the customer wants to purchase a 20-year warranty, an upsell, on their new kitchen appliance, the agent could inform them of the percentage of buyers that opt-in for that option. Or, perhaps outline a negative story of when a customer didn’t have the warranty, and why this particular customer should avoid a similar negative situation. Social proof can work either way, to persuade a consumer to follow others in the direction you’d like them to go, or to avoid certain situations.
Likability: We Buy From People We Like
Aside from all other facets of personality and human perception, likeability is the strongest determinant of whether or not you lock in a sale, re-up a contract, or get that customer referral. As described in Dr. Cialdini’s book, likeability is meaningful because it affects the likelihood of us being influenced. It’s often most closely based on sharing something similar with a person, or feeling a deep sense of connection or relatability with a brand. When it comes to people, and sometimes even companies, this is usually related to something superficial, like how attractive a person is.
Customer service representatives and companies can employ the tactic of likeability by ensuring they are using relatable language, a conversational and light tone over the phone, and making meaningful eye contact and non-verbal communication cues in-person. For companies, likeability can mean having an approachable brand identity, advertising that showcases people enjoying using their products, and having price points that are reasonable and attainable for their target market.
The best, most effective acts of persuasion are so good they go unnoticed. Dr. Cialdini’s principles of persuasion will have your call center influencing customers and delivering exceptional service quickly and seamlessly.