Customer service is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and its success stems from knowing their customer audience. Understanding their needs, wants, and desires, and meeting those needs via call and contact center solutions propels the industry forward.
It’s become increasingly important for individual contact centers to understand their customer audience for many reasons — one of which is the increased power the average customer holds to publicly call out poor customer service on social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and discussion boards.
This increased visibility has prompted many contact centers to take proactive measures to better understand their audience and serve them in the way they want to be served. As a result, customer profiles and personas are now essential to providing insights on the types of technology and interpersonal approaches customers are looking for.
Read on to learn more about customer profiles, how to create them, and how they support the modern call center agent in day-to-day interactions.
What is a customer profile in a call center?
A call center customer profile is much like the buyer personas that marketing and sales professionals use to understand their target audience. They can include key information like age range, income level, life and professional goals, pet peeves, and more. These profiles help expand your call center agents’ knowledge base and equip them with the information they need to effectively manage customer complaints and resolutions.
Customer profiles also include information specific to contact centers, including:
- General customer service expectations.
- Preferred languages.
- Customer service channel preferences.
- Pain points that cause customers the most frustration.
- Conflict resolution style.
- Keywords or phrases customers like or dislike hearing during a customer service interaction.
- The types of issues customers are likely to contact a call center for.
- The outcomes customers expect from a customer service interaction.
Ultimately, a successful call center customer profile provides any and all details around customer expectations surrounding customer service, as well as any concrete information around how, when, and why they will interact with a contact center. Once your call center agents know this information inside out, they will much more prepared to meet inbound inquiries on any channel.
Why use customer profiles for training call center agents?
If you look at the most experienced, successful agents in your contact center, you’ll note that they have developed a distinct ability to handle a particular kind of customer or call. They’re able to quickly discern a customer’s needs, and successfully resolve an issue no matter how challenging it is, or how frustrated a customer appears to be.
This is because those agents know their audience. Over time, your most effective agents have learned through experience every type of customer and complaint, and can move from call to call with greater agility than a new agent who isn’t brushed up on their customer profiles or the host of complex issues that could potentially arise.
If you speed up the learning process for less-experienced agents by providing them with customer profiles, your call center will become a more efficient operation. Some of the ways customer profiles benefit your contact center and its agents include:
- Reducing agent onboarding time.
- Helping seasoned agents become more productive, efficient, and helpful to customers.
- Lowering the number of customers who leave a call center interaction frustrated.
- Minimizing the occurrence of errors or misunderstandings resulting from a less-experienced agent.
- Potentially lowering the number of lost customers, exchanges, and returns.
- A general improvement in your CX metrics, and your agents’ well-being.
How to make customer profiles for the call center
What if you don’t have a handy customer profile on hand? The process of making your first call center customer profile is easier than you think. Simply take the following steps to create a simple one- to two-page profile that covers anything from personal goals to preferred channels:
- Going in, have a rough understanding of your customer’s basic profile traits. You may need to make more than one customer profile depending on how many different customer types your agents are interacting with.
- Reach out to your sales and/or marketing departments. They may already have existing buyer personas on hand, where you can find useful information to repurpose in your own customer profiles.
- Give your persona a name that quickly captures them in a nutshell, and include a stock image to help your agents visualize the caller (for those visual learners out there, this extra step helps).
- Create columns or sections which capture your customer’s main characteristics including traits, work habits, company and industry, education, daily challenges, location, goals, and preferred channels.
- Add in a section dedicated to the communication approaches that agents should leverage for this particular type of customer. Include notes on temperament, comfort levels with technology, politeness, and communications skills so your staff can know the signs to look for when dealing with this type of customer in real-time.
- Over time, make sure to source feedback from your customers and agents, and add any relevant information to your profiles over time. These are living documents that should account for changes in customer sentiment, or their perception of your products or services.
How to use customer profiles to improve call center agent training
Once you have built your customer profile, you can begin distributing it to agents as part of their training (or re-training). At this stage, it is important to get every single agent on board with understanding your various customer types, encouraging them to refer to them early and often. As these customer profiles eventually get put into practice, call center managers will be able to match agent personalities with customer personalities much more easily.
Here are some key ways to integrate customer profiles into your existing agent training plan:
- Make agent feedback a priority. Encourage your front-line staff to offer their insights into the types of customers they face.
- Foster empathy with the customer. Prompt your agents to discuss why some of these customer types might react in a certain way when placing a call into your contact center. During this training, encourage your agents to find ways to personalize their messaging for each profile.
- Act it out. To demonstrate the practical aspect of your customer profiles, write up role-play scripts for each profile and assign to your staff to act out. This is an engaging exercise, and also demonstrates how different customer profiles could play out in real life.
- Make the information universally available. Once your profiles are done and dusted, save them in a place that can be easily accessed by the company. A shared company knowledge base is a great place to keep them. Because this will be a living document, it’s important to keep track of where this document lives to minimize the chances of your employees using outdated information.
While customer profiles are just picking up steam in the modern contact center, they are already proving to be an invaluable resource for training agents and better servicing customers. If you’re on a mission to enhance your onboarding experience, improve your agents’ efficiency, and improve your CSat scores, this is an essential exercise for your business!
Need more intel on contact center training methods? Check out this article on proven training methods to improve call center performance. For more information on common customer types you may encounter in the call center, read our guide, “9 Types of Call Center Customers (and How to Deal with Them).”