Preparing Agents to Handle Traumatic Customer Experience Interactions

Customer service is a difficult job. This is especially true when preparing agents who will handle traumatic interactions with customers after a traumatic incident. Not only must they develop their active listening and interpersonal skills, but also recognize the toll it takes on the agents themselves. When dealing with people who are going through harrowing experiences, it is important to have strategies in place to support both the customers and the agents during the process. 

Improvement Delivery Strategies on a National Level

The pandemic has brought to light some very serious flaws in the customer service provided by national programs. The increased call volume has also exacerbated the problems. In an attempt to improve customer care and response time, President Biden is taking actions to “promote fiscal stewardship by improving the Government’s service delivery,” according to this White House press release.

The Executive Order titled Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Deliver to Rebuild Trust in Government aims to do exactly what it says. Biden is enacting measures within federal programs to build greater accountability and transparency for customer experiences. In alignment with the human-centered approach of customer service, he wants to keep people at the center of all Government services.

Biden outlined 37 commitments to improve the customer experience and make people’s lives easier through important phases of life.The framework aims to identify and define which critical services meet expectations, assess and report performance delivery, incorporate feedback, and create a better overall interaction. His primary goals are to modernize programs, utilize online tools and updated technology, and reduce administrative burdens to provide more streamlined solutions.

Training Strategies at the Corporate Level

The customer service issues people experience with government services aren’t isolated to federal programs. Providers across the industry and dealing with the same obstacles. However, each company’s level of success directly reflects on the corporate strategies to provide a better customer experience.

It starts with a strong training program and continues with support whenever questions arise. This could be additional training or coaching sessions so employees can quickly and efficiently navigate systems or maintain an open-door policy for more complex or sensitive problems. 

No matter who you are dealing with, a company committed to their people must understand the importance of empathy. For agents, this generally focuses on their conversations with the customers. However, the management team must also realize the negative psychological impact when dealing with callers in traumatic situations. It can be emotionally and physically draining for the agent to deal with these situations. But, simple processes and policies make their job easier. When creating your corporate strategy for preparing agents to handle traumatic customer interactions, find ways to alleviate the emotional stress. This could mean more breaks when necessary and less rigidness with the time they take with callers.Sometimes agents need recovery time as well to process the situation and enable themselves to continue helping customers.

Preparing Agents on a Personal Level

The quality of your customer service comes down to how well you have trained your agents to handle the unexpected.You never know who will call or what problem has to be solved. But, it is important to show empathy and compassion whenever possible.

On a personal level, agents must remember that each caller is someone who is going through something traumatic. They are real people facing real problems, not just another case number. Ensuring they don’t have to repeat themselves and carrying them through the situations make people feel heard and cared for. It also shortens the entire process when agents help people cut through the red tape and navigate complex systems.

On the other hand, agents must also recognize when they are reaching their limits. One of the most difficult aspects of customer service is receiving and diffusing misdirected feelings. It’s easy to forget that their frustration and anger is with the situation, not with you. You can validate their views by relating them to your personal experiences. However, agents must also know their boundaries and speak up when people toe the line of verbal abuse.

Handling traumatic interactions takes a heavy toll. However, taking the time for self-care allows agents to cope with the situation. Helping employees to be at their best ensures that they can better perform their jobs and meet customers’ expectations.

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