People who deal with customers and clients by telephone may experience aggression and verbal abuse. The Health and Safety Executive’s definition of work-related violence includes verbal abuse and threats as well as physical attacks, and employers have a legal responsibility to reduce the risk of any form of violence to staff.
Verbal abuse (and the fear of abuse) can have a serious impact on an employee’s mental wellbeing and can lead to distress and anxiety, and longer-term stress-related ill health. For employers, the result can be low staff morale, increased turnover of employees, and recruitment difficulties.
On reviewing manys companies abusive caller code of conduct, procedures are quite clear on how an abusive call should be dealt with to meet the customer’s expectations. These document's do not state clearly the “Duty of care” that is offered the agent taking the abusive call.
Face to face customer service suppliers such as Buses, shops, hospitals etc, have adopted a visual system to protect their employees from risk of aggression and verbal abuse. This has been implemented in the form of polite notices placed in public view, generally advising customers that employees deserve to be addressed in a polite respectful manner and their work place should be free from physical and verbal abuse.
My suggestion therefore is that we adapt this system to our service, in order for this to be adapted successfully we could use a verbal approach. As we have an IVR system in order to distribute our calls to the correct departments, we could utilise this system to convey the message.
This obviously will not solve the problem totally. Although I do feel that if the customer is given the opportunity to reflect on the way they intend to deal with the call they may choose a less aggressive or abusive manner.
Get involved –
what can you do to achieve the improvement?
Prepare a choice of IVR scripts, written with the consideration of both the customer and the advisor. Research the current IVR mapping system and have ideas I wish to share regarding the location of the massage.
Should this suggestion the suggestion be implemented. Customer service call colleagues within the business could be given further opportunity to deal with all queries within the customer expectations to a greater professional and efficient standard.
What are the Benefits…?
…To the Customer
- Improved after sales service resulting in better shopping experience.
- Reduced customer stress levels, which in turn results in better communication with call colleagues.
- Reduction in call times
- Gives customer reason to empathise with the call colleagues, which helps the call colleague to relate better towards the customer issue.
…To the Business
- Reduction in call times improving service levels
- Improving call productivity
- First call resolution
- Reduction in stress-related absence
- Further possibility of “saving our customers” that would otherwise have been lost due to customer service failings
- Coincides with the our “Wellbeing Month”
- Happier employees create better products
- Reduced advisor stress levels, which in turn results in better communication with customers
- Improvement to staff morale
- Reduced stress-related illness
- Reduction in call times improving advisors personal statistics
- Happier advisors increases productivity
- Relaxed work environment