If you’re just checking in now, Parts 1 and 2 of this series explore specific areas where contact center managers can embrace openness and honesty with customers and employees. Companies looking to foster a culture of transparency and trust, however, cannot overlook the most important area of business they must be honest about: finances.
Imagine this: You sign on for a new data plan with your carrier and have walked through every cost associated with upgrading; you’re adding a new line, you’re increasing your amount of monthly data, etc. You understand the new changes and leave the store feeling good about your investment—until a bill arrives the next month for $50 more than you agreed to. The reason? Surcharges, which were conveniently left out of the conversation.
These kinds of fees plague customers across every vertical. Consider, for example, that some airlines charge customers a one-time reservation fee when booking flights online. Hotels may charge you a fee for checking into your room too early. In 2013 alone, hotels raked in an estimated $2.1 billion in fees, according to New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.
Now, imagine instead walking into a place of business and being informed with complete transparency about all costs and fees you can expect. For instance, imagine being told that when you sign up for that new gym membership, you’re going to get charged a $40 annual fee two months later. Imagine not having to be surprised when you discover that there is a recurring monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain a certain balance in your savings account. Imagine how much easier life would be if the businesses we depend on embraced cost transparency.
It’s not hard to understand the benefits of cost transparency. Businesses that are truthful with customers about finances can transform customer retention and loyalty; brand credibility; and, contrary to popular belief, repeat spending.
The contact center is the first place many customers turn to for answers regarding costs, fees and charges. Here are a few ways managers can promote cost transparency within their facilities:
Enhance your scripts: Ensure the verbiage your agents use promotes full transparency of any and all costs, fees and charges. When customers have cost-related questions, ensure agents use language that is straightforward and easy to understand. The time to ban cryptic language from scripts is long overdue.
Email transcripts of conversations to customers: To ensure customers don’t miss anything that was verbally communicated to them, include a transcript of their conversation when following up with them via email. Consider implementing software that enables you to easily send transcripts regardless of the communication channel being used (i.e. live chat, phone, video).
Don’t force upselling or cross-selling: Being honest about costs means being honest with yourself about what is relevant to your customers. Managers should continually coach agents on upselling and cross-selling best practices by creating customized training documents that can be sent straight to agents’ desks during downtime. They can also quickly pass along resources in real-time that they think may be helpful for agents, like a Web link or video they stumbled across.
Offer new opportunities vs. added costs: Costs can be a good or bad thing depending on how customers perceive them. Being open about costs encourages customers to have a more positive mindset about your products and services and how they can lead to new opportunities. Cost transparency allows companies to effectively communicate their value proposition, verses having customers’ eyes glaze over once they begin imagining more dollar signs.
At the end of the day, customers understand that businesses have upfront costs; all they’re asking is that businesses be upfront about them.