I read a couple of articles this morning that got me to thinking about the nature of the Customer Management Representative position. I'm going to suggest that the CMR has one of the most difficult positions at the interaction center. The two articles I read this morning re-enforce my position.
First, CMR's on outreach campaigns are often trying to make presentations to skeptical consumers. Meanwhile, customer care CMR's may be dealing with an irate customer. Both situations mean you are starting the interaction with a trust deficit. On outreach campaigns, the consumer hears the phone, makes the choice to answer and is often skeptical of it being a sales call. Out of politeness or curiosity they choose to listen for a few seconds (30 if you are lucky) all the while waiting for an opportune moment to interrupt, refuse and hang up. Sound familiar? Jack Malcomn over at CustomerThink wrote an article, Get Their Attention, Part 2, Dealing with a Skeptical Audience with a few helpful hints to dealing with skeptical audiences. Several of his tips are great, although the first suggestion of leveling the playing field using humor, might not work in telephone sales. Imagine the audience, Malcomn states:
Consider the audience’s state of mind as they’re waiting for you to begin. They already hold a point of view on the topic, that is opposed to yours. Because of confirmation bias and identity, they will have a strong tendency to ignore or actively oppose information that contradicts their beliefs, so the natural reaction against someone who states an opposing idea right up front is to shut down their attention, or to listen only with the intent to refute. That’s not a good place for your audience to be when you are speaking to them. The result is not a dialogue, but two competing monologues, the one you are delivering and the one in their heads which is arguing against yours.
Portrait of smiling negotiator with glasses and headset
On top of the skeptical consumer, you have between 10 and 30 seconds of time to convince someone to listen to you. I'm certain I couldn't do it! And once you convince the consumer to hear you out you've got to appeal to their sensibilities with your fantastic offer? Ronald Rogowski over at Forrester points out that the Customer Experience is Emotional. So the CMR has an average of 15 seconds to convince their consumer to listen to their offer and maybe another 15 to make an emotional connection ( read 'need/want') for their offer.
Although I know I could never master this skill, our CMR's have majored in mastering those first 15 seconds so a positive connection is made and the skepticism deficit can be eliminated quickly. We continue to refine that process and replace any of the outdated tactics that do not lend themselves to a pleasant customer experience. If you would like to learn more, contact us.