Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One of the first principles of persuasion is reciprocity. " People are obliged to give back to others the form of behavior, gift, or service they have received first." 

"The key to using the principal of reciprocation is to be the first to give and to ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected."

Inadequate reciprocity produces low customer service ratings.

The end of year holidays that we just experienced, are a prime example of the principle of reciprocity. We want to give equal to or better than we receive. This is why it's so hard to stay in budget with Secret Santa gifts.

Initial Reciprocity Debt

Think about the experience that callers have in finding your phone number, navigating through a maze of voice response options, waiting on queue, and then all the information they must give before they get the authorization to speak with a sales or customer service agent. 

It creates a huge reciprocity debt, one which engenders reticence at the very beginning of an interaction. Typically callers get little or nothing in return for their investment.

Reduce the Debt

This debt can be offset somewhat by increasing the information provided by the answering agent. 

For example, during the greeting, in addition to their names, agents might also provide: agent id, department, position (senior agent, manager, supervisor), length of service, etc. Greetings should be always be delivered with intention, otherwise the have no reciprocal value.

During calls with customers, agents should also acknowledge the relationship. The acknowledgment might include the length of service, types of services or products provided, any existing promotions or discounts in effect, pending changes, etc. Just stating the nature of the existing relationship helps to reduce the reciprocation debt.

An upfront, sincere, promise of assistance and quick resolution also helps to reduce the debt. Some unexpected gift to the caller in consideration of their patience, also helps to create a reciprocity balance. These might include a free service trial, a small reduction in charges, an temporary upgrade to premium service levels, etc.

The Gift of Improved Access

Another trend in forward thinking companies is reducing their debt by 'gifting' customers with priority or immediate access to services. e.g. Ally Bank, Discover, Southwest Airlines, etc. In commercials, Ally Banks highlights its direct-line to human customer service. Airlines offer priority boarding, waived bagage fees or seat upgrades as reciprocity 'gifts'.

The Gift of Intelligence

Call Intelligence Inc specializes in transactional analytics and intelligence. We have over 23 years of experience working on projects for the public and private sectors. We study voice interactions to determine which transactional structures, techniques, and tactics work best.