Creating connection in conversation – The art of conversation: Part Two

In the second of our blog series on the art of conversation, Helen Beaumont Manahan, Head of Training and Development, looks at the importance of creating connection in conversation during the daily operation of the contact centre.

Conversation and connection are closely connected. As humans, connection is a vital need for all of us to feel happy, fulfilled and secure. Nowhere is the skill of conversation more important than in our contact centres. But, if you work in the contact centre industry, when was the last time you really stopped to consider the term? Contact.

A connection is fundamentally what customers are seeking when they contact a business. So, how do we maximise connection with our customers when our time is increasingly caught up in screens?

All of us are constantly ‘on’. But we’re often transmitting in a way and at a speed that precludes being able to really talk at any depth. We are limited in our ability to listen, reflect and share what matters. Then, it’s the art of conversation which really takes the hit. In many areas of life, it’s fair to say that we are moving to transactional over conversational interaction.

Things are changing – so what?

Well, here’s the thing. We know that holding good conversations with customers is tricky to achieve. But we also know that businesses who consistently get this right reap the benefits. They gain engaged and energised customers who are even inspired to brand advocacy.

We now inhabit a shiny modern world of high-speed internet, soundbites, fragmented attention spans and scrolling newsfeeds. We, our children, and practically every one of our customers has a smartphone in their pocket. The use of chatbots and self-serve is rising. So, it’s potentially easy to believe that conversational competence – the art of holding a really good conversation – is either dead, or almost certainly dying.

Conversational skills are something either never or rarely taught in schools. With the decline of the family dinner and the rise of personal screen time, uptake of these skills is also potentially missing in many homes. Small wonder then that new agents joining the workforce can often struggle with core emotional intelligence competencies, like empathy. Today, the art of good, personalised and effective conversation can seem unachievable. In fact, it is almost mystical. Conversely, we’re all getting faster and more competent in our ability to tap out replies or dictate them to our devices at impressive speed.

The perfect match

All of this is where BPA Quality excel. For more than 30 years, our world has been contact centres and creating connection in conversation. We have been listening to millions of customers. They have experienced a multitude of issues and laugh, vent, bark orders, plead, express gratitude or even cry. We’ve gained a deep understanding of precisely why, how, when and what agents can do to foster, shape and steer conversations and get the best possible outcomes for those customers.  For us, ‘the Human Element’ is not just a soundbite but a philosophy which we live and breathe in our consultancy, our partnerships, our training – and for good reason.

William E Vaughn wrote, “To err is human. To really foul things up requires a computer.” It’s a pithy phrase, but still holds a truism. Even in our digital age, when things go wrong, we seek out the Human Element in our quest to put things right. Someone to empathise with us, relate to us and to validate our concerns, before reassuring us of a solution and finally providing it. The value of upskilling ourselves and our teams in the art of conversation and making that all-important connection is something close to a superpower for the 21stCentury. Can you afford to miss out?

In the final part of our three-part series on the art of conversation, we will look at the role of coaching in achieving successful conversation in the contact centre. Have a look at our services to see how we could help or contact us to find out more.