Contact Center Purchase Intent Drivers: Empathy & Competence

Historically, bank contact centers have served primarily as service hubs, serving customers who call for information or are seeking assistance dealing with a problem in need of resolution.  As banks continue to transition into an omni-channel model where customers can interact with the institution across a broad spectrum of channels, the contact center is transitioning into a sales hub, where customers who have researched a product online may still want to speak with a person prior to completing the purchase.  As a result, contact center agents will require a new set of sales skills.

To help understand some of the new skill sets required of contact center agents as they transition from a service to sales role, Kinesis conducted mystery shops of six institutions with national scope to identify what customer experience attributes will yield the most ROI in supporting this sales role.

Our conclusion is customers want empathy and competence.  They want agents who both care about their needs and can satisfy those needs.

Kinesis performed an analysis of purchase intent to identify the attributes with the most potential for ROI in supporting a sales role.  We asked shoppers to rate the experience across a spectrum of service attributes on a 5-point scale where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent; as well assigning a purchase intent rating on a similar 5-point scale.  We then cross tabulated the results by purchase intent to identify which attributes have the largest gap between shops which reported positive purchase intent and those which reported negative purchase intent.

Mean Attribute Ratings By Purchase Intent

Confidence in the Agent, valuing as a customer, interest in helping and explain the products in understandable terms are the four attributes with largest gaps between shops with positive purchase intent and negative, followed by professionalism and job knowledge. Friendliness/courtesy was the attribute with the smallest gap.  While friendliness is important, when it comes to driving purchase intent, the attributes with the largest gaps are those related to care and competence.  Customers want agents who care about their needs, and are capable of delivering on those needs.


In a following post we will look at the relationship of specific sales and service behaviors to purchase intent.

Click here for a cross-tabulation of the raw data by purchase intent.


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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at:

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