How to Prevent Unconscious Bias from Affecting Customer Care

Customer Care

Is unconscious bias affecting the quality of customer care in your company? The good news is, you can overcome the problem with diversity initiatives.

Unconscious bias not only affects the treatment of employees but it also impacts customer service. To mitigate bias in customer care the first step is to first pinpoint the areas where it occurs and decide on effective ways to respond to it.

Discrimination in Customer Care

Discrimination is not always obvious. But whether it’s overt or subtle, the results can be just as damaging. With new customer bases emerging, every organization needs to pay serious attention to how they interact with customers from different backgrounds and demographics. Not only is this crucial from a moral point of view, but it’s also key to business success.

Unconscious bias awareness training helps employees become aware of the existence of a whole range of biases.

Contrary to what we may think, subtle discrimination in customer care is widespread. It happens in elusive ways that are hard to detect, let alone address and resolve. There is a strong need for companies to implement consistent training and awareness programs for their employees.

How to Mitigate Bias in Customer Care

Very often, diverse customers receive poor service in ways that are not immediately discernible. If you are serious about gaining a competitive advantage and driving up profits, your company needs to take a closer look at your customer service standards.

Do your frontline employees treat all customers with equal courtesy and respect? Does skin color, culture, or ethnicity play a subconscious role in day-to-day interactions? Hundreds of verbal, written, physical, and telephonic interactions occur every day between employees and customers.

 In most cases, managers may not even be aware of subtle instances of disrespect, bias or discrimination. Organizations can start addressing the issue by conducting robust, result-oriented audits that help highlight issues relating to bias. Internal audits are effective strategies that help identify hidden problems and pain points.

Many companies conduct typical internal audits. However, a reliable audit should be customised to your industry, company values, business plans, and customer touchpoints.   You can engage outside organizations to call your customer service representatives to evaluate any bias in communication.

These steps will help elicit honest feedback about any unconscious biases that exist in customer services. Unconscious bias training can help highlight hidden assumptions.

The following strategies help mitigate bias in customer care.

Map Customer-Employee Interactions

First, identify the entire range of customer touchpoints, including online chats, telephone interactions, email response and direct customer handling. Examine all the different ways in which your employees engage with customers and identify lapses. Evaluate tone of voice, choice of words, non-verbal cues (in case of direct customer handling) and response time.

An in-depth audit will help leaders understand if certain customer groups get unintentionally alienated.

Identify Diverse Customer Groups

Ask questions regarding your customer base. Who are your primary customers? Are there minority groups who deal with/potentially deal with your company? How should your employees communicate with them? Are your employees trained to offer exceptional customer services to these diverse groups?

Clearly Define the Behaviours That You Are Assessing

What are the behaviors that you want to assess? Define them clearly. For instance, you may wish to evaluate phrases and words commonly used in interactions, responses and communication styles of frontline staff and body language.