As much as call centers bear the brunt of customer service jokes, their necessity and value in facilitating positive customer-business relations are irrefutable. According to recent studies and surveys, consumers still value customer service professionals (CSP) despite the influx of self-service technologies. This shines an interesting light on the argument that ultimately, consumers still enjoy the experiences of quality customer service.
Hence, it is important that call centers hire capable employees with respectable levels of communicative and problem-solving skills. When dealing with a customer’s problem, it goes without saying that it’s expected for the CSP to successfully resolve it. A poll conducted recently showed that over half of consumers experience dissatisfaction during customer service due to inadequacy. Naturally, this leads to frustration on both ends. If CSP woes in call centers happen to apply to you, here are 10 suggestions to improve your working (or workers’) aptitude.
1. Start Early
As the sayings “Old habits die hard” or “You can’t teach a dog new tricks” go, they all point towards grooming and honing an individual’s skills from a very young age. By inculcating good habits, attitude and work ethic early on, you can vastly increase your prospects of assembling a team of competent CSPs much easier.
Many employers often put an over-emphasis on a candidate’s intellect and skill but end up overlooking his/her emotional quotient (EQ). Neglecting the EQ of a candidate is especially detrimental in customer service because a lack of proper human understanding leads to improper judgments and decisions when assisting troubled customers. One’s skill set is useless if unable to appeal to the human psyche. Thus, to say that EQ is more significant than skills is an understatement.
2. Account for Personal Learning
Life is unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to witness many professionals losing their composure in scenarios they’ve not been prepared for. This could be due to outdated training practices or a disconnect in communication between mentors and superiors, etc. Hence, instructing trainees in conjunction with the relevant mentors and superiors are vital in ensuring that they absorb as much experience as possible. After all, no amount of theoretical training can ever prepare an individual for the real world.
3. Multi-Tasking is Key
Being a CSP is nothing short of stressful. It demands quick problem-solving skills and keeping the customer satisfied simultaneously. Engaging with a customer on call while navigating the relevant resources and data materials to resolve the query definitely requires multi-tasking. Honing such skills take considerable time and effort. However, many call center firms have seemed to adopt a more integrated plethora of soft and technical skills to encourage more efficient multitasking skills, albeit not together.
4. Fostering Effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Without getting too technical in detail, CRM essentially refers to the culture of providing the best quality of customer service through capitalizing on resources and approaching customer interaction holistically. It’s an info system scheme that enables CSPs to access necessary customer data and history while simultaneously facilitating effective customer experience on calls. This ties in with the importance of multitasking well in cooperation with good stress management when dealing with data handling and live human interaction.
5. Minimize Hold Times and Abandoned Calls
Nobody enjoys being left on hold: it’s a waste of time by prolonging a customer’s frustrations and worse still if the problem is left unresolved. In turn, this would lead to customer dissatisfaction and poor ratings to your call center’s service. Sometimes, however, it’s a necessary evil when finding the appropriate personnel in handling specific problems.
A general rule of thumb is that customers tend to hang up after being put on hold for about a minute — sometimes, their tolerance is even less. In such cases, it is permissible to allow a call-back option and take down the customers’ phone numbers for the relevant CSPs to follow-up and address a customer’s premature hangup.
6. Technology is Your Friend
Nowadays, contact center technology has shown great potential in improving customer satisfaction and helping organizations to manage costs better. Advanced routing, reporting, data analytics, courtesy callbacks, and data cloud are just among the few forms that improve the overall efficiency of call centers. Call centers have cited that such technology contributes to increasing first call resolution rates, minimizing costs per call, and overall better businesses per agent.
7. On Cloud Nine
On the topic of useful technology, data cloud services have been rising in prominence recently. In fact, a study predicted a 50% increase in call centers utilizing this technology in 2015 to 2016. Not convinced yet? Here are a few of the benefits of choosing to invest in cloud databases:
- Better organization and easy access to all customer data (obviously)
- Operational Expenditure (OPEX) budget feature advises on the most relevant and cost-effective strategies to resolve issues to avoid unnecessary spending on ineffective solutions.
- Quickly adapts features to meet the demands of evolving customer service market
- Facilitates flexible working styles — guaranteed work productivity regardless of location
8. Expectations versus Reality
Many new, fresh-faced employees enter the customer service industry a bit too naive and optimistically. While yes, it is important to maintain a positive outlook when dealing with customers, it’s definitely not always rainbows and sunshine. Expecting a stress-free environment and consistently cooperative customers is a very gullible mindset. More often than not, CSPs are forced to work with strict deadlines and time constraints in addition to frustrated and rude customers. After all, it’s only human to be unhappy about one’s predicament and desperately wish for a solution, although it’s not an excuse for rudeness.
Therefore, it’s fundamental for employers to locate and hire resilient recruits into their company so as to reduce turnover rates of underprepared and overwhelmed trainees. Many novice CSPs end up leaving the job because they find it too demanding. This consequently translates to net losses in both time and resources wasted in their training. It’s a lose-lose situation for you and them. Hence, teach your employees through equipping them with the right frame of mind and attitude to deal with harsh real-world scenarios.
9. Keep it Smooth
Due to the scale of call centers, many of them operate on the basis of multi-channel avenues to streamline their customer interaction process. Various tools and measures are used to fulfill both simple and complex tasks. This is performed through arranging the flow of employees according to their degree of professionalism, skill level, and knowledge, either according to their area of expertise or general aptitude.
Simple tasks can be designated to less experienced professionals or to customers requesting for self-help tools. Conversely, complex tasks will be designated to more experienced professionals. All in all, the main objective of every call center is to provide customer satisfaction by maximizing first call resolution rates. Adopting a streamlined customer service process will, therefore, help every call center to maximize productivity and minimize costs.
10. The Customer is Mostly Right
Last but not least, listen to your customer. A call center provides direct assistance to aid customers in resolving whatever issues they have. In order to improve your overall service, it therefore stands to reason that a customer’s feedback regarding the quality of service provided is crucial in helping you achieve that. Providing a feedback channel via email or an online feedback page or social media forums are useful in hearing the thoughts and sentiments of your customers.
However, there are many occasions of customers taking advantage of the anonymity or indirectness of these platforms to unfairly rant and damage the reputation of one’s company. These are the kinds of feedback to tune out. Instead, focus on the constructive and positive feedback from the more reasonable and level-headed patrons. Use these criticisms to evolve your service provision and elevate your call center to the next level.
Don’t be afraid to constantly pursue greatness, even in the customer service industry. Remember that change is the only constant, hence, no matter how prepared your strategy/measures/protocol might be in dealing with all sorts of customers and issues, they can only prepare you so much. However if your center’s vision and values truly align with the spirit of customer service, you can never go too wrong.