So you want to equip your contact center agents to deliver better customer service in 2014. A flexible, easy-to-use CRM system is key, but in the end, top-notch people skills can make all the difference. If you're in charge of your company's call center, or perhaps you're on the front lines yourself, where do you begin?
As they say, the strength is in the fundamentals, like service with a smile, active listening, and of course, treating the customer as king. Check out our top ten tips for customer service strategies to help call center agents boost sales and drive customer satisfaction. And when you're done, we welcome you to share your own tips as well.
1. Start with a Smile
Did you know that your voice sounds different when you smile? You sound friendlier and more engaging. Beyond being courteous, professional and respectful, contact center agents who smile on the job come across with more warmth and breed more trust with customers.
2. Listen Before You Speak
Staffing the customer service desk, contact center agents may think they hear the same complaints or requests all day every day. It's easy enough to make assumptions about what the customer is asking. Don't make that mistake. Failing to listen to the customer can be a fatal flaw. Listen and listen closely, clarify the customer question or complaint, repeat the concern back to them, then work on solving it.
3. Know Your Stuff
Few things are more annoying to customers than a contact center agent who doesn't know their products and services well enough. Or a service rep who gives pat answers that the customer could have simply read on the Web site. Or, worse, a rep who gives wrong information. Make sure your contact center agents know the answers to frequently asked questions and not-so-frequently-asked questions alike. And equip them to find the answer quickly if they don't know it by heart.
4. Balance Speed with Consistency
Customers don't like to be placed on hold, but they don't want bad information either. The contact center agent's job is to provide a consistent customer service experience that meets the needs of every caller as efficiently as possible. That demands a searchable database that allows contact center agents to find the information they need quickly.
5. Avoid Voice Jail at All Cost
Automated call systems can drive efficiency, but can be frustrating for callers -- and can cost your company dearly if callers hang up before reaching the right person. Always make it easy for callers to reach a rep without having to navigate through endless or confusing menus.
6. Offer the Ability to Call Back
One of the most frustrating experiences for customers is to explain their problem in great detail, come super close to a resolution and then suddenly get disconnected before the deal is sealed. At the beginning of the call, always ask for a number so you can call the customer back if disconnected. Most call centers don't do this, but all of them should.
7. Make Every Call Your Best Call
Remember that even though the current call might be your 100th call of the day, it's probably that caller's first call of the day to your company and it's the one they'll remember. So, again, put on that smile and give every customer your best effort. It really will pay off in the end.
8. Take a Breather
Breaks are always a good idea, and that's never more true than during the holidays and other peak seasons. Let's face it, manning the phones can wear out even the most experienced reps. Managers need to schedule frequent rest and stretch breaks. And, of course, keep eyes and ears out for reps who may need a bit more time to regroup on the most hectic days.
9. Always Offer an Upsell
Fast food businesses know the benefit of always offering a bit more (would you like fries and a drink with your burger?) Amazon and many other e-commerce sites have also mastered the art of offering companion products. Knowing how to offer companion products, extended warranties, and the like can easily boost sales -- especially when offered in a helpful, no-pressure way.
10. Skip the Survey
Yes, surveys at the end of sales and service calls are all the rage. But, they're getting to be a bit much. If company management feels you absolutely have to have a survey at the end of the call, be sure it's easy for customers to opt out.
Posted: 2014-02-25 @ 1:16am PT
Great advice! specially #6 and also #1
Posted: 2013-12-19 @ 10:05am PT
Great advice. Each of our reps have a "Service with a Smile" mirror mounted right above their screen. Smiling on the phone really does make a difference.
Posted: 2013-12-19 @ 9:55am PT
Yes, skip the survey. Not just for call centers, but in stores too. I am so tired of every sales clerk and restaurant waiter explaining to me to go online and rate their service and be eligible for blah blah blah blah. Please, just take my payment, say thanks for shopping with us, and let me go on my way.
Posted: 2013-12-19 @ 9:41am PT
I love #6 -- reps actually calling back the customer if disconnected. It's so rare that contact-center reps offer to do that and SO often that I've been disconnected in the middle of a call… usually after lengthy and complicated discussions. Having to start over again can be so aggravating.