Call center companies, just like other businesses, strive to climb to the top of the industry. To achieve high trust ratings and recommendations from clients, partner corporations, and agencies, call center companies adopt a specific set of practices to improve customer experience and establish excellent customer interaction. Whether you are a contact center owner or a call center agent, these practices could help you achieve excellent customer service:
Best Call Center Practices to Achieve Customer Satisfaction
1. Creating a Contact Center Knowledge Base
This is one of the most important things that businesses (including call centers) tend to miss. Not every customer wants to wait in a queue to talk to a call center agent for a problem that can be solved in 5 minutes or less. An effective call center should have an effective and updated knowledge base that customers can refer to when they need answers to more simple questions and inquiries.
A knowledge base may include answers to frequently asked questions, customer support hotlines, how-to guides and lists, blogs, and even career opportunities. An inquiry that can be answered through a knowledge base within a minute could help you decrease the number of calls for not-so-serious customer issues and will allow you to maximize your time in taking serious customer calls that need full attention.
Create an effective knowledge base by compiling the most common questions and inquiries encountered by customer service representatives, providing detailed and right solutions, and transforming it through creative media and materials such as guide videos or blog postings.
2. Maintain Good Relationships with Customers through Best Service Etiquette
One thing’s for sure, not all customers are nice. There are days that irate customers come from the first call down to the last call of an agent’s shift. And yes, this could be frustrating. Call center scripts are made to pacify intense situations between agents and customers, and at the same time, keep a uniform communication system. If you want to improve the customer experience, start with the best service etiquette in the agent training phase. The best customer service experiences usually come from agents calm and professional in dealing with customer issues; indeed, being cool under pressure will give you the best side of the coin. Call center managers should take note of these call center etiquette tips to give exceptional customer support and service all the time:
Avoid using negative language.
This is one thing that throws off every customer. Poor customer calls are the result of negative language from agents, specifically, when dealing with customer requests. To be fair, some customers can be extremely rude when it comes to relaying their requests to agents, but as the saying goes, never fight fire with fire. An irate customer can be frustrating but using negative language will not solve anything. It would just make the customer angry, resulting in a longer call time and most probably, negative customer feedback. Use positive language even in the most disappointing scenarios and always try to offer alternative solutions.
Always keep up with the necessary information.
Talking about the average handling time to resolve a customer’s issue, the standard duration set by the industry is 8 to 10 minutes. This means that successful call centers train their agents to adopt the first call resolution approach when handling customer calls. With this, customer service teams should keep up with all the necessary information and the questions asked by customers. Not having enough information could result in call transfers, putting a customer on hold, and longer wait times.
It would also be inappropriate to initiate a callback, especially if the concern can be settled in one call. Remember, no customer wants to be put on hold, so call center agents should always be alert and attentive in learning important company and customer information.
Never leave the customer hanging.
Another factor that affects the customer satisfaction score of many call center companies and agents is open-ended communication. In the call center industry, the best companies take pride in their agents’ proven call handling and problem-solving abilities. When a customer relays his or her concern, an experienced agent ensures that all customer service goals are accomplished before the call ends. While some customers could be stubborn with their demands, to the extent of wanting the agent to bend the rules for them, telling them their limits and offering an alternative solution could appease them.
Instead of ending the call with an apology because there’s nothing you can do to give his or her request, come up with another offer of assistance, discount, or in-store credit. Just make sure that this will be done with the approval of the management.
Rudeness is never the right answer.
Call scripts can only do so much in handling the rage of customers calling to air their complaints. Most of the time, the quality of call center operations is determined by the attitude of the agents, most especially, during the most challenging situations. If there are 500 customers satisfied with the services and there is 1 customer who complained about it, never ever disregard the said complaint. To be specific, mentioning 500 customers were satisfied invalidates that one customer’s complaint.
This might give the customer a wrong signal as if you are trying to put the blame on his or her standards of quality service, and things will not be good between the customer and the entire team. If you are a call center owner who wants to improve your call center’s performance, consider attitude as a deal maker or a dealbreaker.
3. Hire the Best People – Skills, and Attitude-Wise
Customer loyalty is built through customer service, and customer service is built through the perfect combination of attitude and abilities. Poor customer service, as expected, is the result of the opposite. If you want to ensure top-notch call center performance, start by hiring the best people. One of the most important call center practices is a thorough, fair, yet practical recruitment and hiring process. Hiring managers tend to look for the perfect balance between abilities and attitude.
For example, a graduate of a prestigious university with Latin honors but with moderate anger management problems is not the best person for a team leader position since call center services involve facing customers, handling customer issues, and at the same time, protecting the client-company relationship.
Moreover, a high school graduate with a positive attitude could be the perfect fit. This is how call centers are different from other companies because they focus on various areas to assess an employee’s performance. Although other call center companies still prefer applicants with call center experience, there are many companies that also choose to hire newbies in the industry as they are known to be teachable and passionate when it comes to learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge.
4. Rely on Call Center KPIs and Metrics
After hiring and training the best people for your teams, this one is another call center best practice to follow. Performance management is an effective way to make sure that the performance of all team members is up to the standards set by the company and the clients. To continuously improve customer service, rely on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), call center metrics, and other important aspects of call center agent performance. The following are examples of call center metrics that you must track regularly to maintain excellent agent and team performance:
- Customer Service Satisfaction (CSAT)
- Average handle time
- Call abandonment rate
- Service level
- First call resolution
- Call volume
This is a crucial part of call center management wherein customers are given the right to assess and evaluate factors such as call quality, product quality, transaction flow, etc., and make these factors the bases of a call center’s performance. Call monitoring is also done so that the employees may improve their communication and negotiation strategies.
Additionally, call center stress testing is also conducted by new companies to identify strong and weak points and provide solutions to improve and resolve them. The number of inbound calls received, outbound calls generated, and metrics like average handle time are also a few of the important factors that call centers consider during a stress test. Most of the time, high call volumes and customer relationship management are two of the most common issues discovered in a stress test.
5. Use Customer Surveys to Promote Customer Service
Wordplay aside, surveys give potential customers a subtle peek at a call center company’s type of service. It does not matter what type of call center you own; regular surveys with customers as respondents can help you fill in the gaps in your call center services. Even if the majority is satisfied with what you are doing, it is important to consider the opinion of the minority who believes that there are still a few things missing. To start surveys, record customer information shared through calls.
It would be easier to reach out to your customers for a survey if you have updated customer data wherein all the necessary information including their service expectations are mentioned.
6. Be Updated with the Call Center
Technology is power, and all industries could attest to it. If you want your call center company to thrive in the highly competitive industry, learn to incorporate your business operations with modern approaches in call center technology. Most call center companies use call center software to monitor calls and determine factors that affect call handling and call rates.
7. Streamline Your Call Center Operations
Working in a call center, agents encounter different customer feedback, complaints, and inquiries through phone or email. If you are determined to streamline your call center operations, consider following the omnichannel cloud contact center solutions. Omnichannel refers to a multichannel method of sales and marketing that aims to provide a seamless shopping experience by giving customers 24/7 access to products and services in different customer service channels such as live chat, phone, email, or social media.
Since some online stores are located offshore, the timezone difference can be a challenge for business owners and customers. Having an omnichannel cloud contact center could bring convenience not just to the customers but also to the agents.
8. Keep in Touch with the Customers, Post-Service
When all the metrics on customer satisfaction have been observed, this is another important step that agents miss most of the time. Keeping in touch with customers after helping them resolve service-related issues is an excellent way of establishing continuous rapport and communication with them.
While this is not written in the book, verifying the status of the client’s complaint and issue after solving it gives your service a more intimate touch. Personalized customer service is usually commended because it makes customers feel valued and respected. This could result in customer loyalty and repeat service. And who doesn’t want that, right?
9. Continuing Training
Even the call center experts will agree that training is necessary for a call center company to prosper. Aside from the changes in technological demands, staff and management knowledge should also be refreshed from time to time. Giving all employees access to important company policies, a code of ethics, and discipline is also important.
In a way, the company will be more aware of its corporate, social, and ethical responsibilities, and the employees will take pride in working with a competitive, competent, and reputable company.
10. Let the Reviews Do the Talking
Potential customers looking for new products or services also look for reviews. Why not, reviews are usually the most honest and legitimate way to know the quality of a product or service provider that a customer wants to try.
After every call, make sure to ask the customer to provide a review of his or her call experience. Review links can be sent via email or SMS, others have their customer reviews posted on social media.
Call Center Best Practices For Training Agents
There are a number of best practices that you can follow to help your call center agents deliver superb customer service. Here are some of the most important ones:
- New recruits should spend about 6 weeks on training, including theory and practice calls with their managers. This will give them enough time to learn the basics and get comfortable handling customer inquiries.
- Training should be treated as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Agents need to be constantly learning and developing new skills so that they can provide the best possible service to customers.
- You need to incorporate regular coaching sessions into your call center training to help underperforming agents improve their performance. Coaching helps agents identify and fix any weaknesses they may have so that they can start delivering better results.
- Use best practices from your top performing agents to help other team members improve. This will help you create a culture of excellence and raise the overall standards of customer service in your call center.
11. Train Agents in the Company’s Culture
A company’s culture is a critical factor in employee satisfaction and productivity. The goal of call center training should be to create a unified culture that reflects the company’s purpose. This will help ensure that employees are more satisfied with their jobs and productive in their work.
12. Train Agents on the Customer Base
The goal of any contact center is to deliver loyal customers. To achieve this, it is important to train your agents properly, measure their performance, and incentivize them for success. Call center training should be designed to help agents become better at their job. It should be interactive and involve agents working together in a simulated environment. This will give them the opportunity to learn from each other and improve their skills.
13. Train Agents in the Call Center’s Technology
Train agents in the call center’s technology to provide quality customer service. It is essential that employees are properly trained on how to use the company’s software and systems in order to solve customer issues and questions. One way to train employees is through webinars and workshops which give them the opportunity to ask questions and learn from experts.
14. Train Agents in the Call Center’s Processes
It is important to train employees thoroughly so that they are able to do their jobs properly. In a call center, this means familiarizing them with the company’s specific goals and processes. Agents may not be familiar with these things when they start working, so it is essential to use various methods of training, such as role-playing, simulations, and on-the-job coaching.
15. Train Agents on How to Handle Customer Complaints
- Teach agents how to defuse customer anger.
- Show agents how to do active listening.
- Encourage agents to take ownership of the issue.
- Train agents on how to use positive language.
- Help agents understand the customer’s perspective.
There are lots of practices that call centers can follow to deliver the best levels of service and support to their customers. In every call, this list can be improved, and so many approaches can be added for a better customer experience. Keep in mind that in managing a call center company, the goal to give customers delight does not end with a satisfied customer.
An ethical and competent company extends its service to the welfare of its employees too. Set your goals, hire the best people, train them, and work with them in taking care of your customers.
Do you have other best practices in mind? Share it with us!
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