Call centers have become indispensable over the years. Although they have evolved and adapted to new and modern technologies, they still have their pitfalls. In fact, a lot of the changes that were thought to be solutions have brought on problems of their own.
In the past, before automatic directories and voice recognition were the norm, operators were on the line to direct people to the proper department. While this required a large support staff ($$$) and overworked operators, customers received a personalized and direct response. The replacement of the operator with a machine, or a never-ending directory, made the whole customer support experience a pain. Customers are more frustrated, aggravated and dissatisfied than ever.
Unfortunately, call centers cannot be phased out. For the time being, the call center represents the face of your company. It does not matter how successful your advertising or marketing efforts are, if you fail with customer support, you can ruin your reputation.
Call centers are the human extension of your company; when a customer talks to a representative of your call center, they are in essence talking to your company. This is still the only means of direct, real, one-on-one communication. Therefore, you have to get the most out of this connection. Customers should end a call feeling positive, pleasant and cared for.
There’s no getting around some of the main problems of call centers; such as wait times, hold times, miscommunications and telecommunication issues. But there are some things you can do to remedy the problems and even avoid them altogether.
First of all, what should your customers listen to during long hold times? I’ve encountered three general strategies for handling this – intermittent advertisements, music, and dead air. Dead air is a bad idea, because people get bored and it can be mistaken for a hang up. Intermittent advertisements are a nuisance; they deny the caller a moment’s peace while they wait, and intensifies their anger. “Not only do I have to wait but I have to hear about product sales and service packages?”
Music is the best bet, but don’t use dismal ‘elevator music’… we’re all tired of hearing it. Honestly, the best option is classical music, It has relaxing qualities that may calm down a frustrated caller.
Second, there’s the matter of interaction; the manner in which your operators handle the call. This is where you can convert an annoyed caller (who’s endured hold times and a frustrating directory) into a happy customer.
Be courteous and empathic with them, showing remorse and respect for the issue at hand. Show a general willingness to help. Professional and honesty are a must. Never guess, lie or make up an answer you do not have, because this will result in the customer returning even more upset than before. Maintain an air of calmness; always be willing to redirect them where they need, find information from other departments, and accommodate them in any way you can. Convey an eagerness to help, even if it’s not in your normal character.
Finally, above all else, competency is an absolute must. Not only must you be fast with your CRM software, you must also know how to handle it in any number of given scenarios. Never sound uneasy, unsure or unconfident with the customer. If you don’t know, ask a staff member and respond with the right answer.
Self-service is a great option that allows for customers to handle smaller issues on their own, while reducing the hold times for other customers, and with products like WalkMe, the users wont be claling the contact center for issues. Its certainly a problem solver.
You can’t get around the inherent limitations and annoyances of call centers. Customer support call centers are here to stay. In the meantime, your company, your agents and your representatives should do all they can to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Just follow these problem solving tips for the call center and you will be well on your way to optimal customer service!