For years, we’ve highlighted the rising importance of customer experience, having recognized that quality service begins and ends with the contact center. While it’s true call centers remained an afterthought for too long, today leading organizations recognize their importance to the bottom line and are redoubling efforts towards improving call center agent training, client retention, and providing supplemental resources that meet (and even exceed) customer experience promises.
9 Ways to Optimize Call Center Customer Service for Better Customer Experiences
In business, there’s an understanding that it’s ten times more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one. But, regardless of whether your company is focused on acquiring new clients or holding on to current ones, the same principle rings true -- superior customer service is the key to keeping your customers satisfied.
Below, we’ve outlined the nine best practices for call center customer service to help your company provide exceptional engagement with every interaction.
1. Equip teams to succeed
Excellent contact center customer service hinges on your team's ’s communication skills and technical support abilities as well as feeling confident in what they’re doing. Without investing in the call center agents themselves, it’s doubtful anyone will be able to perform at their peak. But, by taking the time to thoroughly train each agent, they’ll be equipped with the tools necessary for meaningful customer care.
At minimum, it’s imperative to train new agents on the basics of customer service (like proper etiquette and rapport) and company policies. Agents also need regular training and access to updated information about your goods and services as well as any promotions that may drive inbound questions from customers. Call center agents also need to be well equipped for a scenario where they need to set up a work from home call center.
The more prepared call center representatives are for the ongoing business needs, the more potential they have to resolve issues and find solutions within the first call.
2. Moving call centers to the cloud
Not only has customer support continued to grow in importance, but the need to scale contact centers has never been higher. A primary reason cloud contact centers are becoming the industry norm is due to the clear advantage they offer in delivering a comprehensive customer experience.
Moving to the cloud lets teams scale up or down to meet customer demand, which is critical for businesses like retailers who need flexibility during peak times. Additionally, cloud solutions like CxEngage allow companies to more easily respond to market conditions - such as a shift to remote agents or new contact centers in different geographies. This not only makes IT’s job easier, but it allows the organization to deliver consistently positive experiences no matter where the call center agent or the caller are located.
3. Implement intelligent routing
It’s unlikely many (if any) of your customers enjoy being on hold, yet inbound call centers handle incredible call volumes on a daily basis, which poses a challenge to addressing issues in a timely manner. Fortunately, by implementing intelligent routing like an automatic call distribution system, your company can easily reduce wait times and limit customer frustration.
ACDs direct callers to the correct department or agent who can assist with their issue in real-time. These systems instantly transform an overwhelming number of calls into a well-organized queue, helping fulfill customer needs in a quicker, more streamlined fashion.
4. Store account data from each call
Another advantage of using an ACD is its ability to integrate with other business software, like customer relationship management platforms. By syncing these two services, you’ll save ample time on data entry, since call notes and recordings are automatically linked between the ACD and CRM.
Thanks to this stored information for each call, customer service representatives have access to tons of relevant details, meaning customers won’t need to explain their issues multiple times to different agents. Accumulated account data enhances both the sales and support process, and results in more effective and consistent call center customer service.
5. Make communication more personal
Customers want to feel as though they matter to the organizations with whom they do business, and one of the most effective strategies companies can employ to reinforce this perception is through personalization. In fact, a recent Accenture study found that 33% of customers who abandoned a business relationship did so because personalization was lacking.
Even if your company already provides personalized service, you should always be looking for ways to improve every customer’s experience with a positive attitude. The goal is to make callers feel seen and valued, which can be tricky when you’re interacting over the phone, text or chat rather than in person (a video-enabled contact center can help with this).
A good place to start is by shifting perspectives to view calls as real-time relationships, rather than just another number in the queue. If agents use their name when they pick up the phone (and then address the customer by name, as well), you’ll stand out as a company who truly cares. It’s these thoughtful touches that’ll take customer satisfaction to the next level and improve retention year after year.
6. Listen to customers’ concerns
Once a call center agent is connected to a customer, it’s important for the agent to actively listen as the customer articulates the reason for their incoming call. Whether they’re upset about something, or they have wonderful things to say about your company, or they land somewhere in between, what all customers want is simply to be heard.
Call center customer service sets itself apart when agents take a moment to really listen and understand the obstacle or opportunity that’s been presented, and this will ultimately allow them to serve the caller much better in the end.
7. Effectively address issues
If your company makes team training a priority, then your customer service agents will feel empowered to tackle any number of questions or concerns. Endlessly transferred calls to other departments or to escalating levels of authority will only irritate the customer further, which is why it’s necessary to address issues the first time.
Agents who have the tools and autonomy to quickly solve problems will make customers feel good about choosing to do business with you. And once customers know they can trust your team to take care of them, their loyalty will soar.
8. Review customer calls
Taking the time to review calls is a valuable component of call center customer service, but unfortunately, few companies regularly leverage this asset. Reviews can happen one of two ways, either by recording conversations to replay later on, or by having the customer service manager listen in while an agent is on a live call.
Either method you choose, make sure to listen for areas that can improve, as well as areas that deserve recognition. Reviewing calls is a chance to learn from previous customer interactions and encourage positive behaviors to build an even stronger team moving forward.
9. Keep your team happy
Keeping your agents happy and motivated in their work is essential to providing the highest quality service, since these are the individuals who directly interact with your customers. It’s difficult to provide outstanding customer service if your team doesn’t feel supported or prepared to do their best, which is why agent training is so intertwined with overall success.
Treating people well and acknowledging their hard work is also paramount to team morale and mood. Call center agents have a challenging job, but those who feel encouraged and appreciated by their supervisors are more inclined to treat customers with that same respect.
Contact Center Customer Service FAQs
What are important qualities in a customer service representative?
Among the most important qualities for customer service representatives are patience, empathy, strong time management and the ability to multitask. Agents who embody these characteristics will thrive in their role and make a lot of customers happy in the meantime.
How can I be a good call center agent?
A good call center agent stays organized, pays attention to details, remains calm under pressure and communicates effectively. Agents represent their company to every customer they interact with, which is why it’s crucial to treat each caller with kindness and respect.
How do you handle difficult customers?
When dealing with difficult customers, call center agents should try to actively listen and empathize with the situation. Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and echoing their frustration will diffuse things and reassure them you’re going to do all you can to help.
In order to stay ahead of your competitors, you have to delight customers with exceptional experiences across the board. Fortunately, call centers can employ simple but focused strategies to put customers first, use technology wisely, and take care of their team members. In doing so, you’ll deliver the superior service today’s consumer craves, and enjoy the company-wide ripple effects of positive customer engagement.
To learn more about how Serenova’s cloud contact center and workforce automation solutions can create a phenomenal customer experience, request a demo here.