backtoschool Time for “Back to School”

Your call center is probably the single most common touchpoint for customers, and up to 92% of consumers say they judge a company based upon the interactions they have with its call center. That makes your customer service representatives an extremely valuable asset to the organization’s bottom line. They are the face of the company, and a tremendous opportunity to deliver satisfaction and build loyalty.

Yet, according the a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 68% of customers have gone to a competitor because they were unhappy with the treatment they received while speaking to a customer service center. The lesson here? As fall approaches, it’s time to think “back to school” by providing your call center staff the training it needs to deliver the best possible customer experience.

There are a variety of good reasons to “hit the books”:

    1. Introduction of new, multichannels of communication. All the latest call center trends—email, SMS or web chatting—are great, but won’t serve the customer or build loyalty if staff is clumsy in its delivery.
    2. Updated processes or technology. How is customer information collected, shared and stored? Are follow-up emails expected? Are service reps now expected to cross-sell and up-sell? How is a hand-off managed? Are updated metrics being applied? Customer satisfaction depends on a seamless experience at every level.
    3. Current trends in technical support. Quality technical support can be the hook that keeps customers loyal. However, it’s not necessarily the technical know-how of a support team but how they communicate what they know that makes the difference.
    4. Time to brush up on “soft skills”. Best-in-class call centers are those where staff is well versed in the skills of listening, respect, positive attitude, communication, creativity, and the ability to ask the questions that get to the heart of the customer inquiry. In fact, if your service team goes “back to school” for no other reason, it would be to remember the universal truths of what the customer really wants!
  • Treat me like a person, not an issue. Listen carefully and take time to understand what I really need.
  • Work with me to solve MY problem. You may have a script, but one size does not fit all!
  • Give me someone who is well trained and knowledgeable. If YOU can’t help me, quickly and graciously give me someone who can.
  • Give me a real live person! Computers aren’t empathetic and they’re not smart. For the most part, they’re irritating.
  • Give me even more than I ask for. Surprise me with excellent service!

5. It starts at the top. Good front-line supervision is critical to retaining good employees. High employee turnover is costly and, as the economy improves, predictions are that turnover will increase. Managers can help stem the tide by attracting good people, and creating a positive work environment with supportive listening, sincere praise, and by empowering staff to make decisions that capture the company’s customer service goals. While many of these suggestions sound simple and logical, they may not feel natural to supervisors who are used to more traditional ways of managing staff.

Test Time!

Consumers have almost unlimited choices. And while price/value will, in certain instances, determine their purchase, Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report finds that, even in a negative economy, 60% of consumers are often or always willing to pay more for excellent customer experience.

The lesson? An ongoing, strategic training program can help your call center team deliver the best possible service experience and develop a long-term, loyal customer base. Now, back to school!