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From the blog

Five Effective Ways of Maintaining Active Listening in the Call

Active Listening Skill

Active Listening SkillActive listening is a critical skill every call center agent needs to hone. By mastering this skill, an agent is highly likely to deliver a positive experience in each customer interaction.

It bears mentioning, however, that active listening goes beyond just hearing and understanding the words coming out of the caller’s mouth.

It’s a dynamic process that requires the agent’s full engagement.

Active listening can be a difficult skill to master, but far from impossible. Here are tips to help call center agents maintain active listening while on the job.

1. Be at the moment

A call center agent needs to give the customer her undivided attention the moment she finishes her standard welcome spiel.

In short, she has to be fully at the moment, not allowing distractions to draw her attention away from what the customer is saying.

Granted, customers go into tangent at times, and might even head towards boring territory.

That, however, is no excuse for agents to get sidetracked. The moment their thoughts start to wander, the agent has to force herself to refocus.

2. Empathize

Knowing how to put yourself in the customer’s shoes comes with the territory when you’re a call center agent. Additionally, empathy is a skill that can help agents focus better on what customers are saying.

This is why it’s essential that agents are trained and often reminded to always understand where the caller is coming from, even when that caller is unreasonable.

Listening is always easier when there’s a genuine desire to help. The same rule applies to conversations between customer and call center agent.

3. Don’t jump to conclusions

Call center agents often handle similar issues on a day to day basis, and doing so may make the job feel repetitive to them.

Because of this tendency, agents may fall into the trap of jumping to conclusions when a customer talks about an issue they’ve heard many times before.

This is a critical error customer service reps need to avoid at all costs.

When listening and talking to customers, agents need to keep an open mind. This ensures that they’re not missing out on critical information and subtle cues that can help them arrive at the best solution.

4. Ask for clarifications when needed

Even the most skilled listener can get confused by what a speaker is saying especially when it comprises many complex or seemingly unrelated ideas.

This is why agents have to be reminded not to shy away from asking for clarifications when something is confusing or unclear.

More often than not, callers will take it as a cue that the rep is listening and genuinely interested in helping out.

That said, agents have to wait for the caller to make a pause before asking for clarifications. Reps can say something along the lines of, “Back up a second, but could you clarify that for me, please?”

5. Master paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is the process of restating what the speaker has said, but in different words and, whenever necessary, in a slightly different context.

It’s an important skill to have because it shows the caller that the agent is paying close attention. It also assures the customer that the agent can fully understand his issue.

Ultimately, paraphrasing, when done well, makes customers feel that their issue is being addressed with a sense of urgency.

Key Takeaway:

In a world becoming even more beset with distractions, it’s starting to feel like active listening is becoming a lost art. Let this not be the case in your call center.

When push comes to shove, active listening is what makes it possible for us humans to make meaningful connections with each other. It goes without saying that the same rule applies to providers and customers.

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Why Promoting from within is Good for Your Call Center Business

Call Center Business

Call Center BusinessThe question of whether it’s preferable for organizations to prioritize internal hires over outsiders when filling a job vacancy has long been settled for years now.

And the general consensus is this: internal hires trump external hires almost every time.

What settled it was a 2012 study made by Wharton assistant professor Matthew Bidwell, who came out with these findings:

  • Internal hires perform much better on the job in the first few years following a promotion than outsiders who were recruited for the similar job.
  • External hires have higher exit rates than internal hires.
  • External candidates are offered higher salaries (up to 20 percent%) than internal hires.

All results point to the same conclusion: promoting those belonging to the existing employee base is far more recommendable than hiring from outside.

While there’s no study similar to Bidwell’s that exclusively applies to call center organizations, logic dictates that the same rule still applies.

Here are five reasons why call centers will do well to prioritize internal recruits over external candidates in their recruitment efforts.

1. It’s cost-effective

Call center organizations spend quite a hefty amount each year in recruiting new hires.

On top of paying for advertisements, the HR team also has to allocate expenses on pre-screenings and interviews before deciding to hire a new employee.

And don’t even get started on the training expenses. Do you know that the average call center spends nearly 2,000 dollars training each new recruit in a span of 4 weeks?

In fact, this Tenacity article has been kind enough to do the math for us.

Considering the high employee turnover rate in most call center organizations, there’s no question that prioritizing internal hires over outsiders is the more attractive route.

Besides, all the money expended on advertisements, screenings, training classes, etc. would be better spent on empowering your current employee base and boosting their morale.

2. Saves you time

As if the hiring process isn’t strenuous enough, the company also has to invest some time in orienting new employees to the company’s vision, values, technologies, and processes as soon as they are hired.

In addition, new recruits also have to go through a steep learning curve before they can get acclimated to their new environment.

In contrast, promoting an existing employee allows you to do away with all that. Considering the call center industry’s fast-paced environment, time is a luxury you don’t have.

3. Boosts productivity and morale

Rewarding productive employees with a promotion is an excellent way to foster a culture of loyalty, growth, and stability in the organization.

When employees feel that their hard work and dedication are rewarded by the company, they are more likely to feel more motivated to give it their best at work.

Moreover, unlike external recruits, existing employees are already familiar with the organization’s policies and procedures, and as such will be much more productive right from the get-go following a promotion.

4. Improves employee engagement

By promoting deserving employees, you are giving them a sense of growth and direction in their career within the organization.

This, in turn, motivates them to take ownership of their roles within the company and as a result, will give it their best efforts.

Conclusion:

While external hiring has its own merits (for example, new hires are more likely to bring new ideas to the company), studies and current sentiments show that internal hiring is far more preferable as a recruitment strategy.

When existing employees feel that they can count on the company to provide them career opportunities that they worked hard for, it gives everyone a better sense of stability.

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20 High-Converting Sales Tips from Sales Experts

Sales Expert

Sales ExpertSales tips… One can never get enough of them.

After all, selling is a profession that is as exciting as it is challenging — not to mention the variety of pleasures and pains that come with it.

While that may be the case, there is, however, a more pressing reason why companies need to pay attention to every piece of sales advice that comes their way — the times are yet again changing, and their sales techniques can easily become obsolete.

That being said, when it comes to sales, stagnation is never an option.What better way to keep up with the current sales trends and techniques than to read up on the powerful selling tips that seasoned sales experts are using.

If you’re interested to learn about the best selling tips that the industry experts are using, then you’re in the right place.We’re going to share with you 20 high-converting sales tips from sales experts.

Let’s hop right in.

1. Mike Saunders, MBA, The Authority Positioning Coach

Have authority positioning assets like media mentions, podcast interviews and publishing, built for their brand which serve as a long-term digital footprint for their target audience to discover. This works to pre-sell them before they even connect. Building your authority is your #1 priority.

2. Loren Fogelman, Business Success Coach, BusinessSuccessSolution.com

The Right Mindset: Become Their Trusted Advisor.

To win a new client, you want to appeal to their emotions. That’s because people don’t buy services, they buy feelings. Either they want to resolve a problem or achieve a result. Don’t worry about whether or not you know the best sales technique. Instead develop great questions that help you figure out what your prospect wants.

They’ll sign on as a new client once they believe you possess the solution to their problem. So it’s essential that you win their trust instead of overwhelming them with details about your service.

3. Erica Duran, Freedom Business Mentor and Digital Marketing Expert, EricaDuran.co

“Start a Conversation, Not a Sales Pitch”

At the beginning we don’t know if our products or services are a good fit for a particular person. We have to explore and find out together if working together is a good idea.

It has to be a win-win.

4. Ellory Wells, Executive Coach, ElloryWells.com

I’d say 2 things:

1) Stop with the hard-sell. Nobody likes it. We don’t mind buying, but nobody wants to be sold. Build a relationship with someone before you sell to them.

2) You have to believe that what you have to offer is what your prospects really need. You have to believe that your product is a glass of water and you’re looking for thirsty people. If you don’t believe 100% in your solution, you’ll get surpassed by someone who does.

5. Nora Conrad, CEO, Norbly Media

I wouldn’t really call myself a sales expert, but if I had to give one bit of advice, it would be that the sales start with the product/service. You can’t sell a crap product. You need to understand what your audience wants and build it, then you can focus on sales tactics. Until you build a product people actually want or need, you’ll be spinning your wheels.

6. Nick Bettes, Founder, BusinessCoachKit.com

Make sure your salespeople can understand and explain your positioning (your niche, their pain, your better solution) before you waste money training them on your product or sales process.

7. Gareth Shackleton, Business Coach, ActionCOACH

I would suggest starting with getting crystal clear about who you are targeting your sales at and why they would want to buy from you. It’s not enough to have a product that is different (because these days it’s not unique/different for very long), but the way you deliver it and the experience the customer has must be tailored to your target’s wants and needs as well.

If you get clear about these things all the following steps in the sales process become easier.

8. Mark Frey, Certified Business Coach, FocalPoint Business Coaching & Training

Quantify the COST of the customer’s pain.

In other words, what is the cost to the business if you fail to take action and fix this problem that you are telling me about?

How much is this problem or issue costing your company in revenues? Then you can compare that cost to the cost of coaching and ask them if they would spend X to get to target Y.

9. Claudia Crawley, CEO, Executive Coach and Career Mentor for Women, Winning Pathways Coaching Ltd

Before going through any sales conversation, be sure that this potential buyer is definitely from your target market. Then prepare yourself by letting go of any anxiety regarding the sale.

Raise your energy level by getting into peak state so that you’re feeling powerful and self-assured. Then smile. You’ll impress as warm and friendly, confident, and enthusiastic. These are infectious and will help you engage more effectively with the customer.

10. Tim Stokes, Founder, Profit Transformations

“Selling is the art of asking, quality, educational questions”.

Too often people are guarded towards salespeople, so telling them what they should do, or what you offer is just going to create an objection. Don’t create objections by statements, ask questions. This shows you care, want to understand, are a good listener and wanting to assist them with their ‘problem’, of who to choose to provide the service/product they require.

11. Rob Taylor-Brown, Director, Attention to Retail Ltd

People buy people not products, be honest and open and they will buy.

12. Pat Roberts, Executive Coach & Partner, Change Partners Coaching

Understand who you’re talking to and what they want out of the interaction with you. That way you’re soling their need not pushing your offering.

13. Alan Adams, Award Winning Coach Speaker and Author, Horizons Consultants

You may find yourself in a situation where you ask about a client’s budget and the client gives you a firm answer. No matter what they say, make sure you use these next two words, just say “up to” and then shut up and don’t say a word, nothing, no matter how tempted you are, just wait for their response.

In many cases, the client will give you a much higher figure, and this gives you the opportunity to much more comprehensively answer the client’s brief, to do a much better job for them, and of course plenty more opportunity to show your value.

You need to have ‘your right to be there’ absolutely nailed. Your right is when you first sit down, or at some point in the first meeting, you tell the client about you and your business. This would typically include the years of experience you have in the industry, your expertise, name-dropping clients that are appropriate and who would impress, as well as awards, accreditations, and recent publications you’d been in.

You do this so the client completely understands why you have the right to sit in front of them and offer advice. In the client’s head they should perceive you as an expert and so someone they should listen too.

14. Holly Worton, Business Mindset Alchemist, Holly Worton

I’ve done sales training courses and I’ve learned scripts and outlines of how to manage a sales conversation, and I followed those for years. They worked. But it got to a point where they just didn’t feel right anymore, and since then I’ve simply moved to a non-scripted conversation model where I simply speak with the potential client to get an idea of what they need help with, whether I can help them and, most importantly, where I think I’m the best person to help them.

I treat sales conversations as I would an interview: it’s got to be a good fit for both of us. Since making this shift in how I handle sales conversations, I feel more natural and authentic. It’s what works for me.

15. Nicola Huelin, Award-winning Business Coach & Mentor, Founder of MPower for Mums in Business, Author of The Invisible Revolution

The single best way to ensure consistent and increasing sales is to get your Marketing right. If clients are the lifeblood of a business, Marketing is the heartbeat. Understanding what effective Marketing is, and investing time, energy and money in laying the right Marketing foundations is an investment which will give you a huge return over time. Imagine a world with no more cold-calling, feeling awkward or pushy – imagine a consistent flow of clients ready and needing exactly what you provide, knocking on your door. Doing business from a strong Marketing platform means that rather than have to struggle with selling, we can enjoy serving with ease.

16. Alejandra Crisafulli, Award Winning Master Relationship Coach, Alejandra Crisafulli Coaching

My biggest tip to “selling” is to relationship develop rather than think about a person as a sale. When you approach your “sales conversation” as just that… “a conversation” then you develop a relationship and people love to be liked & valued. When they feel that from you they are will to buy from you.

17. André Hindley, Owner, Mindfree Coaching

Society is ‘wisening up’ significantly when it comes to sales and marketing. Sustainability is the new buzzword in business. What you want are quality customers, to build a long-term brand trust relationship with. When you’ve achieved this, customers will sell your product for you.

What is critical is that you ensure that the product you sell is authentic and of good quality, no matter what it is. Any compromise on this is compromising your reputation and hence your business. PRICE IS NOT KING, TRUST IS.

18. Asanda Gcoyi, Head: Talent Management, CB Talent

The two things I swear by when it comes to selling anything are as follows:

1) Ensure you are over prepared- know your potential clients and what their pain points are (and what those are costing them) and tailor your proposition based on that. There is nothing worse than making a cold selling pitch!

2). Understand and be passionate about what you are selling- the potential client can tell when you are box-ticking. You can achieve this by going over and above the typical script; familiarise yourself with FAQs on your service or goods and never stop learning more about your offering. Nothing beats a knowledgeable and passionate sales person.

19. Terri Levine, Bestselling Author of Turbocharge How To Transform Your Business As A Heartrepreneur

Sell is not a nasty four letter word. When you focus on helping others and detach from the outcome and simply tune in asking yourself, “Can I make a difference with my products and services?”, then you will have a relational conversation from your heart.

20. Tony Selimi, Author, Speaker, Cognition and Human Behavioural Expert, TJS Cognition

To sell more is to know how to articulate with clarity how the solution you are offering resolves a meaningful problem for your customer.

Knowing your clients hierarchy of values help you communicate your offer in a language that your client understands.

What’s Next?

What are some of the best selling tips that you can share with the community?

If there are ideas or strategies that you think can help our readers of business owners and entrepreneurs, then please share them in the comments section below.

Cheers!

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How to Put a Call on Hold without Upsetting Your Customers

Bob is on his laptop pounding away on the keyboard, a deadline breathing down his neck. Suddenly, his internet connection stops working.

Seething, Bob gives the internet service’s technical support a call, goes through a cavalcade of voice prompts until finally, he connects with a living, breathing person.

Bob tries to explain his issue calmly, and then the representative tells (not ask) him that he’s putting him on hold.

And so the rep places him on hold without much ceremony. Cue annoying music.

If you were Bob, how would you feel?

Precisely! Poor Bob.

Let’s cut to the chase: customers don’t like being put on hold.

If a representative has no choice in the matter, the least he could do is be professional or nice about it. The customer deserves that courtesy. After all, they’re paying for the service.

How can customer service reps put customers on hold without upsetting them, or at least not too much? Let’s cover all the bases, shall we?

1. What to say before placing customers on hold

Representatives have to talk in a professional yet pleasant voice and use the customer’s name to establish a connection. Use paraphrasing to let customers know that the rep understands the issue.

And when reps need to put the customer on hold, they should ask first and do it nicely. Moreover, they should explain the reason why they have to place the customer on hold.

For example, a representative can tell the customer, “May I place you on hold for a minute or two while I do a quick research on the issue?”

Reps also need to tell the customer that they’ll get back to her in a minute. It goes without saying that that promise has to be kept.

Remember, most customers tend to get frustrated when they get put on hold for more than two minutes. For calling customers, two minutes feel like forever.

2. What to say after placing customers on hold

In getting back to the customer, reps can either thank him for his patience or apologize for putting him on hold.

The latter is more appropriate if the caller was already put on hold more than once or was made to wait for more than a minute (that shouldn’t happen in the first place, but just in case).

If the wait time is too long and the representative is not yet done with what she has to do, she needs to get back to the customer to let him/her know that she hasn’t forgotten about him/her.

But what if a customer doesn’t want to be put on hold? The answer is simple: don’t put the customer on hold unless you need to transfer the call to the right department.

Five things to avoid when putting customers on hold:

  • Interrupting the caller so that he can be put on hold.
  • Putting the customer on hold for more than two minutes.
  • Asking a customer if he can call back (the rep should be the one to call the customer back).
  • Putting the caller on hold too many times.

What’s next?

By following all the steps and tips mentioned above, on-hold times will be less frustrating for customers, which can positively impact customer experience in a big way.

Of course, the contact center has to do some of the heavy liftings as well. The first step is to evaluate the center’s systems and procedures and check which areas may require fixes and improvement.

Once problem areas are detected, necessary fixes and upgrades have to be made as soon as possible.

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Crucial Elements that Make Up a Winning Call Flow

Call Flow

Call FlowYour call center’s call flow management system has a significant bearing on whether clients will be happy with your services after the end of a call.

A call flow, by strict definition, is the roadmap that defines the path of an incoming call. Usually presented by a tree system, it’s a system that represents where the call is routed according to the customer’s specific needs.

That’s why it’s imperative that the necessary measures are taken to ensure that your call flow is structured in such a way that can address clients’ needs at the optimal level.

Here are the crucial elements that make up a winning call flow.

1. Efficient Call Handling

The first few minutes of an inbound call are critical for many reasons. For one, it sets the groundwork for the rest of the call flow. But if the customer is directed to the wrong person right from the get-go, chances are it’s going to get ugly.

You can remedy this by using inbound call control features from your provider. A good call control software uses programmable criteria such as:

  • Geographic origin of the call
  • Customer’s phone number
  • Phone number the customer dials
  • Time of day or day of the week the call is made

2. A Good Call Management Feedback System

A call center organization has to take a proactive approach to improving all areas of its operations, and to pull this off one has to implement a reliable feedback system.

The call management system your contact center uses presents excellent opportunities for spotting opportunities for improving customer service.

By checking on statistics provided by your system, you can spot patterns and trends which you can use to come up with effective solutions to irregularities found in the call flow.

3. Efficient Automated Attendant System

A sophisticated yet efficient automated attendant system is instrumental in maintaining a smooth call flow for all inbound calls.

Not only does the Automated Attendant assist customers to connect with the right department, but it also gives greater flexibility in how they can manage the call.

Better yet, it’s a boon to those who prefer to do things by themselves.

Using the standard touch-tone keypad, customers can find answers to basic questions and resolve non-complex issues by themselves.

When configured well, an automated attendant system can bolster call handling efficiency on many fronts.

4. Total time the customer is on the phone line

An automated attendant is as necessary as it is useful in maintaining a good call flow in inbound calls.

Listening to an automated voice for nearly half a minute every time, however, can take its toll on a customer’s patience. Most customers prefer to speak to a human being right away.

So make sure that you configure your automated attendant system in such a way that it takes less time for customers to go through options.

One excellent strategy is to configure the options according to the frequency of visits.

For example, you assign the number “1” option to customer service since it’s the department that most customers want to connect to.

Key Takeaway:

Take into account the four key elements mentioned above and your call center organization only one way to go but up.

There are no two ways about it: an efficient call flow translates to better customer service.

That’s because good call flow management gives customers better flexibility and a degree of control in managing their calls.

In short, it makes customers happy, which is always a good indicator that your customer service team is doing an excellent job.

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Qualities to Look For in Hiring Supervisors to Lead Your Customer Service Representatives

Supoervisor

SupoervisorAgents deserve all the kudos for being on the frontline of call center operations. Without them, businesses won’t be able to maintain a good relationship with their clients.

That said, supervisors deserve equal merit for their significant contributions as well. They are, after all, the ones responsible for motivating and inspiring call center agents.

Being a call center supervisor is a difficult job. For one, the job title comes with many responsibilities.

Hire a supervisor that isn’t equal to the job and chances are your agents will feel unmotivated, directionless, and generally disillusioned about their work.

To bring home the point, a Gallup study shows that at least 75-percent of employee turnover can be traced to managerial influence.

If you want your business to thrive, you have to ensure that the supervisors you hire have the following key characteristics:

1. Has a strategic mindset

The call center industry’s business climate is dynamic, fast-paced, and at times unpredictable, and for operations to run smoothly, you will need supervisors who can think objectively amidst all the chaos.

As such, you need supervisors who have the emotional intelligence, the mental clarity, and the derring-do to make the right decisions for every business challenge.

To manage employees in a way that drives competitive advantage, supervisors have to take into account each agent’s unique personality and be able to bring out the best in them.

2. Personable

For a leader to be effective, he or she has to be personable and approachable. After all, the responsibility of motivating and inspiring agent falls on him or her.

This is why you need supervisors who can foster an environment where employees are encouraged to ask questions and voice out their opinions without fear of ridicule and judgment.

If you hire leaders who tend to intimidate others, your business will lose out on opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and positive reinforcement.

3. Ability to think outside the box

As mentioned earlier, the call center industry is unpredictable. Things may be running smoothly, but there will come a time when you have to prepare for the proverbial curveball.

A supervisor not only has to deal with the daily tasks of managing call center agents, but he also needs to solve problems when new or unlooked-for challenges arise.

The manager has the resources to act on unique challenges and opportunities that contact centers regularly face.

When you have supervisors who can think of creative solutions when the situation calls for it, employees are always put in the best position to make a difference themselves.

4. Good multi-tasker

Supervisors have a lot on their plate, and if you want your call center operations to run smoothly, you need to hire managers who can juggle many balls all at once.

A call center supervisor’s typical workday involves coaching agents, tracking performance metrics, answering escalated calls, reporting to account managers, and more.

If you hire supervisors who can handle all these tasks but are still able to keep things in proper order, the more likely you’ll be able to accomplish your company’s business goals come hell or high water.

What’s Next?

Every organization has to face its own unique set of challenges and therefore has to do business in ways that can deliver positive outcomes.

To accomplish this, you need people who can lead and bail your business out of tough situations. Better yet, you need people who can motivate and inspire.

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4 Small Changes that Can Have A Huge Impact on Your Call Center Service Level

Call Center Service Level

Call Center Service Level
Service level is a metric that you can use to determine how accessible your company is to your customers.

The metric is defined as the percentage of calls that your team can answer within a predetermined time (or your target threshold).

Simply put, if your company has a poor service level, then that means your customers are waiting for a long time on the phone before your agents pick up — this could either be because there are far too many incoming calls, or there are too few agents available to answer the phone calls.

An excellent service level, on the other hand, means your customers can speak to an agent immediately.

In the call center industry, it is one of the most important indicators of productivity.

Because it can impact the overall experience of your customers with your company, failing to meet the desired service level target can cause all sorts of problem to a business.

If you’re struggling with meeting your service levels, then here are some tweaks that you can implement that can have a big impact on your call center service level.

Reward attendance

Because you will need your agents to report to work and have enough people to man the desk, it is not enough that you simply include the importance of employee attendance in your employee handbook or punish those who are unable to meet their attendance targets.

You can do more by providing various positive reinforcements for agents who come on time.

For instance, you can recognize employees with perfect attendance (and no tardiness) or give a small bonus.

Defined break schedule

The volume of calls that you receive will vary at different times of the day. You might receive fewer calls in the morning, for example, but will have volume build-up in the evening.

That is the reason why another small change that you can establish in your organization is to define different break schedules for all agents.

In this way, you can be sure that they will not go to lunch together at the expense of the service level.

Giving your agents different break schedule will also allow your business to have the manpower in dealing with incoming calls at different time intervals.

Schedule Adherence

Additionally, encourage your call center agents to follow their schedules. It’s no use providing a defined schedule for their breaks when they don’t follow it.

This can be done by putting up a timer once they log off for a break so they know how long they have left and can come back to their workstation on time.

Clear after-call work processes

Another quick tip that works is to establish a routine after-call work process.

An after-call work involves everything that an agent does upon each end of the call, such as writing down notes, updating an account, and getting ready for the next call.

Creating a clear routine of the processes when a call is ended will make your agents more efficient. They can quickly get back to the queue to receive their next caller, improving service level.

Your next step

The service level is going to be an important performance target that your business needs to achieve consistently.

Making the above small changes in the way that your call center organization works can greatly and positively impact your service level.

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Bringing Out the Best Customer Service from Your Representatives on the Phone

Customer Service

Customer ServiceMultiple studies have proven with little room for doubt that great customer service is the key differentiator in managing a successful business.

One such study was made by Dimensional Research in 2013, showing that 62 percent of B2B customers made more purchases when they receive excellent customer service.

This only goes to show that having a great product doesn’t count for much if customer relationships are not being well-managed.

So it only makes perfect business sense to ensure that your contact center department has on hand dedicated and skilled call center agents.

Here are some great suggestions to bring out the best customer service from your call center agents.

1. Hone your call center agents’ soft skills

“Soft skills” can be difficult to quantify, but they can spell the difference between a happy customer and one who leaves for a competitor.

To put it simply, “soft skills” play a crucial role in ensuring that customer interactions are always positive.

According to SurveyMonkey, the following are essential traits call center agents should have to keep clients satisfied and happy with the service.

  • Empathy, patience, and consistency. Agents should communicate with a sense of urgency and maintain a good temperament at all times even if the client is making it difficult for them.
  • Adaptability. The ability to handle any situation or issue, however unforeseen or unique, is a valuable attribute ensuring that customer satisfaction is met and exceeded.
  • Clear communication. Unclear or incoherent communication makes it difficult for both the agent and the client to work out a timely resolution.
  • Product knowledge. Customers look to customer service professionals for answers. If they’re not getting the information they seek, customer satisfaction drops drastically.
  • Can handle criticism. An agent can’t allow himself to feel slighted if an irate client is blowing steam over the phone. The happiness of the customer is always the goal.

2. All communication channels are operating at peak efficiency

These days customers are more comfortable doing business with companies that offer multiple channels for communication. We are, after all, living in the age of omnichannel retailing.

These channels include email, phone, social media accounts, and the “Contact Us” function on your official website.

By doing periodic checks to ensure that all dedicated channels are working at the optimal level, customers who need help are not left out in the cold and are therefore happier for it.

Moreover, the burden on your call center is vastly reduced, resulting in productive and pleasant customer interactions.

2. Implement a vigorous feedback system

Great companies treat customer service as a continuous learning process.

Every industry is susceptible to change, and companies who don’t update their customer service processes accordingly run the risk of becoming stagnant in the long run.

Before you know it, common issues go unnoticed and bad habits fester.

The solution? Set up a robust feedback system to gather quality feedback from your customers.

Options for gathering customer feedback include:

  • Phone survey (usually at the end of every call)
  • Email survey
  • “Contact Us” page from company website

Gathering feedback from customers creates opportunities in determining the strengths and weaknesses of your call center operations, providing key insights on how to maintain and improve customer service.

4. Improve employee engagement

Many companies are providing their employees with a supportive environment and a positive work culture to become successful.

The reason for this is simple: happy and highly-engaged customer service reps are more likely to give customers a positive experience in every interaction.

So, how exactly can you increase engagement among employees?

For starters, you have to take steps to ensure that working conditions, compensation structure, career advancement opportunities, etc. are meeting or exceeding industry standards.

An Addendum

Your customer service representatives probably know more about your customers than anyone else, so it only makes perfect business sense to invest in them.

A fierce commitment to bringing out the best in them can go a long way into pushing your business and brand forward.

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5 Best Practices in Earning Positive Customer Satisfaction Consistently

Customer Satisfaction

Customer SatisfactionIf there is a key performance indicator in the call center industry that can easily top all others, it would be customer satisfaction.

For one thing, the customer satisfaction metric can very well be the measure of how your customers perceived the overall quality of service that they received from your support team. If they perceived the support that they garnered as air-tight, then you can bet that your customer satisfaction would easily skyrocket.

Usually, the data is gathered through surveys given to customers right after their interaction with your team. The survey can be conducted through phone calls, emails, or online forms (among other things).

Here are five best practices that you can use to get a positive customer satisfaction rating consistently.

Improve service level

One of the best ways to keep a positive customer satisfaction is to have an amazing service level.

From a bird’s-eye view, the service level is the length of time that your customers wait from the time they call until an agent picks up the call.

By striving to cut their waiting time, the faster that they can get their issue resolved and the quicker they can get off the phone.

Under-promise but over-deliver

Another great tip is to under-promise but over-deliver. This is the secret of many successful organizations.

You do this by setting your customers’ expectations, then doing everything you can to deliver better results than what you promised.

For example, when your customers are told that the order is to be shipped in three days, you can surprise them by shipping their purchase in one or two days.

Fulfill unstated needs

There are many things that are important to your customers that they do not verbalize during their interaction with your team. These are often called “unstated needs.”

For example, a customer who is paying a bill over the phone or by sending in a check can benefit from an auto-debit arrangement. That way, their bills get paid automatically saving them time.

You can teach your agents to find ways to identify and fulfill your customers’ unstated needs.

Callback

Another great way to improve your customer satisfaction is by making a callback.

This is appropriate when the call was cut off unexpectedly, when things did not end well, or when issues are left unresolved.

A callback makes your customers’ life easier as it saves them a whole load of time waiting again on the phone and they can to talk to an agent who already knows their issue.

Personalized interaction

The last technique to get positive customer satisfaction is by building a human connection.

Your customers don’t want to hear a canned response from your support team. Instead, they want to be able to speak to someone who is not only capable of resolving their issues, but also someone who understands their situation as well.

That being said, train your agents to polish their communication skills and to develop a personable character to make each interaction they make with their callers a personalized, productive, and a meaningful one.

Conclusion

All the above tips have one thing in common: they are all about walking the extra mile for your customers.

By making sure that they have great service experience with your call center agents, you can raise your likelihood of being able to consistently earn positive customer satisfaction.

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4 Training Techniques to Help Your Call Center Employees be Better Salespeople

Call Center Employees

Call Center EmployeesSelling is not an easy job. Your call center employees not only need to say the right things, but they need to be also persuasive to close as many sales opportunities as possible.

As a business owner, do you wish that you can do more to build up their confidence in selling?

Here are four training techniques that will help your call center employees to be better salespeople.

Improving their knowledge of your company’s offerings

One of the biggest mistakes in sales training is how product knowledge seems to be under-estimated.

The truth is, your call center employees need to be the experts in your company’s offerings so they can answer any possible questions your customers will ask.

Thus, your training techniques must include ample time in making them learn the ins and outs of your products and services. In turn, they will gain more confidence in carrying a sales conversation.

Sell the benefits rather than the features

Product knowledge is just half of the story.

To become better salespeople, your call center employees must learn how to position features of your products or services in a way that encourages purchasing interest. In short, they need to know how to sell the benefits of what you offer.

That’s what is called features versus benefits.

While a feature describes what your offering can do, a benefit is about connecting with the need of your buyers.

For example, instead of saying that a camera has X amount of gigabytes of memory, sell instead that it can store over a thousand pictures of their most important memories.

In your training then, encourage them to come up with a benefit for each of the features of your offerings.

Handling objections

Many call center employees, especially those without any sales experience, would not like selling because of rejection. However, rejection is part of the game. Not every pitch can convert into a sale. Therefore, train them to have a positive, winning mindset.

Additionally, teach them how to deal with people turning down their offer by learning how to handle objections.

You can do this by listing down all possible scenarios that customer will decline the offer and write down good rebuttals to persuade them to change their mind.

Assumptively close the sale

Another effective training technique in helping your call center employees to be better salespeople is learning how to assumptively close.

Assumptive close means that you assume your buyer is about to make a purchase. Rather than ask, “Are you interested in our products?”, inquire instead, “How many units would you want us to ship to your address?”

The assumptive close encourages buying signal and creates a sense of urgency in the sales pitch.

Wrapping it all up

You can bring all the above sales training techniques together through role-plays.

Through role-playing, you allow them to practice different sales scenarios as well as use new and suggested spiels so they can work on how to speak persuasively. You can also provide valuable tips and give helpful feedback.

By giving them the chance to practice, you are ensuring that they can apply what they learned and become better salespeople when they go back taking calls.

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