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Call Center Agent Training

Most Effective Ways to Turn an Irate Customer into a Happy One

Irate Customer
Irate Customer
© ArtFamily / Dollar Photo Club

Philippine call center agents will always encounter angry customers, especially in an inbound call center setting. Even companies with the excellent customer service and product line encounter irate customers on a day to day basis and it is very important to fix the problem immediately.

Here are proven and tested ways to appease irate customers.

Apologize

Apologizing sincerely is the best way to express regret over the incident. In cases such as natural calamities or delays because of third party vendors, agents should always make sure to apologize even if it is not their fault and find a way to solve it. An apology should contain empathy that tells them they are being listened to, their importance and that the company is on their side. Learn to earn the customers trust as well.

Assessment

Assess the customer’s problem by asking what it is all about. Let them talk about their issue before asking any questions. If you question about their capability to fix it before they could explain further, the caller might see it as an insult instead of assistance.

Settlement

Earn back a customer’s loyalty and trust by always giving them something extra. Customers have gone through a lot which costs a lot of time. The least you can do is to extend an extra pleasant customer experience and service for them.

Follow up

Problems and fixes will vary according to the situation, but after-service should be done regardless of how small the problem is.

Customer service does not end after the product has been replaced or when the service is troubleshooted. It is important to make sure that the customer is satisfied after providing the initial customer service. There are three ways to facilitate after-service.

• Promptly – Following up promptly shows an agent’s sincere concern for the customer. This practice should be done if the problem has been transferred to another representative or escalated to another department.

• In-house Update – The call center agent should follow up within departments about the concern of the customer.

• Finalization – Conclude the transaction with a formal letter of agreement or a call that signifies the stability of a client relationship. This approach assures the customer that the problem has been solved already.

Do not forget to keep records of all the transaction so it will be easier to pull them out if another situation arises.

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Ways to Reduce Hold Time and Dropped Calls in Call Centers

Dropped Calls
Hold Time
© Vladislav Kochelaevs / Dollar Photo Club

It is a customer’s worst nightmare to be put on hold. Callers who seek out the assistance of call center agents are in a hurry and want solutions fast, which is why every second matters. “Please hold” are two words that can severely  damage the customer experience. At times, it can also raise tempers up. In worst cases, many of these calls result in hang ups or abandonment.

A customer’s problem determines the amount of patience he has on the phone. It is less likely for a caller to hang up if the issue is believed to be unresolvable without the aid of an inbound call center agent. Dropped calls are usually the result of callers who have found a solution while waiting in queue. A BPO with high dropped call rates does not look good to potential clients. Instead of using the dreaded phrase “please hold”, give the customers other options that they can choose from.

Easy DIY Options

Easy and self-servicing solutions are more convenient than letting customers wait on the phone. Examples are mobile apps, FAQ pages, and even video tutorials. With these easy-to-use applications, customers are able to do things themselves, and at the same time, rid the call center of abandoned call volumes.

Mobile and Desktop Channels

Not all customers are comfortable talking on the phone. Open non-voice channels such as email, social media (Facebook and Twitter), live chat and even text messaging. This can also be a great option for customers to contact again after the call has been ended without the issue first being resolved.

Always Perform Callbacks

It is always appreciated when customer service representatives call back when they’ve promised to do so. Callbacks are not only limited to phone calls, but are also applicable when a follow up is done through email. This method reassures clients that their concerns are not neglected. It shows that the service provider cares and chooses to fix the issue even outside the first transaction.

A Call center that truly cares for its customers will always provide excellent customer service. Pleasant customer experiences leads to a good reputation, and most importantly, repeat business.

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Effects of Good Communication Lines in a Call Center

Communication Lines
Communication Lines
© UMB-O / Dollar Photo Club

Solid relationships are built through good communication. In a Philippine call center, it is very important that communications are kept clear as to maintain a sense of efficiency and urgency. The opportunity to communicate with colleagues leads to better teamwork and even increased productivity rate. Here are the benefits of having good communication in the workplace.

Promotes real and engaging conversations

Technology has enabled people to communicate even better with almost everyone around the globe. However, its effect on society has made real live conversations a thing of the past. When call center outsourcing encourage employees to have face-to-face conversations such as meetings and coaching. Though effective tools that enhance communication is very important, having real interaction helps agents in dealing with customers as they practice their interpersonal skills. Sending emails and chat messages are the primary tools of BPO employees to communicate. These types of technology are essential when it comes to keeping up with different time zones and a fast paced environment. However, real conversations are important to build rapport among co-workers.

Acceptance of Constructive Criticism

Coaching agents not only improves their performance but as well as gives the opportunity for employees to speak out about their performance. Therefore, it will improve their communication skills. Assessment should be concise and encouraging. Generic sounding comments will most likely not have an impact on employees. Constructive criticism should be given for inbound and outbound call center agents to improve and realize their mistakes.

Improves Listening Skills

Agents who constantly exchange feedback become good listeners in the process. An employee with good listening skills can help delegate accurate information within the workplace.

Philippine BPO centers that improve communication channels have employees who are more productive and motivated. When agents have the freedom of professionally communicating with each other, teams become stronger and will give better performance results.

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Managing the Effects of Stress in a Call Center

call center
Stress in a Call Center
© WavebreakMediaMicro / Dollar Photo Club

Stress is a common experience in any workplace and there are many factors that contribute to it. Meeting deadlines, shifting schedules or the pressure to make sure that customer concerns are met while keeping metrics high are only some of those stress contributors.

Call centers are the most affected by this kind of stress, having a negative effect on their performance and attitude if it is not addressed. Bothered employees will not be productive, or as productive as they can be.

In order to help address the stressful situations at your call center, learn to manage the stress with these tips.

1. Productivity

Stress is the number one cause for a decline in efficiency. Agents who are stressed are not able to focus and will not perform well. There will also be more absences and tardiness. Help by trying to understand what might have caused such stress and figure out solutions together.

2. Customer Experience

Employees who bring their personal problems at work become stressed and grumpy. When this happens, the customers are the first ones who get to notice. Avoid having low customer service ratings by reminding agents to leave their worries behind and just work pleasantly. Motivational activities are also a great way to improve their mood prior to taking calls.

3. Resignation

Exhausted agents often think about resigning. The effects of stress are physical, mental, emotional and even psychological. When employees are burned out, all they want to do is quit. Avoid increased tension by providing them a healthy work environment to balance their professional and personal life.

4. Expenses

The cost of replacing agents are expensive. Advertising, hiring, training and paying for premiums are all put to waste if an employee quits right away. High turnover rates are also a sign of poor management. Avert the frequency of replacing agents by offering newly hired employees with benefits and a working environment that they were promised with.

An office environment is made better by creating a positive work-life balance atmosphere for everyone. Agents are more productive when they are excited about going to work and concerned with operations and each other. A call center that does not have constant employee turnover will have a happy work environment since new agents and tenured ones are able to get acquainted even more.

Call Center agents work in a stressful industry and it highly affects the customers if they are stressed. It is essential for management to look after the level of stress in the office for everyone’s sake.

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Lifestyle Change for Philippine Call Center Agents

Lifestyle change
Lifestyle change
© Gajus / Dollar Photo Club

According to a study conducted by Nielsen Philippines, the cumulative compensation amount of BPO employees is about P250B annually. Call Center agents are paid more than most Filipino employees that are working in a different industry. As a matter of fact, call center professionals have become key to the growth of middle class communities in the country. Aside from that, the spending habits of those working at call centers are also different than of the non-BPO industry employee, they tend to spend more.

The reason why call center employees spend so much is that they earn more than the average Filipino employee. They alter their lifestyle to go with the demands of what they do which results to changing their consumption and purchasing habits. An example would be that of a Philippine call center‘s dress code. Instead of wearing casual clothes or company provided uniform, most employees have to purchase the latest trends to look good while working. Why? Because it boosts self esteem and confidence, which is very important when talking to clients; and because everyone in the area dresses nicely, and even tries to imitate America’s seasonal outfits.

Another lifestyle changing factor is the way these individuals consume. Since outsourcing companies are strategically located in or near commercial and retail districts, call center agents have the tendency to patronize the nearest and even most expensive establishments to get their coffee, breakfast or alcohol fix. Although call center employees are paid well for their hard work, most of them only consume processed and pre-packed meals during their breaks such as canned goods, fast food, biscuits, and chips. According to a recent survey, call center agents consumed these staples because it is the easiest to prepare and it is cheap, they’d rather spend their money elsewhere.

What kind of things you might ask? Designer coffee, weekly out of town trips, after-shift bar outings, pending loan bills, neglected credit card fees, and the latest in technological gadgetry. Mostly things that they could not afford but have always wanted when they were not yet working in a call center.

Call center professionals were also asked if they could actually afford these little luxuries, or do they only buy them for fulfillment and to keep up with trends and peers? Sadly, most of them said the latter.

Compared to the rest of the working population, those in call centers generally spend more. The only advantage is their contribution to the economy, but what about the concept of prioritizing? Is it not as important as it used to be anymore?

How has working in a BPO changed your lifestyle? Let us know in our comments section!

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Reasons to Take Your Philippine Call Center Job Seriously

Call Center Job
Call Center Job
© alexskopje / Dollar Photo Club

Being an outbound call center agent is one of the most sought after positions in the Philippine BPO industry as well as being an inbound call center agent. Although the attrition rate is reportedly said to be high, the number of applicants who apply for a Philippine call center job has never declined.

On a typical weekday, over a hundred job applicants that include students, new graduates, career shifters and the unemployed line up early to try their luck at applying in a call center facility and start their new career through the initial step which is the recruitment process. But sadly, not everyone passes even the first stage. There are many factors to remember when applying for a Philippine call center job and the most important thing to keep in mind is that a call center facility is not a place to look for temporary employment and wait out time.

For most job applicants, seeking employment at a BPO facility is only transitory as they wait for nursing board exam results, an opportunity abroad that may or might not arrive and all the wrong reasons that will never include career growth and development. If you think about it, there is so much more than just momentarily working as a call center agent; when taken seriously, a career in the call center can bring you more than just employment but as well as financial growth, opportunities and even managerial positions that you can never seek elsewhere given your occupancy and age. So before you plan on going through the long recruitment process and plotting out your tenure at only six months, you might seriously want to consider these reasons on why you should take your call center job seriously.

  • The Philippine call center is only a very small percentage of  industries that can start you off with more than the minimum wage even if you only completed two years of college regardless of your academic course. Your salary doesn’t also depend on your connections (unlike many Philippine offices) with the management since legitimate call centers are based in the United States and have standardized pay.
  • Your promotion, evaluation and overall career growth will depend on your work performance. So it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, trendy or timid and what your gender orientation is; everything will be calculated accordingly by how you work. If you do not strive hard, you will never earn your bonuses and what not regardless of how good looking you are or how long you’ve been working there. In fact, there are many new call center agents that earn higher than those that have long been tenured because they perform better.

These are only few of the many reasons why working at a call center in the Philippines is better and should be taken seriously. Because if you don’t, you will end up applying and working at every facility which eventually makes you lose all your credibility. So step up and work hard at where you are.

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Setting Your Goals in a Philippine Call Center Environment

Setting Your Goals
Call Center Environment
© Grasko / Dollar Photo Club

Do you remember the days when you were still in school? And your parents used to ask you, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” you may have mentioned several profession titles like being a lawyer, a teacher, a hotelier, an engineer or even a doctor. But these days, there are more options as to being a licensed professional since there are a lot of BPO companies available.

You may have once thought of a clear and bright future but all you ever did was plan for your career. Most job seekers all want the same things; a job that pays well that allows you to earn loads of money so you can settle down in the big city, with a lifestyle that makes a statement to family and friends. But as you all know, it’s not that easy to attain unless you work hard.

Attaining success and making your job the right career requires hard work and sacrifice. You should spend some time to make sure that you are crystal clear about what you want in your working life. In addition to that, your career goal should be one that you truly want and not what others want for you. This is important because you will not be truly happy and fulfilled if you are doing it just to please somebody else. Most importantly, you should have a convincing reason why you must achieve this career goal. However, there may be times that you find yourself striving to move forward but getting nowhere instead. Remember, whatever your personal barriers to career growth and development, you can overcome these obstacles. Anyone who sets goals, creates a timeline for success, has adequate support, and strives for excellence can prevail over these barriers to achieve the success that all people deserve. Like your goals, only you can decide which ones to believe in and pursue.

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Philippine Call Center: Dealing with Difficult People at Work

Philippine Call Center
Philippine Call Center
© kyo / Dollar Photo Club

When you start working in Philippine call center or any establishments, have you ever felt intimidated by your co-workers? Actually, this is just a normal thing that happens to anybody whenever they find a new job. It’s a fact that finding a new job is difficult but what might be even more difficult is figuring out how to get used to the new environment that they are working in. Dealing with difficult people is one of the most challenging aspects in workplaces. It may also be a very emotional issue that every time you become upset, in despair, angry, or hurt due to the untoward behavior of a coworker, there becomes a moment in which you feel like giving up at work.

Engage in communication

Effective communication is always important. Many times, an argument will develop because of communication breakdowns. When someone is talking, listen carefully and make sure you understand that person’s point before you respond. Likewise, make sure the other person understands your own point.

Recognize and respect qualities

Keep in mind that all employees are valuable assets in the business community whatever they are like. Each one has an important role to play.

Use a learning mindset approach

Approach each interaction with an open mind—avoid making decisions or predictions before you start. Really listen to what the other person has to say and remain open to their viewpoint. When people feel your support, they will be more willing to work with you.

Don’t be a difficult person yourself

It is easy to identify someone else being difficult. But, how many times do you look in the mirror and acknowledge that you are the one being difficult. Know thyself and recognize what triggers your own responses.

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Philippine Telemarketing: Adapting to Night Shift Work

Philippine Telemarketing
Philippine Telemarketing
© leungchopan / Dollar Photo Club

While everyone else calls it a day, Philippine call center agents are just starting theirs. This is how it is when you work in the inbound or outbound call center.  Working the night, or graveyard, shift can change your life in many ways; you need to learn to sleep in the day, find new ways to keep yourself alert, your body’s rhythms and hormones can begin to shift, and eating takes on a whole new set of challenges.

Sleep is one of the most important gifts you can give your body. But you are fighting your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle by staying up through the night, and sleep loss can be dangerous. Even if you are sleeping during the day instead of the night, you still need an average of eight hours to keep your body functioning properly. Go to sleep as soon as you can after work. Relax in a warm bath and then hit the bed. It’s also important to make your room as dark as possible and avoid the overuse of sleep aids.

Eating healthy when your timetable seems so backwards is difficult. To maintain a nourishing diet, it’s vital to adjust your meal routine around your schedule. Do not skip meals. To avoid pumping in empty calories from vending machines or fast food, plan ahead. It is easy to eat to pass the time, but you’ll gain weight this way. Bring a healthy meal with you to work. Drink lots of water. Sufficient water in the body improves alertness. Limit your consumption of caffeinated drinks. Consume no caffeine at least 4 hours before sleeping. Cut down on your alcohol intake, especially before sleep. Alcohol usually induces sleep, but it reduces the quality of sleep.

Proper sleep and a healthy diet are especially important for night shift workers. Treat your body right so you can withstand the challenges of working in call center.

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Happy Employees Provide Great Customer Service

Great Customer Service
Great Customer Service
© Andres Rodriguez / Dollar Photo Club

In light of today’s economic setting, it’s more important for companies to have happy and productive employees. Your business is only as successful as its staff; therefore, it is of utmost importance that you develop a positive work culture in your business.

Happy employees are any business’ best asset. However, keeping them happy in any economy is hard work. If the workplace is stressful, employee production goes down. Happy employees are satisfied and feel a sense of accomplishment in their work. They like themselves and what they do, and find satisfaction from their work. The best employees prefer to work for companies that provide the type of exceptional value that creates customer loyalty, thus, creating loyalty has become the toughest test for leadership in Philippine call center. Great customer service depends on the people providing that service.

They have to be willing to serve well. They have to be inspired to go beyond what is their responsibility, in other words, they have to be treated well.  When workers feel that they are a dynamic and essential part of the team, they are more productive and willing to go the extra mile for customers and co-workers. A positive work environment is critical no matter how many employees you have. Therefore, give praise openly, set goals appropriate to the work, and always take your employees’ needs seriously. It is management that fosters the work atmosphere so they are responsible for conducting things in a way that helps raise people’s spirits.

A company will have strong customer service if it has strong leadership, and the commitment that this leadership conveys. When you have a happy and productive workforce that is eager to contribute, your company can weather any storm.

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