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The Fundamentals of Empathizing with Your Customers

Empathizing with Your Customers

Empathizing with Your Customers

Being in customer service will often test your patience and your ability to remain calm. Case in point: entertaining calls from irate customers isn’t exactly the situation we hoped to be in.

And let’s admit it—sometimes it is tempting to dash our patience to the ground and just respond in a fit of anger.

On the other side of the spectrum—there’s empathizing. Instead of prematurely responding to your irate customer, equip yourself with the necessary skills and desire to genuinely empathize.

It’s a radical response, but once you are able to stitch empathy together with customer service, it can solve a tantamount of problems. As a matter of fact, it directly values the customer’s need to be acknowledged and respected.

If you find yourself incapable of putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, then you came to the right place! The goal of this article is to provide you with some helpful tips on how to empathize with your customers:

1. Listen

This is probably the most clichè piece of advice—but in all honesty, it all starts with listening. Misunderstanding stems from the inability of representatives to collect adequate information about the problem. Thus, take the time to actively listen and gather all the details. Don’t interrupt.

And another vital fact you need to know: Customers hate repeating themselves! According to a survey conducted by Accenture Global Consumer Pulse, 89% of customers find it frustrating to repeat their concerns. By listening, you can immediately resolve this issue.

Conveying empathy goes along the lines of “I want you to listen to what I’m saying and to not what you’re hearing.”

2. Validate

It is a fatal mistake to reject and invalidate your customer’s concerns. No matter how trivial the problem may seem to you, the fact that they are forwarding their requests means that it is a big deal. Customers would appreciate it if you would jump on board with the situation at hand.

For example, you may say “I understand how frustrating it is when your modem isn’t working.” instead of saying “That seems to be a recurring problem here. Did you plug it in?”. Not only will you sound distant with the latter, but you have also failed to acknowledge the customer’s problem.

3. Cooperate

Treat your customers as partners in coming up with solutions. Don’t sound distant and inattentive. Always remember that customer service is always about what you can do for the customer.

Your company can be a cut above the rest when you are able to work as a team with your customers. When customers start realizing that you are genuine about teaming up with them, trust is established. Here’s an interesting video that will teach you the importance of teaming up with your customers.

4. Affirm

Empathy is never fully materialized unless you can affirm what the other party’s concern is.

A great way to affirm and to combat the tension of dealing with an irate customer is repeating the concerns they have laid down. In this way, you are assuring your customers that you are fully present at the flight of their complaints. You can start your statements with:

  • If I heard it right sir/ma’am, your concern is…”
  • “Let me just confirm, you mentioned that…”
  • “Okay ma’am/sir, I have taken note of that, but let me just repeat them for your confirmation..”

Conclusion

Empathy is not just a social construct. It must be the very ground on which customer service stands on. Call us today to find out how we can help you optimize productivity, deliver a better customer experience and provide outsourced customer service.

© olly / Dollar Photo Club

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3 Tips to Personalize Your Customer Support

Personalize your customer support

Personalize your customer support

Researchers found that the waiters received a 24% increase on their tips just by offering mints to the customer along with the check. Read more about it here.

Pretty interesting, huh?

Of course, it wasn’t the mints that motivated the customers to give better tips. Rather, the results showcased the  potential power of personalized services to benefit all types of company.

Fortunately, call center companies are able to preserve that personal touch.

There are several up-to-date technology that automates services with the hopes of improving customer service for cost and time efficiency. However, technology can only do so much. Since customer concerns are diverse and unique, automated machines are limited in addressing them.

Therefore, you need to personalize your customer support. These 3 tips will help you with just that:

1. Incorporate features to your services.

The first step in personalizing your services is to incorporate features that will help you in achieving that. These features are for enhancing services, not replacing them.

Thanks to the advent of technology, you can integrate software systems into your services for a highly personalized customer-interaction. One example is CRM or Customer-Relations Management System. CRM is a commonly used platform that stores all customer information into a database.

As a result, when a customer contacts the center, agents can easily access information regarding the customer such as call history, demographics and preferences that will individualize your services.

2. Encourage an authentic dialogue.

The second step is crucial. Always remember that it is a must to engage with a customer as naturally as you can.

It is safe to assume that customers choose to contact call centers because they wish to talk to a human, not an automated machine. Thus, it is encouraged to engage in an unscripted and authentic dialogue with your customer.

Tip:

First, ask how the customer wishes to be addressed. This simple yet effective strategy will build rapport and a relationship with your customer.

Afterwards, ask questions regarding the customer’s concerns. Actively listen and take down notes so you can reaffirm or rephrase the customer’s request to confirm that you understood the nature of the problem.

At the very least, have your customers understand that you are authentic about providing resolutions.

When you personalize your customer support using this tip, your customers won’t feel like another number; or just another account that you are trying to service. They will feel important and valued, which is very important if you want to keep them.

3. Follow up using multi-channel system.

The last step is optional—but it is highly recommended if you want to provide exceptionally personalized services.

Once a call is ended, the interaction does not have to end there. Elevate the personalized experience by engaging in post-call services.

You can always provide follow up services via email or text messages. You can do this by:

  • Surveying for feedback regarding the prior call
  • Asking for suggestions
  • Recommending products that suit customer preferences

This can significantly boost customer retention rates and build brand loyalty.

Conclusion

As you have learned, a highly personalized customer service can go a long way. It fosters relationships with customers, builds loyalty and promotes genuine interaction.

The bottom line is—you don’t need to offer mints along with your services! Just follow this 3-step guide to improve your company’s bottom line. Call us today to find out how we can help you optimize productivity, deliver a better customer experience and provide outsourced customer service.

Photo courtesy – © md3d / Dollar Photo Club

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6 Tips for Training Your Call Center Agents

Call_Center_Agents

Call_Center_Agents

Remember that the competency of your call center agents can influence the success of your company. Keeping them stagnant, unrefreshed and thirsting for new ideas will only hinder excellency and will promote mediocrity.

Do you want to keep expanding your agents’ knowledge, skills and capabilities? Then you should be committed to training them frequently.

Training is a good investment that ensures growth within your company where you can see the results manifest tenfold.

Listed below are 6 great tips for training your customer service agents:

1. Mentor

The best form of training is mentoring.

In his TEDx talk, Tai Lopez explained the law of 33%. He says that a third of your time must be spent with people you can mentor and another third for those that can mentor you.

Unfortunately, a study conducted by Intradiem discovered that 80% of executives thought that their supervisors were not competent enough to coach call center agents.

Executives should realize the importance of mentoring. In order to implement competency from top to bottom, top management heads should devote a third of their time in training and mentoring supervisors for the cycle to continue down to the agents.

2. Differentiate low and high performers

Training is not a golden bullet that can hit all types of needs. Some call center agents will need a different type of training program apart from others.

One way of going about this is to identify your low and high performing agents. Set them apart and design a program for each. You can even be specific for low performers by identifying the key areas that need to be improved.

3. Introduce new ideas

As long as the world keeps spinning, new ideas will never die out.

Your company must be committed to learning best practices in the field and discovering new ideas from experts. Attend seminars or hire an organizational consultant that can bring in fresh takes that you might not know of yet.

Outsourcing is also a great way for acquiring new ideas for your company since external resources can help you see things in different perspectives.

4. Structured programs

In training, consistency and structure are factors that need to be considered. However, over 50% of call center supervisors fail to structure their programs.

Performance must be standardized, so in order to do this create a criteria or use metrics that you can implement to objectify your training goals.

5. Involve the customers

Training is a good avenue to re-evaluate your goals.

Remember what you’re here for—the customers. 

Gather all customer complaints, ratings and feedbacks, then interpret the data to get a better look at how customers perceive your services.

Even if the ratings are good, don’t be complacent! Continue to diversify your strategies because the customers’ needs are constantly evolving.

6. Follow up after training

The effectiveness of training will not reach its optimal level unless you see actual results. That is why your goals must be practical and attainable.

Try dividing your training sessions to target specific and actionable goals. After this, evaluate your employees in the workplace to see if they accomplished the objectives.

Conclusion

Maintain a working culture that centers on continuously evolving and improving is the best way to get the most out of your agents. Be committed to training and your company will definitely rise to the top!

© wellphoto / Dollar Photo Club

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These Tips Will Help Your Call Center Agents Sound More Confident

call center agents

call center agents

When you’re only targeting your audience’s auditory senses, conveying ideas can be quite difficult. It’s much easier to capture your audience’s attention when you have visual cues accompanying your speech, such as PowerPoint. 

It’s for this reason that the role of a call center agent can be quite taxing, and at times anxiety inducing. 

Many agents can sense the tension rising when making or receiving calls, and tend to worry if they’re choosing the right words or if their customers fully understand what they are talking about. An agent who comes across as confident however, has the ability to not only convey their message, but entice the customer to get involved in the conversation. 

Here are 5 tips that will help make your call center agents sound more confident:

1. Avoid Upspeak

Upspeak is the tone in our voice that comes across as questioning, or unsure. 

For example, if you are explaining the cost benefits of a product or service, you don’t want to ask the customer “does that sound good?” Remember, you are the service provider, so avoid taking a doubtful tone that seems like you’re looking for validation.

You also have to practice answering your customers in declarative tones, and end your statements with a resolved pitch. A confident tone will help you sound assertive and knowledgeable about your product.

2. Stand up

It’s perfectly fine to sit down while talking to a customer over the phone. However, we tend to feel too comfortable when slouching in our seats. Poor body posture will cause you to sound lazy over the phone and you will find it difficult to be vocal with your customer due to your reclined stance.

If you really want to sound confident and professional, sit up straight or better yet, stand. This will facilitate better blood circulation in your body, causing you to be more alert. Standing will not restrict the flow of oxygen into your lungs, this is the same reason singers stand up for better vocalization.

3. Slow down

Speaking fast doesn’t equate to being knowledgeable, in fact it does just the opposite. Talking fast can make you sound anxious, and in a hurry to get the call over with. You have to slow down and catch yourself.

Slowing down your speaking will benefit both you, and your customers. This will help reduce stuttering and will keep your thoughts organized. Plus, being aware of your pacing will ensure that your customers are actually listening. 

To get into the habit of talking slower, try opening your mouth and stretching your jaws before taking the customer’s call.

4. “Fake it till you make it”

What we say with our bodies is often more important than what leaves our mouths, and there are ways you can “fake” gestures to emphasize your message. During her TED talk, Psychologist Amy Cuddy proposes that body language can affect the way we think and act.

Even when your customers can’t see you at the other end of the line, act as if your customer is really in front of you.

While you may not always be feeling passionate about your message, you have to be genuine. Smile, assume a proper posture, and use body gestures like using your hands while  explaining yourself. It won’t be long before you start to notice your voice taking on the same expressive nature as your body. 

5. Mean it

According to vocal coach Matt Farnsworth, effective speaking is like a couple fighting. When in an argument, they don’t mix up their words, and clearly get their points across without hesitation.

It’s easier to speak up when we really know what we are talking about. Don’t overthink or elaborate your thoughts to sound fancy. The best way is to say what you mean and mean what you say, simple as that. 

What’s next?

If you are looking for a team of confident customer service agents to help you in providing your customers the best support, then you can contact us by using this this form.

© Photo Courtesy: s_l / Dollarphotoclub.com

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4 Common Mistakes that Telemarketers Commit and are Unaware Of

Telemarketers

image

If you aren’t familiar with the tricks of the trade of the telemarketing industry, the chances are good that you’ll find it to be quite a challenging task.

Even the first 20 seconds of the call is crucial as it can determine the entire course of the call. The first few seconds of the phone call can be a make-or-break deal for most telemarketers.

Just to make sure that you avoid the common pitfalls that most telemarketers make (but aren’t aware of), I’d like to share with you these mistakes:

1. Product-centric and not customer-centric

Understanding that your services should be centered around your customers and not on your products is the first step that will bind all things together in perfect harmony.

Most frontliners forget that aside from successfully closing the sales, what matters more is addressing what the CUSTOMER NEEDS.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte and Touche, they proposed that companies that are customer-centric are ahead by 60% in terms of profit as compared to those that are not.

Tip: Telemarketing is most effective when it is viewed as an opportunity to provide information and to address customer needs. Try seeing it in this light instead of seeing it as a sales call. What your customer needs should determine the action you are to take or propose.

2. You know nothing about your customer

There’s nothing wrong with gathering information prior to performing a sales call. This will even help you in analyzing what products would best fit the interests of your prospects.

To support this idea, 45% of online shoppers would revisit sites that recommend products according to their preferences. This goes to show that these websites used customer-related information to their advantage.

Tip: Your call should be highly personalized and crafted in a way that will meet your customer’s needs. You should obtain demographics, preferences, needs and other things to make your product relevant. Relate your services by drawing hints on what they might be looking for.

3. Unprecedented information

Usual scenario:
1. call up prospects
2. introduce once they pick up
3. get right down to business

A monologue that takes on this structure just makes the nature of the call intrusive and annoying, already taking into account that outbound calls are unsolicited. And in this case, first impression literally means everything.

Tip: Before you start offering information about the purpose of your call, it’s good to start off with statements that relate to your customers’ needs—which is exactly why you need to gather information about your prospect.

After which, you can ease through the conversation by presenting the value of the product/services you can provide.

4. Being passive

Most telemarketers would start feeling discouraged whenever a customer hints disinterest or is simply unavailable to take the call. The key here is to stay active by choosing to influence the situation. Being rejected is part of the equation but it will also challenge you to shift your mindset.

Tip: When customers are unavailable, never forget to offer a callback. Ask them what time would be most favorable for them. Assume that they would agree to your proposition.

What’s next?

 

Are there questions or suggestion that you’d like to share? If you answered that question with a “yes”, then please share your ideas in the comments section below.

© Photo Courtesy: Bahrialtay / Dollarphotoclub.com

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Why Taking a Break is Important for Work Efficiency

Work Efficiency

image

Studies have concluded that taking a break in between heavy tasks is a healthy habit that leads to work efficiency and productivity.

Why am I talking about this?

Simple. There are those who think that working themselves dry is the best way to be productive and to get more results.

Apparently, if you’re truly serious about getting things done, you need to make sure that you’ll take the time to have a break. This can drastically increase your work efficiency since you’ll tend to avoid firefighting, and the quality of your work remains at a decent level.

So what are the detrimental effects of depriving yourself from break time?

1. Negative implications on health.

Have you ever been so busy attending to the large influx of calls that you forgot to take your lunch? Or you were too focused on getting a task done that you haven’t noticed that you actually feel tired?

This is due to the fact that when your brain is shifted to “focus-mode” which gives exceptional importance to a specific task, it disregards all unnecessary information that may disrupt you—sort of a ‘mind over matter’ thing.

Forgetting to take a break will take its toll on your mind and body. This could lead to hyperacidity, anxiety, fatigue, and mental exhaustion.

2. Loss of attention.

According to a study conducted by Professor Lleras, results have intriguingly suggested that the absence of break intervals in between tasks actually causes loss of focus since the brain was not made to sustain prolonged attention.

This is due to a phenomenon called Habituation which simply means that when we are constantly attending to a stimulus, we become too familiar with it thus, the brain no longer finds the need to process it. For more information, read this.

Now that you know the negative effects of break time deprivation, you should take a break by:

1. Reassessing your goals.

Are you still accomplishing your task efficiently or are you just another zombie that just painstakingly complies to get the job done?

Since we lose focus when we attempt to switch to ‘binge-concentration’ mode when peak hours rush in, it is important to give yourself a moment of reprieve so you don’t lose sight of your goals.

2. Doing something productive.

Walk around, eat something, talk to your coworkers, close your eyes, relax to soothing music or take a day-off—these are a number of ways of how you can spend your break time.

HOWEVER, allotting your time on Social Media in between work hours is counterproductive. In his article, David Rock mentioned that:
“Social media can be so rewarding, that it overwhelms our ability to focus on other things.”

3. Daydreaming.

As surprising as it may sound, taking a moment to daydream or to ‘zone out’ is needed to get the job done.

We learned that the brain is unable to register meaningful information when it is switched to focus mode for long periods of time. Our brains need periods of rest too! And the best way to do that is to pause and daydream.

When we wander, we actually stimulate more activities in the brain which in turn helps us in accomplishing tasks. For more information on daydreaming, refer to this article.

Conclusion

Don’t feel guilty! Learn how to take a break. It’s exactly what you need for better work efficiency.

Are you looking for excellent outsourced customer service? Contact us now.

Photo courtesy – © Gajus /Dollarphotoclub.com

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How to Apply the RADAR Technique in Telemarketing

Telemarketing

Telemarketing

The art of Telemarketing still remains tricky given the unpredictability of what could transpire during the call and the complexity of your customer’s needs. Even writing scripts can’t fully prepare you for what may happen during the phone call.

Carefully plotting the flow of your conversation in order to reach a successful close may come as a challenge when you are unable to fully grasp what your client truly needs. Luckily, there is a technique called RADAR that can serve as a guide in carefully addressing your customer’s concerns.

R- Establishing Rapport

There are no handshakes, eye contact and other body gestures in Telemarketing—so what are you left with? Fortunately, it is possible to establish rapport using your voice alone.

The key to this is to show authentic interest for your customers’ needs. During the call, it is recommended to avoid sounding distant and aloof. You have to see things according to your customer’s perspective. Actively involve yourself in your customer’s need to address a problem.

Rapport will set the tone for the entire duration of your call because it can determine the direction of the call. Establishing rapport is crucial when you aim at arriving at a successful close.

AD- Asking for Difficulties

People are wired to avoid difficulties at all costs.

Ask for the problems and inconvenience that your customers are experiencing—the more you emphasize the pressing issue that troubles them, the bigger the opportunity for you to enter into the picture and help in resolution.

Pinpoint the difficulties and list them down. These questions can give you a structure in listing your customers’ concerns:

1. What type of services does the client need?
2. What type of information does the client need?
3. What product is the customer looking for?

A- Affirmation

Customers have to know that their concerns aren’t falling on deaf ears. Writing down and highlighting their core concerns will help in wrapping up and bringing clarity for both you and your customer.

Keep up with your customer by taking down notes and clarifying their requests with questions like “If I understood you correctly sir/ma’am, you meant that ________?” or “Let me just repeat your concerns sir/ma’am, you mentioned that ______?”

This simple gesture is a way of confirming or validating your customers’ need to be heard and to be attended to. Repeating the main points implies that you are listening and taking the time to understand them.

R- Providing Results

Last but not the least is resolution. Once you have a firm grasp of what the problem/problems at hand, start offering insights and solutions like we do in customer service outsourcing in the Philippines.

You have to keep in mind that there are instances when customers will call about concerns that could be similar to others that you have encountered in the past. Therefore, you can categorize customer concerns under varieties of themes.

To save you from the time-consuming task of explaining yourself repeatedly, you have to be familiar with all kinds of customer concerns for you to provide solutions as quick as possible.

Conclusion

If you want close a call successfully, study and apply this technique! You would want to deliver superb customer experience by building trust and a service that centers on addressing needs like we so when outsourcing customer service in the Philippines.

Photo courtesty – © vdovichenkodenis / Dollar Photo Club

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4 Ways to Reducing Agent Attrition Rates

Agent Attrition Rates

Agent Attrition Rates

Frequently having agents walk out of the door can be indicative of the culture that they are accustomed to in their workplace.

A heavy workload with no rest intervals in between, a strict routine-based work pace and unrecognized performance are just some of the causes that can directly increase agent attrition rates.

With agents exiting the company, it becomes burdensome of having to replace them every now and then with no certainty of a sure-keep. Plus, you can risk valuable potentials in the process.

Here are 4 simple ways in which you can overcome this:

1. Preempting applicants

Starting right is one step in significantly decreasing the chances of agent turnover in the future. The standards of hiring and recruitment must be enhanced in order to reel in people who are in it for the long haul.

Providing a Realistic Job Preview or communicating what you expect from an applicant can assure you that both parties meet in a middle ground.

Make sure you are transparent with what you expect and what you are looking for. Applicants need to know that you are after someone who can commit to the job and not just flake out at any moment.

2. Training and Monitoring

One reason why agents choose to leave is because there is no upward direction to their knowledge, skills and abilities.

According to studies, employee dissatisfaction is not derived from a minimal pay but from a lack of growth in the company.

Thus, you have to be involved in the performance level of your agents and you can do so by monitoring and identifying the weak areas that need to improved.

Training is beneficial to the employees and to the growth of your company. It is an avenue of developing skills and engaging actively with your agents.

Training can also significantly reduce stress because it allows employees to exercise group dynamics and to offer productive solutions to problems being experienced in the workplace.

3. Motivation and feedback

Make sure you provide constructive feedback to your agents and recognize those who have excellent performance records. Motivate them by giving incentives and words of praise.

Also, feedback should be two-way. You can ask your employees of the difficulties they are going through or what they can suggest to improve the system.

Agents have to be viewed as valuable resources by involving them in the actions taken as a company to boost their commitment.

4. Opening opportunities

Open new opportunities for your agents.

They might feel tied down by just sitting on their desks all day. What you can do is challenge their capabilities by assigning tasks that go beyond their comfort zone.

Constantly offer promotions to motivate agents to work harder and improve their customer relations. They have to know that they can experience new and exciting horizons when they stay in your company.

Conclusion

Imposing an environment that values interaction and growth can definitely put weight on commitment of your agents.

Don’t let a substandard culture hinder the growth of your company and your employees.

Are you looking for a committed team that is customer-centric? Feel free to contact us!

Photo courtesty – © photoprodra / Dollar Photo Club

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How to Develop a Productive Agent Occupancy Rate

Productive

Productive

Just because your agents are busy, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are productive.

Agent occupancy rates are often taken as mere values that indicate the amount of workload agents are handling—the higher the occupancy rate, the higher the volume of calls are being attended to.

Plainly put, occupancy rates just show how busy your agents are. What it fails to measure is the overall agent effectivity in delivering quality services.

Having a high occupancy rate can bring about counterproductive results in your services. Aiming to hit an unrealistic value of 95% in your occupancy rate can cause several problems such as:

  • agent burnout
  • high agent turnover rates
  • lengthy and unproductive calls
  • low customer satisfaction

Here are 3 things you should keep in mind to create a productive occupancy rate:

Proper scheduling

Increasing the number of agents can be costly while decreasing it can minimize work output.

Therefore, you have to identify your peak and quiet hours to help you assign the proportion of agent-related activities. As much as possible, you have to avoid the tendency of having idle agents around.

During quiet hours, agents who are on standby should be assigned to return the calls of customers who were left to be given a callback.

Also, agents can make outbound calls and solicit customer feedback or suggest other related products or services to loyal customers.

Effective calling time

Handling time directly affects occupancy rates for customer service outsourcing in the Philippines—the longer the call time equates to a loss of opportunity to attend to other calls.

Moreover, a lengthy call time is counterproductive since it requires an investment of time which customers find inconvenient on their part. Customers look for services that are quick and easy.

However, shortening handling time to increase occupancy rate is not the solution to the problem either. Imposing time-pressure can decrease the quality of your services.

Therefore, it is recommended to channel calls to the appropriate agents for lesser handling time to ensure both customer satisfaction and quality service.

Outsourced services

During peak hours, the ratio of customers on queue and customers waiting for an available agent to attend to their call is high and will lower your customer service quality.

Not only that, a high volume of inbound calls will exhaust your agents. At all costs, you have to avoid poor performance especially during demanding seasons.

Having enough resources will equip you in solving the dilemma.

Outsourcing agents is cost-effective and helpful because you can share the influx of calls with external resources and they can bring in new ideas to develop your services.

Conclusion

True enough, good customer service should excel in quality before quantity. What good is a high occupancy rate when you discredit the condition of your agents and the satisfaction of your customers?

With the right strategies and adequate resources, your company will not only have a high occupancy rate but a productive one at that.

Make sure that your services are more inclined to be at its optimal shape rather than focusing on a big number of headcount.

© Yury Zap / Dollar Photo Club

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