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Customer Support

The Formula to Creating a Team that Provides Consistent Quality Customer Support

Consistent Quality Customer Support

Consistent Quality Customer Support

Rewarding the individual members of your teams is great in terms of improving employee performance and retention, but if you want to build a great team, you need to focus on incentives that reward the team as a whole, or, that gain recognition within the team.

What the research tells us about teams

There is now solid research from Google’s Project Aristotle that tells us that good, cohesive teams outperform stiffer, less integrated teams across the board.

The research also suggests that there are two primary qualities of a good team. A commitment to inclusion, allowing all members to participate, and a quality they call “average social sensitivity,” which is the awareness of how team members are participating, feeling, and reacting.

Average social sensitivity is also related to emotional intelligence (EQ), read more about that here.

How can you build a sense of mutual respect and belonging?

One of the best tools a manager has for building a team is a system of rewards or incentives. The rewards can range from branded items of apparel or personal use, such as coffee cups, pens, and notebooks, to favored spots on bulletin boards, parking spots, etc.

The key is that these rewards are more than just financial benefits, they provide recognition. Employees often prefer recognition of their accomplishments to pure financial gain, and this recognition also supports their roles in the team.

Rewarding the team as a whole

One strategy to promote the team is to provide rewards that apply to the team as a whole. If the team achieves certain goals, then the whole team goes out to dinner, or they get a spread of pictures on the company bulletin board.

Of course this can promote both good and bad team behavior. If the team perceives itself as being in a competition, sometimes this can lead to resentment against the members that are perceived to be weaker, or holding it back.

Incorporating some training on team dynamics at this point can be an effective way to change that behavior.

Allowing the team to nominate a member

A method that can increase the tendency of a team to value its own members is to allow it to nominate those members for various prizes in the organization. If the members have distinct roles, the prizes can rotate through these roles. This process can invest the whole team in the success of the member whose role can be nominated at that particular time.

Providing recognition within the team

Some teams will intuitively know to provide recognition to its own members whenever the team’s accomplishments are discussed. However, if a team has some members who stand out and shadow the others, the manager may need to take steps to recognize all the team members. Highlighting these contributions will bring the whole team up to a higher level.

Recognizing team along with members in organization

Finally, it is important to recognize the team within the organization at large, specifically for being a good team. Though being recognized for performance metrics is also important, the way to spread the model of a good team using the behaviors of inclusiveness and mutual awareness is to reward the team specifically for these qualities.

These rewards can be in the form of paid retreats, dinners, or other group events. They provide an example for other teams, as well as showing specifically how other teams can achieve these same goals.

Conclusion

Developing the right kind of team is a great way to invest in the future of your business. We have a lot of experience in developing teams, contact us to find out more. Call us today to find out how we can help you optimize productivity, deliver a better customer experience and provide outsourced customer service.

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Why Metrics isn’t the End-all and Be-All of Providing Stellar Customer Support

Customer Support

Customer Support

The fast paced, data driven nature of the modern business means that it’s easy to focus only on the metrics and numbers of running a business. Terms like ROI (return of investment) and BPM (business process management) dominate the minds and discussions of business professionals, and while having proper measurements and metrics in place is certainly important to running a good business, the same thing doesn’t necessarily apply to good customer support.

The reason being? People aren’t numbers.

What makes good customer support?

There’s a lot that goes into effective customer support. But let’s talk about some of the key concepts of providing customer support, concepts that override metrics.

  • Staying after the sale. Even if you’ve sold a good product for your customer, they may have remaining questions or concerns. Even if they don’t, keeping open communication with a customer after they’ve already purchased your product shows them that you’re committed, and that fosters commitment from them as well.
  • Educating the customer. Think of the old “teach a man to fish” story. Don’t just give them the bare essentials to solve their problems – take the time and effort to make sure they have a good understanding of the solution that you proposed, so they can learn more and prevent further problems in the future. This is going above and beyond by most definitions, but when it comes to serving your customers, it’s doing your job.
  • Respect them as people. This means not wasting their time, being polite, and giving them choices on how to proceed.
  • Listen to what they have to say.

There’s more to what makes a good customer support, of course. However, I am confident that you have a better understanding of how it works right now. While none of these practices can be measured – they are just as important as any other “trackable” metrics. The “customer” in customer service is just as important as the “human” in human resources.

Metrics are still important for measuring certain aspects of performance, of course. Response time is important, as are experience ratings and resolution time. But it’s important to consider more than just your numbers when you’re working on your customer service solution.

What can I do to provide it to my customers?

All that being said, you’re likely left wondering what you can do to improve your customer service! To learn more about outsourcing customer service, read our blog  or contact us for a consultation. If you’re interested in outsourcing your customer service to skilled, experienced professionals, give us a call and let us know what we can to do to help you.

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How to Appease Your Callers When They’re Just About Ready to Explode

How to Appease your callers

How to Appease your callers

Scenario: Your customer is calling to complain about her cable subscription that has already  been paid for, but is not yet activated. She complied with all the required documents and paperworks, but a month has gone by with no cablemen knocking on her door.

It turns out, the problem lies in the mishandling of customer information. Due to the lack of coordination between the local office and the main hub, the customer database wasn’t updated.

Now that you are faced with a frustrated customer, how are you going to address the issue without sounding distant and tensed? How will you express your concern while remaining composed?

Under trying circumstances, the ability to defuse a challenging situation while demonstrating a healthy level of concern for your customers requires strategy, and a sound approach.

Here are some ways that you can show concern for your customers under challenging situations:

1. Empathize

Going back to the scenario explained above—what happens when the said customer who, out of frustration, starts speaking condescendingly towards you?

The very first thing you should do is to look at things objectively. And here comes the usual call to action: EMPATHIZE.

You can empathize with your customers without having to agree with them. You must only convey to your customer that she has every right to be upset.

As a service provider, you are sharing their pain, acknowledging their feelings and taking things professionally. You may say “I understand that this is a frustrating experience for you…”

2. Take responsibility and apologize

The example found above this article clearly shows that it is not the customer’s mistake. Now how can you take responsibility over the situation?

First, you can offer a sincere apology. Your customers will surely appreciate hearing this from your end. However, it shouldn’t just end with an apology. They are more inclined to receive resolutions rather than consolation.

Make sure that your customers can rest upon the fact that you are doing something about the issue at hand. You may say “We are currently fixing this issue. We are very sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused you.”

3. Express gratitude

Most customer service representatives miss out on the idea of expressing gratitude under challenging situations. You’re probably thinking “Why should I thank the customer for being frustrated?”

When your customer expresses dissatisfaction, you are given the perfect entry point to make things right. Take this is an opportunity to make your customer service resonate with your customers. Express your gratitude by saying “Thank you for forwarding this complaint to us…”

4. Involve them in the solution

Showing your concern can only go so far. Your customers must know that there is a solution to the problem. Explain in reasonable detail how you plan on addressing the problem and make sure that the solutions involve your customers.

Be specific with your solutions. You can even include the names of people who will be involved in solving the problem and the time-frame of how prompt you can resolve the issue.

What’s next?

Are you looking for a team of professional customer service agents who can help you with providing the best outsourced customer support? If you answered the question with a “yes”, then please contact us using this form. Cheers!

Photo courtesy – © olly / Dollar Photo Club

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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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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 customer support services, then you can contact us by using this this form.

© Photo Courtesy: s_l / 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.

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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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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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