Call center best practices: The Good, Bad and Ugly
Why are businesses advised to set up a call center? Why is it essential to implement the call center best practices? Surely, all customers should be happy dealing with your team via email or live chat or social media!
Have you ever wondered why people prefer making phone calls instead of emailing or chatting with a support team?
Especially when it’s on account of a negative experience—one that makes anyone anxious and impatient.
Well, that’s because when we are stuck in a situation, we are panicking and we need answers real quick. In addition to this, getting that bit of personal assurance from someone in flesh and blood—someone as human as we are gives that instant relief. A relief felt only over phone calls. A relief you can only provide by setting up your very own business call center.
Therefore, it becomes essential that we implement a viable call center for your business. There is numerous call center software available that can be used to engage with your callers. However, it is also vital that you follow certain call center best practices as it is very easy to gain as well as lose customers over phone calls. Voice conversations are more impactful, deep, and personal when compared to chat or email.
With your voice, you communicate much more than just the message.
The urgency in tone, the pulse of anxiety and the curiosity in questions get conveyed most effectively over phone calls. it’s only natural that most humans prefer phone calls over email or chat.
And, it was no different for me either.
Why implement best practices
On account of a damaged product delivered to me, I directly called the shopping site’s helpline.
As human as I am, every unattended ring added to my frustration. They finally answered my call after 40 long secs of navigating through their IVR.
But, to my pleasant surprise, by someone who addressed me by my first name, apologized for keeping me waiting and politely heard me out. Then he got all the required details from me and assured to call back in a day after resolving the issue.
Guess what? He did. Such a prompt follow up showed that as a brand they respected their customer’s time and money.
What started out as an impulsive, angry phone call, turned out to be a smooth, pacifying experience.
So if you are a business that strives for customer happiness, ensuring that your angry customer ends her phone conversation on a contented note will go a long way in cementing your relationship with her.
That’s undeniably why understanding what makes your customers happy is the first step to ace through your business’s customer communication.
Call center best practices — dealing with customers in the right manner!
Make sure every customer call counts positively 🙂
Resonate with the pulse of your customer, put yourself in their shoes and hear them out patiently. It’s sure to pay off in the long run.
This is what good phone calls should do.
Benefits of implementing call center best practices
The 7-step process in converting every caller to an evangelist
- Make the customer feel heard—thus giving them the confidence to call you anytime in the future.
- Promptly solve the customer’s issue—either a straightforward solution or at least a workaround.
- Make the customer feel valued—where they get to believe that their time, trust, money, and loyalty is respected.
- Keep the customer satisfied: The next time they talk about your brand or come across it anywhere, there should be a conscious grin :)—genuine and heartfelt!
- Help you grow: Keep in touch with your customers. Follow up regularly to check on them. Eventually, you’ll see yourself grow with their constructive suggestions.
- Gain customer’s loyalty: Set your standards high with the first impression you make over your phone calls. Connect to them at levels where they feel good about choosing your brand. Use your call to show them that it’d be the same positive experience on their next calls too. You’ll eventually build a long-term relationship.
- Amplify your brand’s value— by word of mouth and maybe some good reviews from these happy customers.
What might happen if you do not implement best practices
As a customer, all that one asks for is a decent, clear response when in need of assistance. The least is the phone calls to be attended. As a business, if you know this, you are pretty much covered on customer happiness(read as retention).
And, needless to say, if you are an emerging brand, there is no better channel to invest your effort in than phones, because customers call only when they need you most. And to be honest, you need them as much.
Now that you know what a positive effect good phone calls have on your business, you’ll obviously want every call to be a good one.
But what if the call was a total screw up? How do you think, it would reflect on your brand?
Unlike a good call experience which might bring a decent amount of customers and revenue to your business, bad experiences don’t add up that way—its effects are exponential. It’s sure to hit your business hard and take you some colossal efforts to get back up.
What you lose with one bad phone call might take you tens of good ones to compensate.
So, not to fall prey to one, you first need to understand what makes up a bad call experience that could possibly hurt your business. It’ll be a good start to know what not to do while on a customer call.
What not to do in your call center — how a bad call center can wreck your business
What if my call hadn’t been answered. Or my call was transferred aimlessly, only to be disconnected finally. I would never trust that brand in the future to fulfill my needs.
They would’ve lost a customer, leading me to their competitor and of course to share negative feedback to my close circle.
As much as phone calls can be a backbone to the success of your business, it can turn messy if not managed well. That’s why the least expected is for you to attend the phone calls.
Poor communication or its lack thereof repels customers to a great extent.
We are taking a different approach. Instead of telling you what to do, we are going to tell you what not to do! Because every business has its own quirks and different levels of what is acceptable as a best practice in a call center. However, there are some things that are not acceptable practices in any call center. So without further ado, presenting the 9 things not to do in your business call center-
1. A customer’s call goes unattended
You may have umpteen reasons to back your case. But to a customer, it’s a huge turn-off. Remember, when they call and wait in a queue to be heard it’s never trivial.
What do you lose? Your customer’s trust and loyalty. You’ll never again hear from them, prompting a possible churn.
How to solve it? Once you know that the call is not being attended by an agent because he is busy, identify the ones who are idle in that instance, or route the call to your personal mobile number or voicemail. But what’s more important is promptly returning these calls once the agents get free. These measures will help divide the calls more judiciously and avoid instances of agent burnout too.
2. You start rushing them with your questions
Let them talk. Internalize the pulse of your customer and then ask the right questions.
What do you lose? Customer’s satisfaction. They’ll feel unhappy because of not being heard fully.
How to solve it? Start your conversation with a warm greeting and wait for the
customer to just talk it out.
3. You set false expectations
Never promise your customer anything that’s a maybe. Don’t get their expectations high just to end that call on a happy note. That’s suicide. If you’re unsure of a timeline, clearly explain that you’ll need some time to check with your team. Just assure them that you’ll get back as quickly as possible.
What do you lose? Your brand’s credibility and customer’s trust. They’ll never trust your promise on feature releases or deadlines again.
How to solve it? When you’re unsure of a timeline, clearly explain that you’ll need some time to check with your team. Just assure them that you’ll get back as quickly as possible.
4. You keep them on hold for a long time
Understand that they called you for a quick response. If it was something that could wait, the customer might’ve as well sent an email.
What do you lose? Customer’s patience. It might get them to question your brand’s expertise.
How to solve it? Keep all your references handy—be it a feature lookup list,
troubleshooting pointers, quick pricing comparison or whatever that’d help you answer quickly. Another small tip is to listen to recordings of your colleagues’ phone calls and make use of that to answer similar questions when posed to you.
5. You give them inaccurate information
Never give wrong information or solutions that you aren’t sure of yourself. It’s sure to backfire sometime. To accept that you don’t have the answers right away is okay. It’s always not possible to be a know-all. It’ll do you less damage than making something up just to seem knowledgeable, or get off the call quickly or whatever be the reason.
What do you lose? Customer’s calm and your brand’s seriousness. You’ll seem too
irresponsible a brand to invest in further.
How to solve it? Have deep knowledge about the product. If possible, shadow a couple of sales demo calls. And most importantly, only suggest workarounds or solutions that you’ve tried and seen it work for yourself.
6. You transfer the call to too many agents
Too many call transfers will frustrate the customer. They’ll slowly start losing the trust that they’ll get the help needed. One or a maximum of two transfers work well. Anything more puts you in a bad light.
What do you lose? Customer’s patience and trust. They’ll look at you as an unorganized business.
How to solve it? Identify the most common use cases for your business. If a majority of your customer calls are around payment, shipping and returns, set an IVR with these options.
7. You lose your calm and poise
Even if the customer is rude or impossible to handle, never lose your temper. It would just worsen things. You’ll make the already unhappy ones just mad. Always remember this—they have nothing personal against you. For all you know, you might’ve caught them on a really bad day. That’s all.
What do you lose? Customer’s calm and your brand’s reputation. You’ll come by as an unprofessional brand. And prepare to expect some negative feedback from them.
How to solve it? Always remember this. They have nothing personal against you. For all you know, you might’ve caught them on a really bad day. That’s all. Keeping this simple truth in mind would help you from losing your calm with customers.
8. You answer with a near-dead voice
It might be a tiring day or the last hour of your shift. But, don’t let that make you sound uninterested. Great conversations start with the most exciting voices. Even if you assist them well, your low energy will make your effort seem half-baked.
What do you lose? Customer’s contentment and your brand’s passion. You’ll look like a brand that has a helpline just for the sake of it.
How to solve it?— Try your best to sound excited. But, in case of a really bad day, have a pre-recorded welcome message uploaded in your phone system. Just turn it on, so that you’ll have some time to prepare yourself for directly talking to the customer.
9. You follow up at odd hours
No one likes to be woken up in the middle of a peaceful night’s sleep to hear someone ask if they could set up a demo. This would be one of the most unpardonable screw-ups. Always be conscious of your prospect’s time zone. Else you’ll just lose a potential customer.
What do you lose? a potential customer, a possible deal and eventually your revenue.
How to solve it? Always be conscious of your prospect’s time zone. You can map
customers to the correct time zone while saving their details in your phone system.
Whenever you’re unsure of their current time, google it up with the prefix of your customer’s number.
Finally, all these lose sum up to a bleak customer base, drop in revenue and dwindling brand value.
How to leverage phone calls and make profits with best practices in your call center
If you observe carefully, in most of these cases the direct stakeholder is the agent who answers the customer calls.
So clearly, lack of not implementing best practices and training for agents handicaps businesses that strive for communication and selling.
But what to do to help the agents turn every call into a good experience?
Especially when it’s not just a single call they handle, but a fleet of such calls from customers — some unhappy, others with an inquisitive list of doubts and a few more with issues that are new and unheard.
Also, agents aren’t always on the receiving end of calls. They have a separate list of calls to make—calls to follow up on prospects, calls to check if customer issues were resolved, demo calls to explain the product, negotiation calls to close deals and much more.
With so many calls to handle and so much at stake, there is a pressing need for something more than just any phone system—one that’s easy to adapt to, simple to use, has enough features to streamline calls, is light on the pocket, and leverages technology to its advantage.
A good system will let agents focus on having quality conversations with customers and keep them happy.
That system is what a call center needs to be!
In case you think your business needs to invest in a good call center software, that’s a good start. But before making the move, understand what an ideal call center software is. And how to spot one that’s relevant to your business.
Here’s our attempt to get you started!
In case you have similar experiences with a call center— good or bad or ugly, do share them with us. Also, if you need help in figuring out the best call center software for your business, call us at +1 (916) 379-7474. If you have the time, then just drop us an email email@example.com.
P.S – Still searching for ‘The Ugly’? If so, worry no more! Your customer is busy searching for an alternative anyways 😛
Illustrations by Nikhil Kanda, Graphic Designer, Freshworks
Freshcaller is a plug-n-play call center software for every type of business and helps augment customer engagement and collaboration within internal teams. Users can purchase local and toll-free numbers, get real-time visibility into call queues and ongoing conversations, route calls to specific agent groups, set up custom business hours for each department, and more.
If you want to find out more about what we do, check out www.freshcaller.com.
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