Disclaimer: This is a compilation of some practical life hacks for improving the call center experience for all participants.
Trying to reach an expert at a call center is a nerve-racking experience. When the line is busy and callers have to wait on hold, they become irate. At the same time, on the other end of the line, things are no better. If agents have to handle calls one by one without breaks, it increases their stress level, deteriorates the service quality, and decreases motivation. In this post, we made a list of ideas for improving call center services for both callers and agents. Even a short but pleasant conversation with a stranger on the phone can significantly improve your day, so give it a try.
First, let’s turn to tips on how to improve callers' experiences. Here are some ideas about what agents in the call center can do, as well as what the management team can do, to make customer satisfaction levels higher and increase conversions.
- Take notes while talking Apart from the actual phone consultations that call center agents have to perform, they also should fill in the call log data and take notes on the personal details of callers, their requests, and expectations. If you do all that stuff after the call, you may lose some important details. Besides, taking notes during the call significantly shortens the average after-call work (ACW) metric, which will lead to better performance results. If you are a newcomer in the call center business, taking notes while on the phone will help you stay focused and gain valuable experience.
- Be polite Pick up the phone within three rings, greet a person, introduce yourself, and ask what you can do for them. Be polite, but do not fawn over. Avoid superfluous information and get straight to the request. Ask how a person wants to be addressed: if it is Mr. or Ms., Doctor, or simply Jane or Bob. Make sure to keep a record of this information in case of a follow-up call. Listen actively and echo some words to show you are following a caller and engaged in conversation. Do not hurry to hang up. Let a caller do that after all the requests are settled.
- Write and learn calling scripts Although scripts will hardly contain answers to all possible questions, they are handy for getting to know the most common issues. Make sure you study the scripts carefully and can find the necessary chapters easily. Nothing is worse than hearing an agent frantically leafing through a manual in an attempt to find an answer to your question. It shows an agent’s incompetence, and a caller is likely to ask for a transfer.
- Put callers on hold Customers dislike being put on hold. However, we are humans, and you cannot know everything. If you explain to your caller that you wish to be sure and you need some time to double-check the information before providing advice, they will accept it. Make sure you ask for permission to put a caller on hold. If it is inconvenient for the customer, you may offer to call back. Besides, the music played to a caller on hold should be selected carefully. Avoid sticky pop tunes as well as serious alternative rock.
- Avoid transferring calls While placing a caller on hold may be justified by a desire to provide professional assistance, transferring calls may be interpreted as a refusal to bother. But if the situation is dead-end, apologize, explain that you want a competent colleague to deal with this case, and ask for permission to transfer a call. The best situation is when the next agent on the phone is aware of the situation and the caller doesn’t have to explain the case all over again.
- Use the mute button If you believe a colleague next to you can provide you with quick advice, this could be a lifesaver. A mute button may be used for short pauses to avoid call transfers and putting callers on hold. However, make sure it works properly and the caller really does not hear you.
- Train your soft skills Phone consultations are pure communication. So, make sure you can deal with stressful situations, you do not react to angry or impolite callers, and you can be assertive sometimes. All those tasks are trainable, so learn and read more. Call center management should offer those training sessions for the staff on a regular basis.
- Improve your speech Make sure your speech sounds natural and calm. Demonstrate with your intonation that you are fully focused and eager to solve the problem. Do not hurry and listen attentively, especially if you have calls from elderly people. They are very sensitive, but they are also the most loyal customers if they are satisfied with the service.
- Keep your finger on the pulse of technological advancements Explore the possibilities of modern technologies. This is mostly the task of the call center management team. However, agents should be interested in automating their tasks as much as possible. Automated call queueing, call recording, and call tracking systems should be implemented in the call center’s corporate system for better performance. Cutting-edge technologies and well-trained staff are crucial for the success of any business.
- Monitor the data Learn from the calls you receive. You'll probably come up with a way to automate some of the requests and free up the agents for more inbound calls. Besides, you may find an ideal recipe for dealing with a particular type of caller. Listen to the call recordings of your colleagues and learn from their experiences.
Now we move on to the tricks agents can use to not get mad during the busy hours.
- Prioritize your tasks Make a to-do list every day and cross out the things you have dealt with. It will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Plan breaks to change the activity and relax. Avoid multitasking, especially if you are new at the company. Concentrate on one task at a time and learn how to get the most out of additional tools and automated software.
- Smile Smile while talking on the phone. It will help you to relax, and the person calling will hear your positive attitude and feel better.
- Take your time Do not hurry trying to shorten the time on call. Leave the metrics to the managers. Your two main tasks are to feel motivated and provide excellent customer service. If you are constantly bothered with the time, neither of them is fulfilled. Make sure you listen to the requirements of the caller, then find a solution, check if a caller is happy with it, fill in all the data in the call log, breathe in and out, and only after that pick up the phone again.
- Listen actively and admit the mistakes Show your interlocutor your full attention. Ask clarifying questions, echo the keywords, and show your engagement. If you have misunderstood something, apologize and continue working. We are humans, and we tend to make mistakes sometimes. A natural personal attitude from an agent is always better than a robot-like striving for perfection.
- Break a pencil every now and then If you feel the stress level skyrocketing, break something or tear a piece of paper. Your anger needs a release, and a pencil is the best option for destruction. You can even buy a couple of those pencils for emergency situations. Nobody will get hurt, and you will immediately feel better.
- Take your breaks and move Do not overwork. Your health is not limitless. Use your breaks not to finish the current tasks but to move around the office, breathe some fresh air, talk to coworkers, and grab a snack or a cup of coffee.
- Learn stress-relieving techniques There are hundreds of them on YouTube. You may choose anything that will work for you, be it a breathing exercise, meditation, listening to the sound of nature, or doing a couple of sit-ups. Allow your brain to relax.
- Share with your colleagues Leave the team-building exercises for your managers. You can just be friendly to your coworkers. Tell them about the craziest callers or requests so you can laugh and relax together. Creative employees can choose something extraordinary like dressing in pajamas or other funny outfits to make the atmosphere in the office cheerful and pleasant.
- Don’t take anything personally It's easier said than done. But you need to learn to stay objective. If a customer is angry, their anger is caused by a company or a low-quality product. You are not the reason for their bad mood. So, try to keep that distance, and do not blame yourself for being a poor employee.
- Analyze your calls Take the most out of every conversation. Think of what was said wrong; what would you change in the strategy next time. Analyze your faults; ask for a training session if you think it would be useful. Learn from your mistakes and gain experience. It is always possible to strive for perfection and climb up the corporate ladder.
The call center’s daily routine is full of unpredictable situations, stress, and fun. We hope that our list of suggestions will make your workdays more enjoyable and motivating.
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