Sometimes customer service can get a little stale. Here are a few tips on how to freshen up your customer service.
1. Clarify customer complaints
Sometimes customers aren’t clear when communicating a problem. They may be unsure of the problem, they may be frustrated about making the call and it is affecting their communication. To resolve the issue as quickly as possible, our own communication needs to be very efficient.
Open-ended questions – who, what, where, when and how – will always deliver information, while closed questions deliver confirmation. Use closed questions to help you control the conversation and allow you to proceed quickly to a resolution. When you need information use the open questions but include the word ‘exactly’. Example:
‘Can you please tell me when exactly did this problem start?’ as opposed to ‘Can you please tell me when this problem started?’
Adding the word ‘exactly’ will prompt your customer to be more exact with their response, which will allow you to resolve the problem more effectively.
2. Whatever you tell yourself – it’s true!
I once heard someone say that the more she told herself how lucky she was, the luckier she became. This simple act of telling yourself something and believing it delivers results. Once we start to believe something, it manifests itself in body language, facial expressions and voice. This means that when you believe your next call is going to result in disappointment, your body language and the emotion in your voice will express disappointment.
Who wants to listen to someone who sounds disappointed on the phone? No one, so your customer doesn’t listen to you and as a result will refuse your invitation to buy.
The effect works in a positive way too. Start telling yourself your calls will improve. Believe it to make sure your body language, facial expressions and voice respond positively by being happier, optimistic and confident. That’s what your customer wants to listen to, so that they can make an informed decision to buy. If you believe in your abilities, you will be more successful.
3. Smash your negative beliefs
It’s quite amazing how we can be really positive about a making an outbound sales call and just as we are about to dial, that little voice which sits on our shoulder says, “Waste of time, they won’t be interested in buying”. Within seconds our motivation will disappear and our brains go into overdrive to deliver reasons not to make the call.
Quite simply our belief system has kicked in and created a story which we choose to recognize as the truth. At this stage we have no evidence to back up our thought as fact, so how can we possibly know if someone we are about to call will buy or not?
Rather than focus on negative beliefs, focus on positive beliefs and train your little voice to say: “This could be the best sale of the day”. After all, one call does have to be the best sale of the day but until the day is over you won’t know which call it is!
4. Be fast – consistently
Consistency is key, but no one wants to be consistently bad or consistently slow. Not having fast, simple access to accurate and up-to-date information is often the agent’s downfall when it comes to these two customer service blips.
It stands to reason that agents need one common knowledge base that works across all channels – from phone and email to social media.
But without a fast powerful search mechanism it could still mean a frustrating wait for the agent and customer. So, easy, fast access to relevant and accurate information will ensure more productive agents and in the long term, create ongoing customer loyalty.
5. Make proactive service contacts
Effective customer life-cycle management isn’t just about responding to customers’ requests – it’s also about anticipating customers’ needs. Which is why proactive contact via phone or SMS at specific points in a customer’s contact history can be beneficial.
Traditionally, one of these points has been following customer registration, or when suppliers have identified that a high percentage of customers are churning to other suppliers.
Why stop there? Quiet periods could be used to contact customers and ask them if they were happy with their last service interaction – and if not, why? Get their ideas about how you could improve your product/service offering. Review their account usage and tell them about relevant special promotional deals. A proactive approach shows you’re prepared to go that extra mile.
6. Automate ‘seat sharing’ planning
With office space a big budgetary item in contact centers, managers are naturally keen to find ways to minimize physical space requirements. ‘Seat sharing’ is one option.
The problem with seat sharing is that it can take agents anything from 5 minutes to 30 minutes to find their seats by themselves. It can take a workforce management planner hour to sort out seat-sharing arrangements – especially if there are complex requirements such as ‘team seating’ and ‘special needs’ seating.
There’s a better way. By applying new automated workforce management techniques, managers can match up specific seats and their attributes with agents and their requirements. Open seats can even be matched up with individuals who don’t yet have a seat.
7. Remember different types of customers
A lot of customers wanting a basic service are increasingly tolerant of an automated process – and indeed are happy with it. However, when customers reject this service and abandon the call – perhaps because they want a more complicated service than they are being offered, one that necessitates them actually speaking to somebody – then you need to take another look at your processes to ensure customers remain on the line long enough to resolve enquiries.
8. Make sure self-service does not mean poor service
Almost every customer-centric environment has some form of self-service. Operators need to be very aware of how user friendly it is and how user friendly it sounds. Very basic, but vital to customer satisfaction levels.
9. Make sure you have enough able agents
Similarly, contact center operators with complicated product offerings need to ensure that the option to speak to an actual person is high up the automated call agenda. If the number of callers requesting this service is correspondingly high, the operator will also have to make sure that there are adequate agents available to take the volume of calls – otherwise the service level expectation will fall, along with the reputation of the company.
10. Give the right call to the right agent
If the call is presented to the right person, they will take it in their stride. There is much talk in the industry around ‘automating the repetitive tasks’, i.e. using technology to provide the services that humans would have done and it is commonly assumed that all processes have to be automated, but that is not the case at all. The amount of ‘automation’ should be determined by the client and can be increased or decreased depending upon the success threshold of the automation process.