5 Ways to Increase the Quality of Your Customer Service Over the Phone
Customer service is a factor in the success and growth of any business. Phone calls continue to lead as the preferred method of engagement by consumers. However, the biggest complaint by consumers today is the decline in quality customer service. The increased use of social media and online reviews can impact your customers’ perception of your business and your company’s reputation. In turn, these can adversely affect revenue and employee workplace morale. With over 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., customer service is a pivotal characteristic that sets your business apart. Thus, it's important to carefully examine and incorporate ways you can improve the quality of your customer service over the phone.
- Be Available
A very effective way to provide quality service is by being available for your customers. Consumers work, run errands, shop, and need assistance around the clock so adding additional operational hours to meet your customers’ needs can go a long way. Many customers appreciate the ability to speak to a live agent to inquire about a purchase at 11 pm or answer questions outside of traditional business hours. Being available 24/7 provides convenience for your customer as an incentive and added value in doing business with you. An understaffed call center can also affect availability. Long wait and hold times cause frustrated customers to abandon calls and turn to a competitor. If you are understaffed or face busy seasons, keep quality service levels high by expanding to an outsourced customer service team to alleviate the stress and workload of staff without increasing company overhead. Outsourcing call management to a call center or answering service makes 24/7/365 availability a non-issue as your calls will always be answered by a trained professional.
- Be Personable
Customer service is an opportunity to connect with your customers. Practice relating to the customer by maintaining a friendly disposition, introducing yourself clearly, and using the customers' names when addressing them. If necessary, kindly ask them to assist you in pronouncing their name. Studies have shown when someone hears their own name (recited correctly), it evokes positive feelings and helps build rapport with the other person. While speaking with the customer, remain professional and conversational, especially if reading from a script is required. Avoid moving through the call in a robotic or transactional manner. This is especially helpful when a customer is upset. Being professional and conversational helps the customer service representative remain objective and may help avoid escalation as the customer feels like the representative is speaking with them and not talking at them. When you outsource your business’s calls to a professional answering service, agents receive specific training on how to handle calls professionally.
- Be Knowledgeable
An important characteristic of quality customer service is receiving accurate information from a competent and knowledgeable agent. The main reason consumers contact customer service is to answer questions, solve a problem, or complete a transaction. The correct information is vital to the quality of service a customer receives. Agent competency builds customer trust. Ensure agents are properly trained, are updated on changes, and have adequate tools and resources working and readily available to them to meet customer needs. Properly trained agents are more confident and care about their job. They believe their employer is invested in their success and it’s reflected in the positive way agents interact with customers over the phone. Outsourcing your business’s calls to a professional answering service means your answering service agents are trained on the ins and outs of your business, products, services, and how to handle issues according to your protocol so that your callers never know they’re speaking to someone who is not on your staff.
- Actively Listen
Call centers are often industry- or service-specific and get bombarded with repeated customer concerns and frequently asked questions. Avoid falling into a routine and treat every call like it is the first one. Customers are unaware of the number of other customers that have called with the same issues or questions. For the customer, their call is unique. Actively listen to the customer’s questions and concerns. Allow them to finish and listen for understanding. On some occasions, customers are unable to articulate exactly what they need due to jargon or confusion. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what the customer is requesting and ask relevant questions for understanding. It’s important to take notes as the customer is explaining a situation to avoid having them repeat themselves. Professional answering service and call center agents receive ongoing training to perfect their active listening skills to give every caller the best experience possible.
- Go The Extra Mile
Go beyond the bare minimum. Practice a “one-call solution” approach to customer calls. Listening actively and being present during the call can alert you to impending concerns the customer may not know they will have. If there is a related issue that can be resolved during the same call, alert a manager (if necessary) and work on resolving that issue also. Customers lack the insider knowledge that customer service agents have. It’s good practice to be transparent and avoid inconveniencing the customer with an unnecessary call. Use the opportunity to suggest additional products and solutions that will enhance their product or service. The customer may not know everything available to them and lean on you as the expert. Going the extra mile as a follow-up, added service, a secondary solution, or making the customer's day easier can amount to customer loyalty and increased sales. When your business opts to outsource calls to a professional answering service, agents are trained to pay close attention to every part of the call and always go the extra mile for callers.
Despite the growth in technology and omnichannel support, quality customer service over the phone is more important than ever before. Intercept of Florida is your answer to improving the quality of your customer service over the phone. We are the award-winning preferred provider of 24/7 outsourced call center and telephone answering services for businesses for over 50 years. Our top-notch agents are knowledgeable and equipped to deliver friendly and professional customer service customized for your needs.
Contact us to get started on improving your business’s customer service over the phone.